India - Indian Filmi Music

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Indian Filmi Music

The Filmi is the Indian popular music written for use in the Indian Cinema. There are thousands of films produced every year in many languages throughout India.

More than anything the phenomenon of song and dance gives Indian Cinema a unique identity. Unlike Hollywood, where the music is a separate genre by itself, song and dance has been an integral part of the narrative in Indian Cinema.

It is believed that the long tradition of Indian temple spectacles, sacred dramas danced and sung, still shapes the Indian tastes. Also, due to the linguistic diversity in India, many languages are spoken and there are a number of regional cinemas.

Only films that transcend language barriers have any hope of being all-India hits. But, music, which is not tied to any one language, expresses the feelings of the characters even to the people who can't understand the dialogue.

Over the years, the Indian film song has evolved and developed. Today, film songs have pervaded all aspects of Indian life be it the weddings, the funerals, the state occasions, the religious festivals, the parades, the parties or even the political conventions. Also, film music is the most popular brand of music in India.

The filmmakers having realized the importance of the song and dance in their films try to produce films with music and dance having stunning camerawork, eye-catching locales and sets, colourful costumes and energetic choreography. So, the Indian film song is also responsible for the success or the failure of a film.

The most important factor is that in Indian cinema, the performers just act and dance. They only pretend to sing with lip synchronizing movements to the tune of the music, where the actual songs are sung by the professional playback singers.

At the same time, the playback singers need not be beautiful or photogenic. They just need to be extremely good singers. They sing for many films and have long careers.

With the release of the Imperial Film Company’s Alam Ara directed by Adershir Irani, the Indian film song was born. The talking Indian films also started singing. With Alam Ara's phenomenon success other 'All Talking All Singing All Dancing' productions were hurriedly put into production. In fact, all the early sound films produced in India had a profusion of songs.

It is said that the film named Indrasabha starring Master Nissar and Jahan Ara Kajjan had as many as 71 songs. In the early years of the Indian cinema, filmi was generally Indian classical and folk in inspiration, with some Western elements. But, over the years, the Western elements have increased significantly.

With the advent of the Talkie Film, the Hindi film song gave birth to a whole new song writing and music composing industry. Each of the major film studios had their own Music Directors. The popular music directors are Naushad, Khaiyyam, R.D Burman, Nadeem Shravan, Jatin Lalit, Illayaraja, Raveendram, and A.R. Rehaman.

The well known playback singers included Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Geeta Dutt, Alka Yagnik, Kavitha Krishnamurthy, Mohammad Rafi, K. J. Yesudas, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, S.P. Balasubramanyam, Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu, Abhijeet, M.G. SreeKumar, Sonu Nigam and Himesh Reshammiya.

The popular lyricists included Shailendra, Hasrat Jaipuri, Sahir Ludhianvi, and Raja Mehandi Ali Khan.

Initially, the instrument used for the first film was just a Harmonium and a Tabla. But now, a long range of modern instruments are also used in the recording of the film music.

Some of the instruments used in film music are the Bansuri, the Daf, the Dholak, the Harmonium, the Jal tarang, the Khol, the Manjira, the Rabab, the Santoor, the Sarangi, the Sarod, the Shehnai, the Sitar, the Tabla, the Tanpura and the Violin apart from many western instruments.


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