Analyzing the multiple composer trend in Bollywood

Analyzing the multiple composer trend in Bollywood

The latest trend that has caught on with Hindi filmmakers is to have multiple composers in their film. Although, this is not a novel concept in Bollywood, it has caught the fancy of our film-makers in a big way. While, earlier there have been films like 8×10 Tasveer and Sikander, which had soundtracks composed by more than one musician, the trend is gaining momentum with each passing day. Piyush Jha, director of Sikander says, "There were quite a few films before Sikander which had multiple composer soundtracks. It lets you experiment with different talents. There is nothing sacrosanct about having a single or multiple composers. Music and songs are enhancers of a movie. So if someone can give you that, then why not? For me, it was more like friends coming together and doing music for me."

Today, the number of films which owe their music to multiple musicians are many. If one considers the releases this year, more than half a dozen films including David, I, Me Aur Main, Himmatwala, Rise Of The Zombie, and the soon to release Shootout At Wadala and Aashiqui 2 have more than one composer contributing to its music. Sanujeet Bhujabal, Marketing Director, Sony Music India says, "Earlier, albums were only available in a CD format. The consumer had to buy a complete album, and so a single composer track with the uniformity of sound design or tune worked. Now, consumers can buy single tracks with the majority of revenue coming from digital platforms."

Need for multiple composers
According to Mikey McCleary, who composed the album for Nautanki Saala, various musicians contributing to a single album is a western concept. "This is the evolution of filmmaking, which has been happening internationally for years. It is catching on in India."

Veteran music director Anu Malik believes that the expertise of a composer in a certain genre becomes a criterion in selecting songs for a film. "Producers want a choice of different songs; they want different flavours all the time. Some feel that a particular person is good in item numbers, or that another is good in love songs only. Since situations that crop up are varied in a film, they opt for different composers," says Malik, who has composed songs for the album of Shootout At Wadala, which also has a song by music director Anand Raj Anand.

Echoing Malik's thoughts, McCleary says, "Directors now are realizing that a lot of innovative music is out there in the indie music scene so they are finding existing songs to use. Also by going to different music composers for new tracks, they are getting a lot of variety to the soundtrack." Filmmaker Bejoy Nambiar, whose film David had a multiple-composer soundtrack, believes that the need to experiment with new talents led him to use various composers in his film. "I use music a lot in my films. The reason I decided to go for different composers is because I wanted to experiment with more talents, new composers and different kinds of sounds," he elaborates. Attributing the rise of this trend to a pool of new musicians, composer Anand Raj Anand said, "Now everybody wants to be in the limelight. Earlier, musicians like keyboard players, etc. were specifically into music programming.

Now, they are also inspired to compose music. Everyone has the right to struggle. And there's nothing wrong in that." Providing a new perspective to the concept of multiple composers, Rise Of The Zombie director Luke Kenny believes that this way he gets to 'cast' songs based on the situation in the film. "If I do a 'various artists' soundtrack, I can sign a composer to compose for situations in the film in the same way I cast an actor for a role. It could be a situation where in the song is performed by the actors or just a background montage," says the newbie filmmaker, who is also a musician.

A case of too many cooks…
Does the creative efforts of more than one craftsman deviate the music from the essence of the film? "Not at all," says Nambiar, but Anand differs. "If there is one composer working on one film, then the end result is good because his efforts are fully concentrated on that one project. Music ka maza toh ek hi composer ke saath aata hain," he explains. While Nambiar sees nothing wrong in having multiple composers, he's however particular that the background score is done by one person. "I have only one composer doing the background score of the film. If multiple people do the background score, then that can mess up the essence of the film," he explains. Malik's grouse, however, with multiple composers has got more to do with the identity or signature music getting diluted. "The biggest disadvantage is that it is very tough for a listener to identify the composer. The name of the composer and programmer is lost. If a composer wants to carve a niche for himself, he'd have to do it by producing a full album in his name," he explains.

What's in store?
"I only see this trend getting more and more rampant," says Nambiar, but Malik doesn't agree with that observation. "If you ask me, I'd be happier doing the entire film as my involvement will be 100 per cent."

While there are purists in the industry, who vouch for films with just one music director at the helm, there are those who favour multiple composers. And with a bank of independent talented singers, song-writers, bands, composers, arrangers and producers waiting to be tapped, only time will tell whether more musicians and filmmakers will jump on the 'multiple-composers' bandwagon!

Screen India

Article written by staff at Bollywood Hungama. Read more

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