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Film Music

Film Music

Indian Film Music:

One of the most popular Indian music forms is the Filmi music. Hindi film industry, popularly known as Bollywood, along with Indian regional film industries, produces thousands of films a year, most of which are musicals and feature elaborate song and dance numbers. It is interesting to note that some of the movies become successful because of their music only. Movie soundtracks are released as tapes and CDs much before the movie is released. Earlier, radio was the main media of Film music but with the coming of satellite TV and FM radio the scenario has completely changed.

It is because of the huge popularity of the Indian film music that a large number of talented music directors, singers, composers and lyricists are attracted to the Indian Film industry. India is a land of great musical heritage. It is mainly because of the same reason that almost all our means of entertainment are inspired by music. The Indian film music has given a number of great music talents over the years. Some of the notable are Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, K L Sehgal, Mohd Rafi, Kishore Kumar, R D Burman, S D Burman, A R Rehman, Khaiyyam and many others.

Indian Film Music is said to have begun with the release of Alam Ara in 1931. In the early years of Indian cinema, the music was mainly classical and folk in inspiration, with some Western elements. The most fascinating part of Indian film music is its evolution with time. The Indian film music experts have always experimented with new things to cater to the changing tastes of music lovers. Another trend in Indian film music is that of integration of some popular regional languages such as Punjabi, Oudhi etc. Though in the process of evolution, music experts have flirted with western influences too yet the Indian flavor has always remained there.

The year 1931 not only marked the beginning of the "talkie" age, but it also naturally became the starting point for movie composers and singers. The playing field became instantly dominated by a handful of strong production studios most of which had their legacy firmly rooted in the silent era. Ardeshir Irani and R.S. Choudhury (Mehboob Khan's mentors) carried forward the Imperial Studios banner. Himansu Rai, the consummate English nobleman leveraged his experience with British and German moviemakers, Shantaram and Master Vinayak joined forces to further foster Prabhat Films, B.N. Sarkar moved his silent movie gear to South Calcutta where New Theatres was founded, Homi Wadia instituted Wadia Movietone, Sohrab Modi joined his mentors at Minerva, and Chandulal Shah deftly moved his Ranjit Studios banner into the age of sound.

Musical tastes round the country were still dominated by the Indian motif - one-dimensional melody that drew almost entirely on classical and folk structures. The performance of music was simple at best. Most of the singers were either from "singing families" with delivery styles set in the tradition of their "gharaana" OR were theatre performers trying hard to get by with simple straight-line approximations of the stated melody. Playback technology was available, but there was no implementation handy for scalable reuse. Out in Bengal, New Theatres tried their first playback experiment as early as 1933. It did not go unnoticed.

This was the state of the early to mid '30s. The alliances were interesting. The East and West were ruled by their respective Holy Trinities. Prabhat was led by Master Govindrao Tembe and his two disciples Keshavrao Bhole and Krishnarao Phulambrikar (with a young Vasant Shantaram Desai still in the pen). Bengal's New Theatres had their answer in Raichand Boral, Pankaj Mullick and later, Timirbaran Bhattacharya. Imperial Studios leaned on their Parsee patrons. Himansu Rai, with his British Production Company, was still dependent on European craftspersons for music among other things. Bombay Talkie, created in the mid-'30s would hire Khorshed Homji and Ramchandra Pal as their constant composers, but that was a few years away. Funded to a degree by Ram Daryani, Sagar and National Studios brought in maestros Pransukh Nayak and Ashok Ghosh. Chandulal Shah's Ranjit Studios flexed its musical muscle through classicists like Jhande Khan, Banne Khan and protege Rewashankar Marwari.

Emergence of Hindi movie song
Late 30's

And then it happened. Ram Daryani, a visionary financier, brought a 20 year old tabla player from Calcutta to work with the Sagar Movietone orchestra. It is to the credit of composer Ashok Ghosh that he took young Anil Biswas under his tutelage, and further, gave him enough freedom to create the first real orchestra for a Hindi movie song. In parallel, the Himansu Rai-Devika Rani team launched Bombay Talkie, hired the orchestra-minded Saraswati Devi as their composer, and further strengthened the foundation of a Western outlook, however simplistic it might have been at that time. The groundwork was launched for the Hindi movie song.

The first few songs to hit the nation as a whole may well have been from ACHHUT KANYAA and some contemporary Sagar Movietone productions. The time was 1935-36, and if this is where it started, we might have a candidate here for bringing in the Golden Age.

In the meantime, just out of the blue, New Theatres hit a home run. They augmented their singing talent through Sehgal's voice. A Punjabi singer far away from his native ambience seemed well at home in Tollygunge, South Calcutta.

