If you have not seen the Marathi film “Harishchandrachi Factory” (Director - Paresh Mokashi) yet, please buy a DVD and watch it. Besides the immaculate production design and costumes, the background score (Music Director – Anand Modak and Music Arranger – Narendra Bhide) in “Harishchandrachi Factory” plays a vital role in recreating the aura and feel of 1910s, the period in which the story begins.
I have uploaded all the background score pieces from Harishchandrachi Factory here. Officially, there was no soundtrack release for the film, and I am sure there never will be one.
01. Title Music
02. Phalke runs
03. Phalke in Projector Room
04. Phalke is Obsessed with Cinema
05. Phalke in London – String Quartet
06. Phalke moves to Dadar
08. Film starts to roll
09. Outdoor Shoot
10. Raja Harishchandra Releases
11. End Credits
Composer – Anand Modak
Arranger – Narendra Bhide
Flute – Sandeep Kulkarni
String Quatret – Suresh Lalvani, Jitendra Thakur, Dastaan, Uka Honda
Sitar – Umashankar Shukla
Keyboard – Darshana Nandurkar
Rhythm – Dr.Rajendra Doorkar, Kedar More, Arun
Organ – Rajeev Paranjape
Trumpet – Joseph
Shehnai – Yogesh More
Clarinet – Suresh Yadav
The earliest of Indian films that came after sound came into movies had background score that sounds like what we hear in Harishchandrachi Factory. For composers of those films, harmony is when all instruments of the orchestra play the same melody together. The harmony in music cues of Harishchandrachi Factory is of that kind. The instruments (Shehnai, Gabgubi, Sitar, Organ etc.,) that are authentic to the place and period in the film are used, and they are also mixed together without any digital tweaking. Background music is mostly used for silent, Chaplinesque montages, and such montages are there in plenty throughout the film. Music per se is truly melodious and works on its own after watching the film.
Phalke, in the film, accidentally meets a Harmonium player on the road and asks him to play Harmonium on location, when he shoots the film. Phalke asks one of his actors to listen to the music and feel the emotion while performing. Though the first Indian film “Raja Harishchandra” did not have any background score for the audience to listen to, it had a background score, when the film was shot, for the actors to listen to and get the emotions right. It is Phalke’s yet another way of making the actors - who are all from stage drama troupes and are so used to a musical accompaniment while performing on stage, feel comfortable in this new setup where they perform to no live audience.
Throughout the film, we could hear the Harmonium player playing melodies that are perfectly in sync with the mood of the scene that Phalke is shooting. It is also quite hilarious to hear the Harmonium player playing music even for Phalke’s emotions, when Phalke gets angry during the film-shoot and struggles to make the actors perform. I do not know if Phalke, when he made his first film knew about using background score, but, intuitively he had felt that a musical accompaniment is a must for Cinema, in any which way possible.
Typical of such films, in which a genuine effort is put in writing the background music, the title credits of “Harishchandrachi Factory” begins to roll with the main musical theme of the film, and the end credits scroll with a delicious suite compiled with all main themes from the film in the chronological order. It is the theme that is first heard when Phalke moves to a bungalow in Dadar, after he returns from London. It is in this bungalow, the pre-production, casting and the shooting of the India’s first ever feature film happen. The End credits music is.
I doubted the originality of the String quartet that plays throughout the journey of Phalke in London, but my doubts were cleared when we I noticed that the main motif of the quartet is the first piece of melody that is heard on Strings in the track “Phalke obsessed with films”. Anand Modak just hints at the theme when Phalke gets obsessed with films and tries to understand film making with limited means available in India, but, when Phalke leaves to London, the same melody is elaborated on a string quartet to imply the wider avenues available for Phalke now. With very few extras walking on the streets, tight close-ups and low angle shots in the London episode, it is the western classical string quartet piece that makes us believe that Phalke is really in London.
“Harishchandrachi Factory” was India’s official selection for Oscars in 2009. Given the film’s popularity, I am sure that the film is going to fetch few National Award trophies, and there is a very good chance for Anand Modak to be the winner of first ever “Best Background Score” national award, beating Ilaiyaraaja’s “Paa” and “Pazhassi Raaja”. National Film Awards committee may also give us a jolt by giving it to Salim-Suleiman for one of the Hindi films that they scored in 2009.
Please let me know the films that you saw from other regional languages in 2009 that has an impressive background score.
P.S. Iruvar is also a story set amidst a bygone era of films and film making, but Rahman had a totally different approach in its background score. Rahman did not use any of the background scoring techniques of the films that were made in the era that is under focus in Iruvar. The visual language and the emotional tone of Iruvar and Harishchandrachi Factory are poles apart. I wonder whether a background score like the one in “Harishchandrachi Factory” would work in Iruvar.