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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Answer for Background Score - 14

This piece is from 'Black'. It is the Michelle's theme. The movie starts with this piece of music. A great soundtrack by Monty and good that Yash Raj music released soundtrack CD of Black. Though I don't know whether I liked Saawariya or not, I immensely like Monty's background score. Movie being a flop, I don't think they would release the background score of Saawariya. So, waiting for the official VCD release, so that I can rip it from the video.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Answer for Background Score - 13

This piece is from Kuruthipunal. It is the title score of the movie composed by Late Mahesh. Kamal Haasan has used Mahesh quite well in some of his movies (Kuruthipunal, Aalavandhan, Nammavar). Mahesh's background score is so nuanced and apt for the look and feel of Kuruthipunal. It is sad that Mahesh didn't get his due till the end.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Background Score - 13

Guess the Movie.

Here is the Answer.

Answer for Background Score - 12

Yes. This piece is from 'Poovellam Kaetuppar'. It is the love theme of Surya and Jyothika. It is used throughout the movie. A beautiful romantic piece and all its variations are well orchestrated. Good to know that many remember this BGM from a not so good movie.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bombay Theme - Unplugged

I am no fool to ask everyone to guess the movie by posting this piece. We all know it is THE ‘Bombay Theme’. Here I post, the unplugged version of ‘Bombay Theme’ performed by North American musicians, Naveen (flute) and Kalyanasundaram (Violin) in 2000 at Neywork Concert. At least once in a month I watch this performance of Bombay theme. It is so exhilarating to watch the movement of multiple bows in unison in same direction on violin strings, playing out such a haunting melody. Also, Naveen gives an exquisite performance by so brilliantly improvising on every phrase of the melody. Take few minutes break from whatever you are doing right now for this PURE BLISS to rejuvenate your soul.

(Intro by Srinivasamoorthy, The Orchestra Conductor)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

(Heart)Breaking News

Illayaraja's background score pieces from Rakkamma BGM page has been removed. I expected that this would happen sooner or later. I think Agi Music Agilan has sent a mail to the Rakkamma team to remove the BGM's. Agi Music now partly own the copyrights of all Raaja's works. But what is the use? Owning copyrights and just keeping it for themselves serves no purpose.

Anyway, if that message is for everyone who puts Raaja's works for streaming or download for free, then anytime soon, the message from Agilan may knock my inbox too. I Don't know how I am going to maintain this blog without posting Raaja's scores.

Jodha Akbhar Soundtrack

In the discussion forum of the official website of 'Jodhaa Akbar', Ashutosh Gowariker himself has put a message that the audio CD of Jodha Akbar would include instrumentals. And that is one of the reasons why Audio release has been postponed (Previously announced audio release date is today).

A.R.Rahman has always given his best in background score when it comes to Asutosh's movies. Both Lagaan and Swades has good enough music pieces which could have been released as a seperate soundtrack CD. 'Jodhaa Akbar' being a historical movie, there would be ample scope for Rahman to prove it again in background score. Let us wait and see if the audio CD contains all the background score pieces.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Rahman's 4 tracks

It seems Rahman has composed only 4 pieces (Philip, Mary's Beheading, Battle and Divinity theme) among the 20 tracks of Elizabeth - The Golden Age soundtrack. Philip is credited to both Rahman and Craig Armstrong. Among the four, I was sure that Battle and Divinity theme are out and out Rahman's works and thought Rahman did contribute a little bit in all the other tracks but it seems he didn't.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Answer for Background Score - 11

This piece is from ‘Dharmathin Thalaivan’. It is used in a fight sequence and also when Rajini secretly enters a big bungalow. But I first heard this piece as a lead music of Sun Movies Channel. It has been my favourite piece of music since then. Usually, it is good to see people guessing the movie correctly. But this time it was interesting to see many guessing it wrongly (as Apoorva Sahotharargal, Michael Madhana Kaamaraajan and Nadigan), which lead to more exploration of similar beautiful music pieces by Illayaraja. I think the dishyum sound in between the clip caught everyone’s attention.

