Hindi mainstream has been serving up a few songs lately that managed to grab eyeballs in an old Bollywood way. The films containing the respective songs are set for OTT release, but it has not taken the filmi-touch away. “Param sundari”, filmed on Kriti Sanon in “Mimi” and “Chura ke dil mera 2.0” in “Hungama 2”, which brings Shilpa Shetty back, have been on their way to release within a period of days apart.
The songs, dance numbers both, represent interestingly the two conflicting schools of thought in the music industry. “Param sundari” is an original song written by Amitabh Bhattacharya and scored by AR Rahman for Shreya Ghoshal. “Churake dil mera 2.0” credits Anu Malik as a composer and is a remix of an old hit that the composer created on Rani Malik’s lyrics for the hit 1994 “Main Khiladi Tu Anari”.
These two figures in no way herald a revival of Bollywood music, which in recent years has been weighed down by a new-age film approach that is reluctant to accommodate songs in the narrative. Movie songs as we know them in the traditional sense have generally lagged behind survival.
Interestingly, these two songs seem to do what Salman Khan’s “Seeti maar” (“Radhe”) struggled to do earlier in the year. At the very least, these numbers have made people note Bollywood music again for what it’s worth, and not for star value or hype.
An interesting fact here is that “Mimi” and “Hungama 2” are movies intended for OTT release. In other words, these films will appeal to an audience that increasingly demands realism in entertainment more than greater absurdity than life. In this context, Hindi film songs, especially the lip-syncing variety like these two tracks, have traditionally represented escapism.
If Hindi filmmakers are really looking for a way to revive the film’s songs, perhaps the key lies in understanding the above. Movie songs should be served with a pinch larger than life, no matter how realistic that movie may be.
After all, there is a reason why most movie songs have not had any impact in recent years. Most songs, with the exception of item numbers, have been used as part of a movie’s background score recently, thereby robbing those tracks of the obvious benefit of a star’s direct participation.
When a song is lip-synced by the star (s) on the screen, the effect is immediate. It almost automatically notices millions of fans when they see their favorite star / ‘sing’ song on the screen.
Example: A large part of the comments about the “Mimi” and “Hungama 2” songs on the official YouTube pages are about Kriti Sanon’s dance or Shilpa Shetty’s yoga-fit look. Audience audiences – whether released on OTT or the big screen – are mainly interested in the stars, and the star’s active participation will always draw preliminary attention beyond, which of course the song’s merit will determine its popularity.
GenNow filmmaking, especially when it comes to direct-to-OTT release movies, has very little room for old Bollywood-style, lip-synced tracks. 90 percent of movies today, influenced by Hollywood-style narrative realism, leave no room for lip-synch in songs.
So songs in movies today are mostly mixed with background scores. Such songs do not leave an impact on the audience as the lip-synced songs would.
Which is an irony because watching the most popular movie songs in recent months and you discover that they have all been lip-synced tracks. From “Burj khalifa” in “Laxmii” to “Nadiyon paar” in “Roohi” the latest hit songs testify to this fact.
At a time when the rising indie music culture and music video wave has overshadowed the film song, a touch of lip-synch that is bigger than life may be the way out for that Hindi film song to find new life. It might be worth an experiment to try to mix old-school song images with new-age storytelling. After all, our filmmakers have been former masters of mix and remix.
–VED VINAYAK CHAKRAVORTY