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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Score in the Fore 2010

2010 was extremely eventful with respect to background score in Indian films. 2010 brought the score to the fore, at least to some extent. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting announced the inclusion of a category for ‘Best Background score’ in its yearly National Film Awards. And most deservingly, composer Ilaiyaraaja became the first ever recipient of the award in this category (Composer Johnson did win National Awards for his background score, but there was no formal category for background scores then). He won it for his Symphonic score in ‘Keralavarma Pazhassiraaja’. Ilaiyaraaja’s score in ‘Nandhalala’, the only Tamil film that released with Ilaiyaraaja’s music, deserves a National Award. Why not simply name the award as ‘Ilaiyaraaja Award for Excellence in Background Score’ and keep him out of competition? He is far way ahead of anybody else in the business.

For the first time, a composer (A.R.Rahman) released audio clips of background score of the film (Jhoota Hi Sahi) before the release of the film, in his facebook page to promote the film. Every single Tamil film soundtrack (Raavanan, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya) of A.R.Rahman got a second release, extended with the inclusion of background score pieces of the film (Think Music is planning to release Endhiran background score too). For the first ever time, an Indian composer’s (A.R.Rahman) Indian film background scores were performed by Royal Philharmonic orchestra in a concert in London. Yet again, A.R.Rahman is strongly in contention for Golden Globes and Oscars for his stupendous ‘127 Hours’ score. As part of the promotional activities, A.R.Rahman gave lots of interviews and spoke in extreme lengths about how and why he chose each and every instrument used in each and every cue in the soundtrack.

In 2010, Indian film makers chose A-list Hollywood composers like Gustavo Santaolalla (Dhobi ghat) and Hans Zimmer (Ra.One) to score music for their films. Many Hindi film soundtracks were released with one or two themes from the background score of the film. ‘Khelein Hum Jee Jaan sey’ had a few more. Euphony and Universal Music Group released a compilation of R.D.Burman’s popular film background score cue in a CD titled ‘Pancham Unexplored’.

Amit Trivedi, who won the R.D.Burman Award for New Music Talent in 2010, is fast emerging to be a truly wholesome composer. From his interviews, it is clear that Amit Trivedi is probably the only popular composer in Hindi film music now, who wants to do the background score of all the films he composes songs for. In Amit Trivedi’s films, the line between songs and the background score are blurring. Udaan, in my opinion, deserves every film award given for Best Background score in 2010.

Salim-Sulaiman, the torch-bearers of background score in Hindi films, composed background scores for 7 films (Paathsaala, Kites, Anjaana Anjaani, Teen Patti, I Hate Luv Storys, Ashayein and Band Baja Baarat) in 2010. I haven’t seen any of the 7 films and would be watching ‘Band Baja Baarat’ soon.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the filmmaker turned composer with ‘Guzaarish’. He composed only the songs and not the background score. He, who finds it tough to communicate the requirements of the songs to a composer, has no problems whatsoever in communicating to Tubby-Parik for the background score. When receiving the GIMA award in ‘Best Background score’ category, for My Name is Khan, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy gracefully thanked Tubby, who assisted them in the background score.

Except for the haunting Piano theme (composer – Rooshin Dalaal) and some spoof music in the first episode, ‘Love, Sex aur Dhoka’ had no background score. Ram Gopal Varma (Rann and Raktha Charithra) continues to be incorrigible, when it comes to abusing the background score. Dhobi Ghat (Gustavo Santaolalla), Happi (Ilaiyaraaja), Nadunisi Naigal(No background score), Aaranya Kaandam (Yuvan Shankar Raja) are the films I am immediately looking forward to, for their scores.

Notable Background Scores (among the limited number of films I saw in 2010)

Udaan – Amit Trivedi
Ishqiya – Hitesh Sonik
Raavanan / Raavanan – A.R.Rahman
Nandhalala – Ilaiyaraaja
Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya – A.R.Rahman
Endhiran (Robo) – A.R.Rahman
Naan Mahaan Alla – Yuvan Shankar Raja
Aayirathil Oruvan – G.V.Prakash

Also, 2010 was an eventful year for www.backgroundscore.com too. I learnt a lot.


Tipu said...


Can you check out the Background music of the film 'Kikujiro' (original of Nandhalala). I had watched that movie before the Tamil Version and was blown away by the BGM. The music was very minimal with specific themes only unlike the Tamil version where I felt the melody cues were more.

Personally i liked the movie and music of the Japanese Version more than the tamil one. And the Tamil Version was more melodramatic/dramatic which was in contrast to the Japanese one. I had felt that the theme music of the lighter moments in Nandhalala (i think its the Agilan music that forms the theme cue which repeats for the entire movie in 'Kikujiro') were similar in style to the Japanese Version. I also felt that Ilayaraja had overdone the melodramatic portions with so much music that made it was more melodramatic than necessary.

Although the content is the same, the emotional signature of both movies are different (the sensibilities of an international audience and the indian audience are different) and since i preferred a more poignant approach i feel that the BGM of Nandhalala is overrated.

Would like your comments on 'Kikujiro' - the movie and its BGM.

P.S. Suresh Kumar said...

Tipu - Haven't seen Kikujiro yet. I will watch it. All I can say is Ilaiyaraaja's music goes well with the sensibilities of Nandhalala.

Ravi Krishna said...

Great write-up. I haven't seen a lot of Hindi films this year, but will check out those mentioned by you to hear what the score's like. I think 2010 was a great year for Hollywood scores as well, my top 3 being How To Train Your Dragon (John Powell), Alice In Wonderland (Danny Elfman) and Inception (Hans Zimmer).

Has the Endhiran score release been confirmed, BTW? That would be amazing. I hope it's a proper, long release and not just a few bonus tracks like Raavan got.

Anonymous said...

dear tipu,the reason that nandhalala BG score seems to be over melodramatic is because the movie nandhalala is taken that way and you will feel that only after watching kikujiro.if you havent watched kikujiro you would not have felt it that way.Kikujiro's music by joe hishashi was brilliant..as you said that melodic cues were less in fact 2 or 3.but in nandhalala its a illayaraja'a film rather than mysskin's because mysskin's nandhalala isnt much of takeshi kitano's kikujiro..but illayaraja's nandhalala is way ahead because hearing nandhalala's score itself will explain the film without any visuals..but i bet you cant do the same with joe hishahi's kikujiro.be cause though hishashi's score is good you cant correlate it with the movie..illayaraj'a way ofcomposing score is operatic thats why he will always be the master.

P.S. Suresh Kumar said...

Ravi Krishna - ThinkMusic said that the 'plans are ON' when I asked about the background score release.

Hollywood Scores

1. How to Train Your Dragon - John Powell
2. 127 Hours - A.R.Rahman
3. The Last Airbender - James Newton Howard (Sadly, due to the film, the score went unnoticed)
4. Inception - Hans Zimmer
5. Liked the Alice Theme and all its variations in Alice in Wonderland

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