I don’t remember the BGM from fight sequences in AS or MMKR but Nadigan BGM is still fresh in my mind. I like the music from the scene when Manorama reveals her love for Master in Nadigan, there is a bass guitar piece looping in the background which sounds like the piece from Dharmathin Thalaivan and there is a beautiful romantic piece played on a string section whenever Manorama is shown attracted to older Sathyaraj.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Background Score - 11

Guess the Movie.

And Listen this

Here is the Answer.

Answer for Background Score - 10

This piece is from Chinna Kounder. It appears for the first time for Sukanya's introduction scene and later for the Top scene. A very funny and playful tune. A special favourite of mine.

Elizabeth - The Golden age Sountrack

In his special note on the CD inlay, Shekar Kapur has written, ‘Music of the film must not only complement the film but also have its own individuality and its own story to tell’. From his quote, it is quite evident that he is one of the prime reasons for such a loud score. It is also a well known fact that Shekar made Rahman to compose the music even before shooting the movie and also used one of the pieces on the sets to plan his shot breaks in synch with the music. All over the world, the movie critics have unanimously trashed the loud background score. But the music lovers have embraced it saying that it is worth listening as stand alone tracks on CD.

There is nothing great or ground breaking about the soundtrack; it is a typical Hollywood soundtrack with all moody orchestral pieces build over recurring themes. Craig Armstrong and A.R.Rahman together have written the score. It is quite difficult to figure out who did what in this soundtrack though Rahman’s sound could be sensed in many of the tracks.

‘Opening’ score is grand and majestic with a flamboyant solo violin piece running in the lead which sounded like Rahman’s violin piece in ‘Raaga Dance’ from Vanessa Mae’s Choreography. ‘Philip’ sets a terrifying ambience at the start with its low pitched strings and slow built up of percussions. As it continues the mood gets loud and deepened with thundering beats and full throttled orchestra. One of the main themes of the movie gets introduced in the track ‘Now you grow dull’. The theme fits quite well here and the dullness is maintained throughout by a leisurely orchestration. The four note theme in ‘Horse riding’ played on an acoustic Spanish guitar sounds like the slower version of a familiar Rahman’s score though I couldn’t recollect the piece exactly.

‘Immensities’ is all-strings piece with the main love theme being played at a much slower tempo. Though it is too slow, once you get into the flow of the melody, you will feel intoxicated by it. This theme again appears as a separate track ‘Love theme’. ‘Bess and Raleigh Dance’ is anything but a dance piece. Even this track sounds Rahmanish to me, especially the way the strings progress and the looping Harp brings a lot of Rahman flavour to the track. But then it seems Craig also did add his bit in orchestrating it to suit the mood of the scene. ‘Mary’s beheading’ has all typical distant soprano chants and deep Duduk pieces and mellow strings that one would expect for a sober mood. ‘End Puddle/Possible Suitors’ is a beautiful piece creating a very playful and pleasant ambience with its soothing orchestratral variations.

‘War/Realization’ theme could well be the piece where the true amalgamation of Rahman and Craig happened. The orchestration is along the lines of any historic war sequences in a Hollywood movie, but Rahman comes into picture when we hear the ethnic percussions, little sounds that loop around and the percussions that resembles that of Rahman’s score for ‘Warriors of Heaven and Earth’. ‘Destiny theme’ introduces a new sober theme. It is a very short and emotive theme. The theme from ‘Now you grow dull’ again appears in ‘Smile lines’ on woodwinds and the sound is more relaxing and pleasant here.

‘Horseback Address’ as it beings has a very mellow theme played on strings and suddenly shifts to the ‘Horse riding’ theme played by a full throttled orchestra. ‘Battle’ sounds like a complete Rahman composition in all aspects, the strings, the Chinese influence, the mild synth, the Duduk and the choir sound Rahmanish. A lot of things happen in this piece but it never gets boring or go out of place, the colorful arrangement and the twists and turns holds our attention.

‘Divinity theme’ is the most easily recognizable Rahman composition. It is a very sober piece which begins with Mariyam Toller singing the main melody. It sounded like a variation of ‘pibarae raamarasam’ or ‘vidukathaiyo vazhkai’ from Muthu, and especially when Sarangi starts to play the main melody, the similarity is even more evident. ‘Storm’ is a full throttled orchestral piece which does bring the storming effect quite well. The ‘Closing’ starts with a subtle performance of destiny theme and makes a grand exit with the entire orchestra playing the theme.

