Saturday, November 6, 2010 9 comments

The musical value chain

Writing  as I have been on value chains for the last two days, I suddenly stopped to think if hindi film music were a value chain - how would it work?

There is a poet or lyricist who writes the words in which s/he probably tries to convey the emotions that the situation demands. This then is taken forward by the music composer who has to set a tune to the words and then the singer who has to infuse passion into the words and the music before it goes on to the actor who emotes it on screen. However in reality it is obvioulsy not that simple or linear. The music has to do justice to the poetry, the singing to both the music and the lyrics and the actor being the lynch pin who brings it all together to get the magic to work on screen. Just imagine if Gulzar's " Mera Kuchh Saaman" had been set to music by Himesh Reshamiyya and sung by Sunidhi Chauhan and emoted by Katrina Kaif.?

Doesn't gel does it?

Good music requires all of everything to come together in just the right quantities. This is particularly challenging in a Bollywood context where, unlike in western musical albums the person singing does not write the song and compose the music. So how do different people put their little bits together so perfectly to make up a magical whole? I think it is chemistry. Chemistry that exists between people who think alike and feel alike about similar things. So we had Gulzar- R D Burman and Kishore Kumar coming together  to create that kind of a chemistry. O.P. Nayyar and Asha did that often as did Asha and R. D later on.

It also probably explains why singers and composers often get emotionally involved. The chemistry of creating magic I suppose rubs off on them  ( though I have not really come across singers falling in love with lyricists- guess they are too far away in the musical "value chain").

It is interesting to note at this point that  when the final product has to be showcased by the actor on the screen it may not really do justice to the efforts lower down in the chain. While it is easy to blame the actor it is also the situation on screen that may not do justice to the song. Imagine the song " Roz roz akhon tale" written by Gulzar with lovely music by RD, sung with feeling by Amit Kumar and Asha is finally picturized on Sanjay Dutt and Mandakini is a very mundane situation sans emotions. Compare instead with " Tum aa gaye ho noor aa gaya hai" with largely the same combination - Gulzar, RD, Kishore and picturised on Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen? So where has it all gone wrong? A change in the way music is made these days I guess. Much of it probably has to do with the fact that what passes for music these days in Hindi films are different prefabricated pieces that are joined together- they dont evolve out of each other.

I will conclude by quoting  a song from  " Prem Pujari" , " Shokhiyon mein ghola jaya thoda sa shabab/ usme phir milayi jaye thodi si sharaab/ Hoga phir nasha jo tayaaar woh pyar hai...". 

That folks explains the ingredients of good music very effectively - love and intoxication!