Mumbai: As the film ends and the closing credits begin to roll, the ever-increasing list of names under music-related categories gives away the changing structure of composing tunes for Hindi-language movies.
A host of job descriptions—from sound designer to music director, in addition to composer, lyricist and playback singer—signals a leaning towards new models away from the traditional trend of hiring just one composer and one lyricist to produce all the music for a film. Recent releases such as 8x10 Tasveer and Reliance BIG Pictures’ Sikandar both reeled in multiple composers and lyricists to work on the musical score for the films, in a move to capture a range of sounds and styles.
“I didn’t plan to have different sets,” says Piyush Jha, director of Sikandar, who hired three sets of composers to work on the music for the film. “But after I edited the film, I thought about the songs and felt that it would be great if one composer could do one bit and a second could do another. They would all bring different sounds and they all have different styles.”
Different tunes: Shankar (centre) with Ehsaan (left) and Loy. Despite the growing trend, the trio doesn’t like to share credits with others. Raj K Raj / HT City
As well as the composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Jha recruited Justin-Uday to score for the film, as well as Sandesh Shandilya, while also retaining three different lyricists for the songs.
Adds Jha: “The advent of small films and experimental cinema too, has led to a lot of experimentation when it comes to music. It is not constrained to the typical Bollywood form any longer.”
The corporatization of Bollywood, and introduction of formal structures and processes, has led to a more sophisticated approach to scoring music. Instead of using music as a device by which to tell the story and as a bridge between scenes, film-makers increasingly see music and songs as a crucial element in shaping the overall direction of the film and accentuating critical points in the story.
According to Biren Ghose, executive director of Eros International Plc., the industry started to change with the arrival of sound designers, who helped to keep the music in sync with the overall movie direction, as well as people who were tasked with creating the background score.
“Today, specializations are emerging such as music director who might decide to outsource the compositions,” says Ghose. “In addition, we can also use material in films that has been used before, such as the title track from our newest release Aa Dekhen Zara, starring Neil Nitin Mukesh, which increases the number of names on the credits.”
“There are various models for scoring,” explains Kulmeet Makkar, chief executive of Reliance BIG Music and Home Video. “The regular model is when there is one composer and he also sings, or hires others to sing. And now there is the model where multiple composers are brought on board, but that is used selectively depending on the film.”
He adds: “Today, the objective is to get the song right. The focus is not necessarily the whole album, because you need one strong song to drive the entire marketing and sell the film.”
In addition, having a diverse and edgy soundtrack for a film by harnessing various talents and sounds, helps to get it noticed, says Alpana Mishra, chief operating officer of UTV Motion Pictures Plc.
“Music is a key point of difference in movies so we use several composers now where previously we would have used just one,” says Mishra. “Music is a key tool for marketing and releases are hugely music-led. There are a couple of composers out there who are known to create a huge amount of excitement through their music and while sometimes they may not be best for a film creatively, they give you a little edge which helps on the opening weekend.”
Mishra adds that although it is less efficient and economical to use multiple composers, it is rare to find a single body of diverse music which completely suits the needs of a film through one composer.
Multiple composing credits for films also comes about when the title track produced is not satisfactory, prompting the producers to seek other options, explains Makkar, comparing the model to that of the star system, where in the absence of one strong and well-known composer whose brand value can help to promote the film, studios are likely to rely on a number of less well-known composers. “Music buying habits are changing too,” says Makkar. “Instead of buying the physical album, people are downloading just one or two tracks, which means you have to get it right.”
But sharing credits risks damage to brand value and denigrates the contribution of the artistes, argue composers such as Ehsaan Noorani of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, the trio who recently unwittingly found themselves sharing the composing credits for Chandni Chowk to China with Punjabi rapper Bohemia.
“We would rather stick to being the sole composer for a film, because it is good to have a single thread running through the movie,” says Ehsaan, explaining that the trio agreed to compose a song for Jha’s Sikandar on condition that a music video was shot with it too, to give them greater visibility. “We don’t like to share composing credits. If there are three or four others on the soundtrack, and one track is bad, then the reviews sink and it affects us all.”