Movies and music go hand-in-hand at least for the Indian filmmakers as well as the audience. We are now so trained to expect a song out of nowhere that a song-less film is a genre in itself! Continuing from a previous story about contemporary music sans the use of Violin, we asked music composer Shamir Tandon about his views on the receding use of Violin in music – songs as well as background score. Is there a loss in the emotional quotient?
Strings being his personal favourite, though Shamir reasons the change. “The kind of cinema that is now happening is very cutting edge unlike its predecessor in the golden era. The very fabric of cinema being made, merits a lot of electronic music both in songs as well as the background score. In the songs also one will see more electronic and in the background also taken from the computers and using various software.”
So the question still is about emotions, do contemporary filmmakers have better ways of emoting? If that was the case, why the concern at all! “There are a handful of films which are made with the golden era theme. The genre that (Sanjay Leela) Bhansali makes use violins in songs and in background scores too.” He further cites yet another reason saying, “The usage of violins and strings section requires very qualified (music) conductors and arrangers who know the score very well. And we don't have too many of them now, unlike the past when there were aplenty. They are diminishing in numbers.” Shamir recollects past few instances of experiencing such music. “There were some wonderful people who did some beautiful string sections in films like HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM, DEVDAS. In fact the latest is a Marathi film called SAIRAT. They did entire sections of violins, strings, violas overseas… and it is speaking for itself. It has become successful and people ask for it. When you hear the beautiful score of SAIRAT, both the songs as well as background, it is so competent because of the use of live strings…” exclaimed the composer with conviction.
Then, is it so that most composers aren't capable of composing good music or don't we have great music arrangers? To which Shamir's reason was a more somber one. “We are extremely capable; we are one of the best film industries in the world. I think our capabilities are phenomenal; it's just the paucity of work. The string section – the violin and the violas or the cello players unfortunately don't get regular work hence you don't get to hear them. Films like SAIRAT is not made regularly, so you can't just play for one film and run your kitchen with it.” He furthers the plight, “So, what has happened is either these string players have retired and are sitting or passed away or many of them transformed themselves into programmers. They are programming music on the laptops now because they know that's the only way to survive. Now, they are shaping up to electronic and leaving their instruments behind. Probably the numbers of people who know the instruments and number of people playing the instruments have reduced. If the trend for this picks up once again, then lot of our talent will come back to the fore. We are one of the best countries. There are phenomenal people who read the score and play like Pyarelalji, the God of strings. He and his father have trained so many people. There are great musicians like Uttam Singh, Sodhi ji, Amar Ali Pur, Yogesh Pradhan, Jeetu. They are all legendary people. There is not enough employment in the country. If there are 150 films made in the country on a merit, there are hardly 3-4 films that are using this kind of music. Hence most of them are either retired or shifted to other profession to make a living. Most are playing live circuits or some others are not in town. Sonu Nigam uses lot of strings, violins and live instruments in his concerts. My film PAGE 3, had extensive use of violin,” retorts Shamir.
Finally Shamir concludes saying, “That we are not blaming anybody. It's just the nature of cinema that is changing because of which the usage of such instruments is diminishing. The World over lots of EDM, hip-hop and Rock is going on. Lot of Rock is gone into Indian Cinema as well now if you notice. When you have too much of rock music, hip-hop then where will there be the usage of strings. Every music is good music. I personally would like to endorse using a lot of strings but to each its own.”
So, like Shamir, we have but no option of listening to the ‘real' music thanks to the change in the taste. But then leaving at that for now will come back with another one.