With all the busy ins and out, Bombay had its weather eye cocked on an already well-established studio out to the North somewhere. Dalsukh Panchholi was an astute businessman. What did this business-oriented Lahori know of music, anyway? Some of life's happiest events hang together by threads of serendipity. Had Panchholi not created GUL-E-BAKAAVLI (1939), Baby Noorjehan may never have become known to the world at large. Had he not hired Master Ghulam Haider to do the very traditional, staid and Punjabi music for it, the songs may never have hit the headlines. And Panchholi might never have hired Master Haider to do KHAZAANCHI in 1941, but for a string of such chance events. And where would the Hindi movie song be today without the pioneering framework provided by KHAZAANCHI? We have fast-forwarded through the latter part of the '30s here, but let us get to 1941 and KHAZAANCHI. Master Haider consciously broke away from the dull and monotonous delivery of the '30s song. It was not without pain or criticism. Every generation has had its maverick. That he was, and knowingly so. KHAZAANCHI has gone down in history as the movie that defined the very structure of the modern Hindi song, much in the style of Von Neumann who, only 5 years later, defined the essence of stored program execution. Neither the structure of the Hindi song, nor the essential sequencial program execution model have changed much or at all since their inception. In that respect, Ghulam Haider hailed the age of modern Hindi music.

To summarize the '30s, the professional scene consisted of salaried employees in a handful of movie studios the vast majority of which were brought forward through profits from the silent age. Noorjehan, Ghulam Haider,and Anil Biswas were the frontline names. Looking at the content, we must examine the constituents - the melody, the orchestration, the singing style and ability, the lyrics, and in some ways also the picturization. The dominant singers of the age were KC Dey, Pankaj Mullick, Shanta Apte, Govindrao Tembe, Ashok Kumar, Devika Rani, Surendra, Wahidan Bai and sister Jyoti, Bibbo, Manju and a few more. In a category all by himself stood the theatrical and Sufiana singer Kundanlal Sehgal. Some of his most famous songs had already been created, and he was just warming up.

More coincidence. The rapid and profitable emergence of the movie during the '30s, while remaining the sole property of a few studios, engaged the entire nation. What had started as the entertainment of the upper crust had trickled down to practically all layers of society - deep enough to threaten the legacy social outing. One such example was the Natak Mandali tradition of Maharashtra. Attendance dropped to all time lows. Mass defections occurred, both in the audience and the performers. Families whose wherewithal was the Natya Sangeet medium felt the most pain. Several went bankrupt. Alcoholism, a very natural companion of the performing arts, only aggravated the suffering. None knew this better than Dinanath Mangeshkar. Five children, a young wife, and nowhere to turn to. Once the darling of the Marathi stage, he now had trouble finding familiar faces in the business. In desperation, he accepted his oldest daughter's insistence upon finding a job for herself. In this quest, 12-year old Lata Mangeshkar was introduced to Vinayakrao Karnataki. But there was something else. She also signed up for a National Level Talent contest that had recently been labelled the KHAZAANCHI competition. The Northwestern frontier shuddered as the typhoon hit home. A Marathi-speaking winner of all things! Master Haider, the man whose runaway success had contributed the name to the contest, would stop to take notice. Seven years from the day, he would fight tooth and nail to permanently change the sound of Hindi music. Some milestone this. The writer must submit here that no matter when the Golden Era is said to begin, its life must include this landmark event of Lata Dinanath Mangeshkar winning the KHAZAANCHI competition. This voice has provided even our best composers with the motivation to produce the very best of melodies.

Film music is mostly used in commercial Indian cinema, which is mainly produced in the centres of Mumbai (Bollywood). Indian films are best-known for their music and composers (music directors). Well-known music directors of the past include Naushad, Kalyanji-Anandji, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, S D Burman, R.D. Burman, Shankar Jaikishan etc. etc.

Most Indian films are musicals. The actors generally do not sing, but lip-synch to songs sung by such accomplished playback singers as K. L. Saigal, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Mukesh, Manna Dey, Yesudas, S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, etc. etc.

The extremely popular Hindi filmi songs combine Indian classical music, with its sophisticated, melismatic vocals & traditional instruments, with catchy tunes and stylings from Western pop music. The novel experimentation (resulting in such mixes as "Indian hip hop") has been received well in India and continues to grow in popularity.

Binaca Geetmala was a very popular radio show presented by Ameen Sayani giving popularity ratings of hindi film songs from Indian cinema on a weekly basis, listened to by millions of Hindi music lovers (akin to Billboard Hot 100 list of songs). It ran in various incarnations from 1952 to 1993. Annual lists of the most popular songs were played at year end. The list was compiled on the basis sales of records in India.[1] It was the most popular radio program before Satellite television took over in India sometime in 1990s. Currently, hindi filmi songs are sold on tape & CD compilations, played as promos and in programs on various cable & satellite television channels and radio stations, with different popularity ratings claiming different songs as being on the top.

Hindi cinema has been greatly enriched by the works of music stalwarts like Naushad, C Ramachandra, Shankar-Jaikishan, SD Burman, OP Nayyar, Madan Mohan, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Kalyanji-Anandji and RD Burman, to name some. Here, we wish to focus on the works of two music directors whose names are not mentioned in the same breath as those of the above-mentioned composers, i.e. Chitragupta & N Dutta. The songs composed by them are as melodious as other composers, the only difference being that they didn't do much work, and not with many big banners. One of the biggest banners of the South, namely AVM Productions, had opted for Chitragupta for many of their Hindi productions, which proves, in a way, that he could deliver.

For details about Playback Singers, kindly link below


For details about music composers, kindly link below


For details about Lyricists, kindly link below


About Raag Based Film Songs, kindly link below



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