‘Walsingham Deathbed’, ‘Bess to See Throckmorton’ and ‘Dr Dee Part 1’ are incidental pieces which I think strictly follow the trajectory of emotions in the visuals.

Overall, it is a good entry for Rahman into Hollywood.

Listening Movies

Friday, December 7, 2007

Clever Sabesh-Murali

Watch this Video (I couldn't emded the video here) and listen to the background score piece from 'Thavamai Thavamirunthu'. When I was watching the movie for the first time, I was surprised by the beauty of the piece. It sounded little different for the earthy visuals and yet I liked it and I was surprised that such a piece came from Sabesh-Murali. Recently, i found that this is the celtic theme of the movie 'Last of the Mohicans'. Even Sabesh-Murali's recent movie 'Ammuvaaghiya Naan' had a CD rip-off of an entire Yanni song as the background score for the scene in which Parthiban searches for Ammu.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Rahman's Magic

Check this out.


Answer for Background Score - 9

This piece is from Kaaka Kaaka. This is a pleasant sax theme that appears whenever Jyothika and Surya meet before they fall in love with each other. Harris Jeyaraj's saxophone pieces are always special. On the whole, the background score of Kaaka Kaaka is good though I don't like the loud villain theme.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Answer for Background Score - 8

This piece is from Rang De Basanti. Rang De Basanti background score is one of the best of A.R.Rahman in the recent past. This piece is the main theme of the movie. It is a very simple and haunting Piano melody. It is used throughout the movie at many places, especially in the scenes where they show Sue's Grand Father in the past. The solo violin version comes when Aamir cries in Sue's room, after the rally for Madhavan. The orchestral version comes when Ram Prasad Bismil gets arrested by the police.

Background Score - 8

Guess the Movie.

Here is the Answer

Monday, November 26, 2007

Anbendra Mazhayilae

'Anbendra Mazahiyilae' from Minsara Kanavu will always be there in my top 10 favourites of Rahman. I still wonder how the National Award committee selected Chitra as best female playback singer for 'Ooh la la la' over Anuradha Sriram, who has given a soulful and exquisite rendition for this song. Here, you can listen the instrumental version of the song used for background score. Now that we know the movie, how about guessing the scenes for which this piece is used.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

An Amazing video on Hollywood Scores

This is one of the most unforgettble videos I have ever seen on Youtube. I watch it atleast once in a month. John williams compiled the best background scores in the history of Cinema into a single concert piece and performed it live in academy awards. The genius of John Williams is evident in the way he has connected all those brilliant pieces togather. I get goosepumps especially when John Williams makes his own Jaws theme as counter point to the Bernard Hermann's Psycho theme. Is anything of this sort possible for Indian Cinema? May be a Illayaraja can make a compilation from his own scores.

Answer for Background Score - 7

This piece is Heyram Title Score. Simple melody with a soothing chorus and orchestration. Maestro at his best. Period. Atleast for this movie, they could have released the original score. Not to forget the brilliant start with a westernised rendition of 'Raghupathi raghava' by Kamal Haasan. The real meaning of fusion. The entire piece along with Kamal's rendition is here

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Name an Indian composer who got an Oscar nomination in Best Background Score Catergory.

Pandit Ravi Shankar for Gandhi

Answer for Background Score - 6

This piece is from 'Kudaikkul Mazhai' composed by Karthik Raja. This piece is used for a very imaginative scene in the movie where Parthiban madly dances with a saree. The main melody of this piece is also used at many places in the movie as mobile ringtone. In addition to this piece, there are so many moments in the movie that has brilliant score by Karthik Raja. I am still searching for a DVD of this movie to rip the score.

News on Scores

Yashraj Films have released the background score of ‘Veer-Zaara’. Are (mainstream, commercial, or whoever we think don’t give a damn about background scores) Indian film makers, really taking interest in background scores, or is it just done with a commercial angle as anything with ‘Veer-Zaara’ or Yashraj label sells? Earlier, Yashraj audios released the OST of Black as they were the distributors of the film.

