BGMs in Indian Movies

Music is an excellent tool to convey emotions and the feelings of a character, in a film. Traditionally movies in the western part of the world comprise of soundtracks with tracks corresponding to different sequences in the actual film. The composers know for what story or character they are scoring for. Listening to the soundtrack of ‘Cinema Paradiso’, one would understand what I am referring to.

If we take a look at older days Indian movies, for the most part, the component of ‘Music’ was mainly confined to the songs in the film. Unfortunately sometimes the songs too do not go with the story or the character portrayed on the screen. To set a context or a mood during a particular scene, there were always sound templates available. Like for example a scene where in a character discovers something shocking, there was the usual high pitched violin or a drum beat fest at the background. The concept of a ‘Theme’ was not much adored back then I believe.

But things look different from the 80s onwards in the Indian cinema, where we see the advent of background scores. Even the credits started adding ‘Background Score’ as a contribution apart from the usual ‘Music Director’. Prominent among the composers who bought life to ‘Background Score’ or ‘Background Music'(BGM) is Ilayaraja. The trend was set to compose a theme for a movie which sometimes conveyed the mood of the film. Classic examples are themes from Anjali, Mouna Raagam, Pallavi Anupallavi etc. The composers also started composing ‘bits’ or background score specifically for a character or a scene. One of my favorites is the violin ‘bit’ from ‘Roop ki Rani, Choron ka Raja’ for villain character portrayed by Anupam Kher (though I always have a doubt that this tune is ‘lifted’). Some of the scenes used to have instrumental versions of the chartbuster song from the film, passed as a background score. But luckily even that is changing.

The sad part is that the Indian music industry is still not ready to release albums with the background scores. They release only the song compositions from movies and do not include the BGMs or sometimes even the theme track. This has created an opportunity for people on the internet to rip the BGM from a movie’s disc and share it online. There is an enormous demand for these tracks online. Just wondering why our music industry is still not exploiting this market? Recently, an audio company released a special edition of the album ‘Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya’ (Tamil, Composer: A R Rahman). Even before its release it was widely anticipated that the album would include all the amazing BGM tracks from the movie. But to everyone’s disappointment the new ‘edition’ of the soundtrack album just had the end credits track and a female version of the song ‘Aaromale’ which was not included in the movie. Hope, in the coming days we can see music albums containing the BGM tracks from the movie as well. Some of the BGM soundtracks I would like to listen to:

– Ilayaraja BGM Collection of 80s
– Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya
– Swades
– Dil Chahta Hai
– Paa

~ by Jayanthan Ravi on January 26, 2011.

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