World Music Day: We decode the reasons behind the collective popularity of background scores with these rising film music composers

In recent years, with a more nuanced audience, film scores have been consumed independently beyond the songs in films and the film itself
Image for representational purpose
Image for representational purpose

Music and films have always co-existed. The former has become a major narrative tool for artistes, who work tirelessly behind the camera to bring their vision onto the screen. In recent years, with a more nuanced audience, film scores have been consumed independently beyond the songs in films. Be it the Killing Jeeja theme from Animal, or the many scores from Gehraiyaan, the rise of independent consumption of background music and scores cannot be overlooked. On World Music Day, we explore this facet of music and films with many young, popular and talented composers to decode the rise of this trend.

Listening to music, visually

Music composer-duo, singer OAFF and Savera have repeatedly knocked it out of the park with tunes from films like Gehraiyaan and Kho Gaye Hum Kahan. Their work on the film’s background score has also done immensely well on audio streaming portals. Now, fresh off the success of their latest release, Ittefaq, made in collaboration with the versatile Siddhant Chaturvedi, the duo talk about the trend. First, OAFF breaks it down for us. “What happens with a good score is, when you see visuals with music with a powerful impact, you get the same feeling without the visuals,” he says, citing the example of the score composed by John Williams that plays when the characters enter Jurassic Park for the first time.

Further, Savera focuses on how the release of the Gehrayiaan album was consumed beyond the songs they created for the film. “Overall, I think that our audiences are becoming more appreciative of background music and their nuances and all the thoughts that go into it. We noticed this for Gehraiyaan as well. Many reached out to us for the work we did on the background score and many still listen to it,” he states.

Composer Tushar Lall, having gained much appreciation for the intro theme and background score of the Netflix documentary Curry & Cyanide: The Jolly Joseph Case, also shares his opinion on this trend. Highlighting how icons like Hans Zimmer are producing sold - out shows for their live performance of their popular score, Tushar opines, “People are starting to realise how iconic film scores are. When you work on a film as a composer, you are also working on the substorytelling, which happens via the score.” For Tushar, the score is essentially a film in itself, running under the visual elements' context. He adds, . Further, I think people’s tastes have also become more refined along with their increase d understanding of the value that the score holds in the ecosystems of films.”

Tushar Lall
Tushar LallJeetu Kapadia & Kinnari Sanghavi

Inspirations for scores

While composers have often attributed the trend to audiences’ change in taste and its blend with visual elements onscreen. We also ask them what they look at while composing these scores. And they believe that the script and the director’s vision play a major role in formulating the score. Shashwat Sachdev, best known for his work in Uri: The Surgical Strike (for which he bagged the National Film Award for Best Background Music) , highlights the core inspirations that music composers often consider while producing a score. “Film as an art form is a director’s medium. When I am composing and writing scores for a film, the inspiration mostly comes from the director and the written content of the film (script/screenplay). Often, it is also the director’s personality or attitude that inspires me. Sometimes, when I work with fearless directors, I’m inspired to do something out of the box. Sometimes, I also work with someone who knows what he or she is doing. In such a case, everything is well-balanced. With them, I try to find something beautiful within the scope available. However, I firmly believe that the inspiration ultimately comes from either the script and the story or the protagonist and characters written by the writers.

Shashwat Sachdev
Shashwat Sachdev

Prayag Mehta from the music duo, Lost Stories (comprising Rishab Joshi and him), who recently debuted in Bollywood with their single, Jazbaati Hai Dil, for the film, Do Aur Do Pyaar, also shares a similar view on the multifaceted inspirations for music directors, which includes the filmmaker’s vision, each scene’s musical resonance, and characters. “This blend helps create music that enhances and enriches the storytelling. Your job as a composer is not to distort the director’s vision but merely embellish it with the score,” he adds.

Lost Stories (Prayag Mehta and Rishab Joshi)
Lost Stories (Prayag Mehta and Rishab Joshi)

Musician Agnel Roman, who composed music for films like Maazi and Kaaal, shares that he sometimes also draws inspiration from the film’s location and historical context to make the score more authentic

Agnel Roman
Agnel Roman

India and the world

While world cinema approaches background score with great importance, Indian cinema too highlights backg round score. However, the approach is very different as pointed out by these talented composers. Joining the chat around this, Smit (from the composer duo Archit and Smit), shares, “We (Indian films) are not as conventional. Our albums traditionally do not encompass one particular genre. It is a whole experience throughout what a character is feeling. Based on those feelings associated with the scene, songs are crafted. Indian films have more character arcs to their scores.”

 Archit and Smit
Archit and Smit

Further, Tushar highlights the differences in the approach that Indian films have towards background scores. “In Indian filmmaking, the exposition is so loud that the main theme becomes a song. For example, if Interstellar was made in India, the score, S.T.A.Y. from the album of the movie, would become a song. It would have lyrics and someone would be singing them out loud,” he says. The musician feels that Indian film music, although has a diverse approach, does not intend to keep the music subtle.

The sound of a film

Regardless of the approach that Indian films possess towards background music, it is clear that this aspect of films has now become an element that is largely being consumed independently. This is also pushing younger talents in addition to the established ones to experiment more and complement other art forms involved in filmmaking.

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