It is good to know that the background score for 'Taare Zameen Par' was recorded live (according to the information in Aamir Khan's blog). I thought Aamir would release the entire background score in CD but there is only one instrumental. The 'Ishaan's theme' from the movie's beautiful soundtrack is one of the best Piano pieces I heard in recent times. It doesn't stick to just the main melody, it starts with a cute main melody and goes through various emotions and comes back to the main theme at the end. A must listen.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Background Score - 6

Guess the Movie. Quite an easy one, if you are one of those few who has seen this movie or the one who have listened to the entire soundtrack CD of this movie.

is the answer.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

7G,Rainbow colony and Michael Nyman connection

Theme from the movie 'The Piano' composed by Michael Nyman

A theme cue from the movie '7G, Rainbow Colony' by Yuvan Shankar Raja

one of many reasons why I can never keep Yuvan up in the list with IR and ARR....

More to come in this 'Plagiarism' section

Friday, November 16, 2007

Answer for Background Score - 5

This piece is from the movie Kaadhal Kottai.

This piece is played when in a harbour, Heera explains to Ajith about how madly she loves him. In the conversation, when Ajith holds her hands to stop her madness, Heera would say, 'Intha touch podhum, oru naal mulusaa enna thoduveengandra nambikkai enakku vandhiruchu' and immediately this piece will start. This flute piece is so apt for that moment. I don't know whether this is a genuine Deva's composition. If not, atleast credit goes to him for choosing to use this piece at that precise moment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Answer for Background Score - 4

This BGM is from Mouna Raagam. We can call it as 'Mohan Theme'. I found that this theme is used in many variations and in many places than the comparatively more popular Karthik theme. I like hearing to theme pieces as a single track which contains all variations of it. This is a sample of Raaja's genius in giving apt varations to a theme piece to make it fit in scenes of different moods.

Here is the next one.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Background Score - 4

Quite an easy one. There are two theme cues in this movie among which one is very popular. But the other one is not so popular inspite of its usage throughout the movie. Guess the movie. What you listen here is a compilation of the same cue in all its variations that appears throughout the movie.

Here is the Answer

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Trivia - 1

We all talk for hours about Illayaraja background score. But was it ever got an official recognition. I mean an award or something.

Did Illayaraja ever get an award for his background score?


According to the info in Wikipedia, Illayaraja got a Best Background Score Filmfare for Heyram(Hindi) in 2000.

Answer for Background Score - 3

This piece is Sathileelaavathi End Credits. It starts when Kamal says, 'Vaangadaa ellam vettukku polam'. The percussion bangs and racing solo violin melody caught my attention long back and i was stunned when I listened to it for the first time. It sounded like Illayaraja is bursting out of the silence he maintained throughout the movie. Under Illayaraja's baton, even the smallest pieces of music can create biggest impact and this one is just a sample for that.

Here is the next one.

Monday, November 5, 2007

E.T Flying Theme

This is one of my all time favorite movie scores. I still remember the exhilarating feel I got by listening to John William’s score to the scene, when the E.T makes the cycle to fly in the air. Also watch the ten minute video where Steven Spielberg and John Williams talk about how the piece was written and recorded. Steven Spielberg asked John Williams to orchestrate the piece in the way he wants and later edited the scene according to the score. A must watch video for all movie buffs and score buffs.

Take part in BGM quiz 1, 2, and 3

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Background Score - 3

Guess the Movie.

Here is the Answer

Answer for Background Score - 2

This piece is from Aayutha Ezuthu. This is played when Bharathiraja gets surprised to see Madhavan standing at his doorsteps, alive. With both of the characters involved being cunning, I think this theme beautifully emphasises on the cunningness of the characters in the scene and also it sounds a sense of fear in Bharathiraja's mind as he comes closer to Madhavan (listen to multi layered strings with notes criss crossing each other and over lapping on one another towards the end of the piece.

Here is the next piece.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Most of the Indian film's background scores are nothing but the instrumental versions of the songs in the movie. Especially, the scenes immediately preceeding the song, will have an instrumental version of it. It isn't just used as a precursor for the song that is about to come. Sometimes these instrumental versions and its variations of the best song of the movie becomes the defining theme of the movie and it is used throughout. In this series, I am going to post such instrumental versions of the songs from the movie. Since it is easy to find the movie from the song, I am going to mention the name of the movie while posting the piece unlike a background score quiz. And the first in this series is a drop from ocean of such Illayaraja's background score pieces.

