‘Jeena Yahaan Marna Yahaan, Iske Siva Jana Kaha’: Every Indian must have heard of this song and this blockbuster movie ‘Mera Naam Joker’. But little did you know that the famous movie flopped when it was released in 1970.
It was supposed to be Raj Kapoor’s magnum opus, but unfortunately it did not strike a chord with the audience. The film also put the family at stake, financially.
But the music of the movie played an important role in attracting the audience back then and the film featured quite a few hummable songs which gelled with the narrative. That was the time when Bollywood knew the importance of music.
There are other movies too which got famous because of their songs: Pakizaah, Sholay, Agneepath, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Khalnayak to name a few.
Till date, before Covid hit the world or say, especially Bollywood, songs were playing a major role in compensating for the poor storyline. Punjabi tadka was also there for dance and jolly refreshment of the audience.
Speaking to a few veteran film critics, this author learnt that there was a time when Bollywood used to earn a good amount through the music industry, but now even the songs are unable to help the directors and producers. Why? According to the veteran, “movie makers’ focus shifted”.
Recently, movies like ’83, Prithvi Raj Chauhan, Dhaakad, Shamshera flopped miserably. Not only did people dislike the story or acting but the music of the movie too failed to impress.
Songs used to be the USP of any movie. It was so impressive that Hollywood, too, later copied some of the Bollywood numbers and used them in their movies: ‘Chori Chori Hum Gori Se Pyaar Karenge’ in The Guru, also Bappi Da’s famous ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ in You Don’t Mess With Zohan! and many more.
That was the unique legacy of Bollywood. In that era, songs and storyline used to move parallely in a movie and carry forward the tempo of the narrative. Even if we see the history of blockbuster Bollywood movies, they have had ever-lasting music albums.
However, the trend is changing and so is the view point, but keeping songs secondary is somehow making things unbalanced. There are multiple reasons behind the downfall of the overall quality in Bollywood movies.
Unlike earlier, songs are not written based on the demand of the situations nor music directors have track of the storyline and hence, they don’t compose music accordingly. Nowadays, most music directors have their ‘song bank’ filled with pre-recorded songs. So, instead of fulfilling the demand of the movie and creating new songs, mostly they ask producers/directors to choose from their bank, which eventually doesn’t fit with the movie.
Also, now there are multiple music directors in a movie with one song or two which certainly doesn’t help the vision of the director. And the director of the movie, who is often called the captain of the ship, also needs to have a good music sense. Everyone remembers Yash Chopra and Sanjay Leela Bhansali not only for their direction but for their great taste and understanding of music.
If one talks about the southern movie industry, they have kept their focus intact and that is the reason movies like RRR, KFG, Pushpa as well their songs got appreciation from all corners of the world.
So, Bollywood certainly has to think again and make music their priority to keep the momentum going or else the future of the film industry looks bleak!
–By Chetan Sharma