Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Roots and the Beginnings



Salem 1998. I was studying in 11th standard. ‘Titanic’ was playing in Saraswathi Theatre, a cinema theatre in our locality. We had heard a lot of good things about this film through Sun TV’s Film reviewing programme ‘Thirai Vimarsanam’. We, school mates decided to go and watch the film on a weekend. I pleaded my parents to allow me go to an “English” film with friends and for Rs.15. (Cost of first class Balcony Ticket) and somehow they agreed. The day of ‘Titanic’ arrived.

The film began and the flash back started with a bang of an orchestral music, accompanying the breath taking visuals that reveal the gigantic beauty of the ship ‘Titanic’. I felt an electric shock wave passing through my body. I had goose flesh. It was that precise moment, I remember so vividly even now, that I became conscious of this amazing art form called ‘Film Background Music Scoring’. For the first time with all consciousness, I was physically and emotionally experiencing the impact of background music. The synth-choir-orchestral symphony was something I had never heard before in my life. This cue is Track 3 – Southampton in Original Soundtrack CD of the film. I even liked the Irish party theme instantly on the very first viewing of the film, which plays as Jack and his friend rushes to get into the ship.

Before Titanic, Jurassic Park was the only English film I had seen in a cinema theatre. That was at a much younger age, so I couldn’t realise the greatness of John Williams’ score for that film.

Few years later, I realized that even before watching ‘Titanic’, Ilaiyaraaja’s innumerable background score pieces from films of 80’s and 90’s - that I saw on satellite television, got firmly etched in my memory, without me ever being aware of it. Yet, Titanic is the one that woke up my consciousness towards ‘Background scores’ in films.

Now, eagerly waiting for ‘Avatar’ and its score.

It would be great to know your ‘Background Score’ awareness moment. Please share.

10 comments:

Muthuvel said...

Its been ten years after Titanic. Hm. And of course the haunting score of 'Titanic', long after I left 'Devi Bala' the score kept haunting me, for days. The score still holds good, as fresh as it was the first time, but somehow the movie grew a lot stale after repeated viewings ,later in television. One other score from Hollywood that had me enthralled in my childhood must be the goose-fleshy 'Jurassic Park' theme, was it my 5th standard or 6th, walking out of Satyam, thoroughly sold-out for its majesty.

And regarding 'titanic' how can I forget the classroom discussions we guys had in our tenth standard... about the *scene* in the film :) "Dei... andha padathula andha scene da.." type excited talks. Seem amusing and silly now.

Suresh Kumar said...

Muthuvel - Nice to read your experience. Yes, we too had "those" talks about Titanic.

For me, when I saw 'Jurassic Park', the stunning visuals and the action were too overpowering to concentrate on anything else.

Ravi Krishna said...

By far my favourite score cue from Titanic has to be "The Sinking" on the OST, it is not only a great action cue but captures the pathos and terror of the ship's crew so well. Jurassic Park is actually the first John Williams soundtrack I ever got, so I will always remain special for me.

But my absolutely favourite and most beloved score is Hans Zimmer's The Lion King. It served the movie so well that I get goosebumps just thinking about it. It's my dearest wish to see a complete CD release of it. Have you listened to it? I'm interested to know your views about this one.

Suresh Kumar said...

Ravikrishna - Yeah. Sinking was good with lots of banging hard metal sounds and orchestra.

I haven't heard 'Lion King' yet.

Ravi Krishna said...

I strongly recommend you to check out Lion King. The film is a true classic and the score, IMO, is nothing short of a masterpiece. It was what converted me into a film score fan in the first place. I won't post spoilers her but I specifically want to mention the scene where Simba (the protagonist)'s father is murdered. Hans Zimmer said that the scene evoked memories of his own father's death, and he poured his heart and soul into the music in such a way that it brings tears to my eyes to this day. His theme then returns in a fantastic action form as Simba engages the killer in a final battle. The score totally deserved the Oscar truly.

Sadly the OST presentation of the score is a disaster. There's a bootleg existing with rather poor sound quality, but it's still good enough to listen what the score is like. If you can't find it, send me a message and I'll send a few files to you (not really piracy as it wasn't officially released in the first place).

Ravi Krishna said...

Here's the scene I mentioned above, BTW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXSMYQAfO8k&feature=related

The music is titled "...To Die For" on the OST, although significantly shortened.

Suresh Kumar said...

Ravikrishna - Thanks for the link of 'Lion King' videos. The background score in that scene is amazing.

I strongly feel, it is such background score that makes the animated stories grounded and all human and that makes the audience instantly connect with the emotions of the characters.

Ilaiyaraaja's brilliant score for 'Inimey Naangathaan' makes the audience overlook the not-so-great animation and connect with the characters. In animation, there is no point of being Subtle.

Ravi Krishna said...

Very true. I have seen that animated projects often bring out the best in many composers. Another score I really loved was that of John Powell's "Bolt" from last year. It had great thematic development. And of course, Michael Giacchino's three Pixar scores have been excellent, especially Up (which has now been nominated for a Grammy and two other awards!).

I recommend you to watch Lion King, I feel almost every cue in the score is wonderful, and the music for the final battle and Finale is nothing short of amazing. It's certainly one of the best scores ever composed for an animated film (and the score I most need to see released in complete CD form).

plum said...

I had gnanasnanam from GOD himself - with Agni Nakshatram, it was GOD who opened my eyes to background music, with that iconic clash scene between Prabhu and Karthik, when the former throws the latter out of his house when Karthik inappropriately barges into the grandma's funeral.

One of the most memorable BGM scores of Raja - from the gritty and stylish trumpets to underscore Prabhu's fierce run-ins with Karthik to the intriguing strings to capture Sumitra's awkward run-ins with Jayachitra; to the mesmerising flute and a cliched veena as Thaarini runs up the hospital steps defying security to give the temple offering to Sumitra; to the definitive trumpets again to underscore the showdowns in the climax.
The best part? I am writing this purely from my memory while the last time I actually caught the movie was more than 10 years ago.

Sureshkumar said...

Plum - Great to read. True, only a Ilaiyaraaja's BGM can do this.