This instrumental version of 'Oliyilae' song from Azhaghi is a compilation of all the variations that appears throught the movie. Just listen the beautiful strings backing throughout the song.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Background Score - 2

Guess the Movie.

Here is the answer.

Answer for Background Score - 1

This piece is from Mozhi. This is when Prithviraj and Prakash raj scores background score for a scene. Most of them got the answer correct and some of them got even my reason for choosing this BGM correctly. As far as I know, this is the only Tamil movie, where they show how background score is done for a movie. Infact one of the main dialogues of the movie takes background score for analogy. Even in one of the filler dialogue, Swarnamalya will say 'Intha Maathiri scenukku ellam eppadi music vaasippinga'. And above all, though the movie's comoser is Vidhyasagar, every note of this piece beautifully invokes early 90's Illayaraja (Infact one of the answers is Karagattakaaran).

Here is next BGM

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cheeni Kum Background Score

‘Cheeni Kum’ is one of those movies I loved despite its flaws. It was so fresh to see such a matured romance. Amitabh Bachan and Tabu with their sparkling screen presence, chemistry and performance did the magic. The first half of the movie is so beautifully written by Balki and is one of the most enjoyable parts of any movie I have seen this year.

But above all this, we have a major highlight which will make me watch it again and again and again and yes you guessed it, Illayaraja. Of course, his revamped songs are great but I am talking about Illayaraja’s background score. His score gives all necessary light hearted feel to the movie. Almost the entire score is filled with breezy strings, flute flourishes, soft synth beats, mild piano melodies that elevate the mood of each and every moment. The music is not in your face, it is so mild, always in the background and yet it had a magical impact on me. The ‘Veg melody’ included in the audio CD, being the love theme of, comes with beautiful variations all through the movie. But I have not seen any single review anywhere in the media mentioning about his background score for the movie.

You can get the background score pieces from here. Listen to it. Believe me, it is pure BLISS.

Also take part in Background Score Quest

Background Score - 1

Guess the Movie . A very easy one to start with. But there is a reason why I chose this as the first BGM to post.

Here is the Answer

Blog Explorer

Welcome to backgroundscore.com

Why ”I” blog about background score?

What this blog is about

What will I find here?

Analysis on Film Background Score (Thoughts on Score)

This is one of the primary reasons for starting this blog. Post with label “Thoughts on Scores” have a detailed write-up of my understanding of some of my favourite Indian movie background scores. These posts analyse the background score of the films in detail and audio clips of the background music cues of almost the entire film is provided to help the readers. If the film’s background score was officially released, then the post would not have any audio clips.

Background Score Quest

I wanted to post background score pieces (thousands of them) that I have gathered over year, but to make it more interesting, I decide to post them without revealing the movie name. I found this way of posting background music pieces, a great way to interact with the readers of this blog. It also keeps the blog more alive, engaging and fun. All such posts are tagged with ‘Background Score Quest’. Mostly, background score from movies in Tamil and Hindi have been posted so far in this section.

This Piece is From

Post labelled as ”Answer” are those that reveal the name of the movie to which the previously posted background score belongs to. These posts also have a short description of the music cue, its importance in the film, and reasons why I like them or why, in some case, do not like them. These posts always have a link to the original post in which the corresponding background music cue was posted for quizzing.


Our Indian films are rich with songs and music. Often our composers use different instrumental versions of the melody of a song from the movie as a background score cue. The posts having ‘Instrumental’ tag will have such background score pieces with a description of the same.

The background score pieces posted under ‘Background Score Quest’ or ‘Instrumentals’ aren’t those one gets to download all over the internet. The pieces posted are of decent quality. The audio clips posted in these sections will have different versions of a movie’s theme thematically strung together as a single music piece. In this way, these music pieces could give a much more wholesome listening experience.

For example, the version of piano theme of Rang De Basanti posted here cannot be heard anywhere else, and so is Mohan Theme from ‘Mouna Raagam’ available here.


Indian film music composers are quite notorious for their plagiarising skills, a quality of which they extended to their film background scores too. In the posts labelled as ‘Plagiarism’, the original version and the Indian version of the background music are posted with audio clips.

Their Scores

This blog primarily being about India film music scores, in the posts tagged as ‘Their Scores’, the background score of Hollywood and other foreign films are discussed.

Tags for Movie, Composers, Directors, Language

Almost every single post in this blog talks about background score of one or more films and therefore, every post is labelled with the name of the film, name of the film composer, the name of the director of the movie and the language of the movie. This makes digging the blog for posts related any particular film maker or a film composer is made easier.

For example,




Ashutosh Gowariker


Slumdog Millionaire



News or Needle Drops

Posts tagged with ‘News’ or “Needle Drops” have latest news, updates and titbits of information about background scores of upcoming movies, composer interviews etc.

And there’s much more..


Cinema is an art of sound and light. Sound is what we hear. But not all the sounds are meant to be heard. The sound that I am talking about is the sound of background score in a movie. Have you ever listened to this sound while watching movies? Have you ever felt the emotions in a movie by just listening to its background score?

Evolution of Background Score

In the silent movie era, when the movies were screened in cinema halls, the movie projector produced a distracting noise. The cinema halls started to employ local musicians to play piano or organ, to level down the noise created by the projector. When the movies were screened, the musicians played music and tried to keep their music in synch with the mood of the scenes. Though the backing music was employed to rectify just a practical problem, it did more than what was intended out of it then and so when gradually talkies came into being, people just couldn’t ignore the impact of the background music. Thus a time-being solution for avoiding noise became one of the most important aspects that enrich a movie watching experience.

Background Score – What, When and Why?

Just imagine that you are watching a scene showing the sun rise on a sea shore. How would you feel if you can see the waves but can’t hear the sound of it? A wave without the sound of waves sounds odd. Isn’t it? A wave sound is just an ambient sound. A background score for a movie has to sound exactly like that. It has to create an aural ambience around the visuals. It is a music that doesn’t distract the audience’s attention and that is so close to the mood of the scene/shot, so that our eyes and ears sense the same. With just enough ambient sounds (like the sound of waves in this case) in the scene, the impact of the visual is not lost, here silence is the key. At times, silence is the most effective score any composer can write for a particular scene. But a composer has to know when, where and how to use it, to create the right impact. A pleasant element can be brought into this scene just by adding music of a flute playing raag Boopalam in the background. The key for a good background score is choosing between when to add music and when to remain silent. Say, if this sun rising shot is just added to tell the audience that it is the next day, it is absolute information, no emotions involved, so composer can go for silence. But if this sun rising is shown as viewed by any important character of the movie, to imply that the character feels pleasant by watching the sunrise, a flute piece is a must, to aurally inform the audience that this character is indeed enjoying this beautiful sight.

Background score doesn’t always mean good music, it is apt music. Satyajit Ray in his article on ‘Background Music in Films’ says, ‘An easy way to ruin a perfectly good film is by applying unsuitable (background) music’. John Williams (one of the best and most popular composers in Hollywood) in an interview said, “Our prime goal is to achieve an apt score for the visual but if the theme music or a cue from the movie finds a life on its own, even out of the movie, then that is a bonus for the composer”. That is why many directors have used already existing musical pieces that best suits the mood of their film, as the background score. This makes it evident that film makers care for apt score. But if originality and the appropriateness come together, there is nothing better than that. Even a bad music or any sound that fits the scene could become a great background score; remember Bernard Hermann’s violins screeching on a single note in the thrilling bathroom scene from ‘Psycho’. That way of playing violin is unacceptable and doesn’t fit in the grammar of any known form of music in the world and yet that piece is still considered as one of the best background scores provided for a movie.

Importance of Background Score

The main theme of ‘Star Wars’ is as important a character of the movie as a Darth Vader. When Spielberg was unable to show the Shark in one of the scenes of ‘Jaws’, John Williams came to rescue the scene with his thrilling score written with just two notes to make us believe that the shark is coming. In the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, we wouldn’t have felt the power of the ring so effectively without Howard Shore’s cunning Ring theme. We can’t see an E.T flying without John Williams’s Flying theme. What would be the running scene in ‘Chariots of Fire’ without Vangelis’s spirited synth piece? How Amelie’s adventures would feel without Yann Tiersen’s vibrant and colorful Piano theme? Who is James bond without John Barry’s signature tune? Or can we think of ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ without Tan Dun’s westernized Chinese melodies and turbulent Taiko drums? Can we think of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti westerns without Ennio Morricone’s score? Or can we think of Charlie Chaplin’s comedy without that comical music constantly playing in the background? Why Henry Mancini’s Baby elephant walk theme comes to our mind whenever we see a beautiful elephant dancing in its way? Why do we feel like hearing Titanic love theme from a distant place, when we feel romantic? Who or which is Masculine, The rocky or his electrifying theme? Why do the sitar and flute pieces of ‘Pather Panchali’ play in our mind when we watch a kid playing on the streets of a deep interior village? And I can go on and on and on.

Background Score in Indian Films

So we come to an important question that matters most to us. What is the state of background scores in Indian films? Who should give or should have given importance to background scores in Indian films? These are some of the easiest questions to answer. The directors, the composers and the producers of Indian films collectively failed to give background score its due importance.

In India, movies were seen just as extra large sized stage musicals that predominantly had songs. The composers in a stage drama used standard sound bytes in the background to enhance and exaggerate the emotions. The stage actors use to shout their dialogue loud to reach out to a wider audience and so the music was also performed loud to match with the performer’s volume level. Film makers or composers who came from or grew up watching such drama were not so aware of the importance of subtlety in background scores. Also most of the composers were so much rooted to Indian classical form of music and they concentrated only on making tune for songs. Background score is more of creating soundscapes with orchestration done on a simple motif than making complex classical melodies. Even now, there are very few music composers in bollywood who does background score for movies in which they compose the songs. Background scoring ability was never considered as a yardstick for a composer’s skill and talent.

For a producer, movie making has always been a commercial business than art. There are few producers, who invest in movies out of passion for art. In this business, it is unrealistic to expect a producer to understand the importance of background score and spend time and money for it. Shooting schedules were not well planned; movies got delayed due to various reasons and to release the movie on the announced date, all the post production work was done with urgency. For writing and recording the background score, the composer would get very little time before the movie’s release. The quality suffered because of the lack of time. So even if the composer and the director knew the importance of background score, they were helpless. To complete the work, our composers had ready made stock music for all emotions to use as background score. And what really helped them was that most of the movies were in same genre dealing with same subjects, emotions and issues. One can easily count the number of old movies that could be guessed just by listening to its background score.

This lack of importance to background score in Indian films can also be because of two other external factors. They are lack of official recognition for background scores and lack of good film critics in India. Till date there is no category commenced in National Film Awards for best background score. Such an important aspect of movie making is still waiting to get an official recognition from the Indian government. Also, Indian film industry never had great critics. Even now, when there is so much of media exposure, and with hundreds of reviews on movies appearing immediately after its first show, rarely critics mention about background score. Even if they mention, one can expect ‘it was loud,’, ‘it was good’ kind of generic opinions.

Background Score Composers in India

But inspite of all these odds, there were/are few composers in India who did/does miracles with their background scores. The trend of releasing background score pieces along with the songs in movie’s soundtrack CD has started now. Producers spend money and make big symphony orchestras available for the composers to record the background score. Things are changing and there is still hope. Let us wait, watch and listen.

After Illayaraja came into Indian film music, there is quite a lot of awareness about the significance of background score in movies. At least for me it is his background scores that made me to take a deep dip into this interesting art form called scoring background music for films. Those who have read my ramblings about background scores here would now better about how crazy I am about it.

I think still there isn’t enough awareness about this aspect of film making and its significance in films, not just for the common people but sometimes even for the film makers. Rarely Original soundtracks with background score music cues are getting released. Even if it is released, it is heard by only a selected few. Anyway, I can keep cribbing for pages about the poor recognition of background scores in Indian films. Let me stop here.

The purpose of this blog is to share some of the beautiful background score pieces that I heard and enjoyed. Not just from Tamil movies but also from Hindi and English movies and if possible from other language movies too. To make it interesting, I would like to post it like a quiz contest ala conundrumofsanata.blogspot.com where you got to listen to lot of beautiful interludes from Tamil songs and guessed the songs. Similarly here, you will have to guess the movie from the background score pieces. It will be fun. Even if you don’t have much knowledge about the background score pieces, you can land up here to explore and listen to some beautiful music pieces. I know that I may be violating some copyright laws but think of Nayagan’s punch dialogue.