Kamal Haasan's aversion to songs


By Abhishek Krishnan

Why songs are considered the vital part of Cinema? Why do film makers make sure that there are enough songs in their movies? Who started the notion of songs? How did they originate?

In the early 1900’s, movie exhibitors, showcased their movies in various parts of India. The movies of those days were silent, single shot movies of some random elements as simple as “the arrival of a train”.

The director of Paalai, Mr. Senthamizhan, spoke to us about his documentary called ‘Pesaamozhi’, in which he had portrayed the history of cinema.

“In those days, there used to be long intervals when the movie reels were changed. The exhibitors conducted entertainment shows like dancing, singing and martial arts during these intervals to keep the people seated in the arenas. Over a period of time when film makers started making films with a proper story, they pulled in the dance and the martial art elements into their movies. That is how songs and fights came into movies”

Almost every film maker has been making sure that they include songs and fights in their scripts ever since. It has now become a very important point in the ‘Making an Indian Cinema’ rule book. So important that film music has a huge market across the world and the success of some movies simply depend on the songs.

Songs do kindle our spirits. They do transform our moods and do make us go crazy. But are they being used pertinently in movies?

The answer is sadly a ‘horizontal’ nod. Music is something that has to connect the soul of the audience with the movie. But the placement of songs in most movies spoils the drive in the script. There have been instances where people walk out of the theaters and take a break whenever a song appears on screen.

Directors often tend to spin scenes just to squeeze out songs from them. Sometimes it is disheartening to watch songs pop up out of the blue when the hero kisses or hugs the heroine or when she accepts his love. In some cases, the lyrics and the music are in complete contrast to the purpose of the song.

Legendary Actor Kamal Haasan had once expressed his aversion towards the wrong usage of songs in films when he was asked about it.

“I've this Guru Dutt-like background. I used to be a dance composer. In four years, I must have choreographed about a hundred songs. As an actor I've done about 500 songs. To me songs make commercial sense, in the same way that whores make sense to someone in the prostitution business. As an actor, songs often seem stupid. I played a psychopath in the Tamil film Sigappu Rojaakkal. Everyone expected me to go on stage and sing a pop number with girls. I told my director that a serial killer doesn't sing. In our films everyone from a dentist to a follower of Vinobha Bhave sings and dances. I'm fed up of bringing music into every aspect of life on screen. We don't need to mix genres. At the moment we're cooking up a strange gypsy dish made up of leftovers and disposable food.”

Keeping Kamal Haasan’s words in mind, it can be noted that the songs that appear in the movies that are helmed by the man himself, do not distract the audience. Be it Virumaandi, Hey Ram or Vishwaroopam. The songs have connection to the scenes in the movie and are mostly picturized as neat montages.

Nowadays songs are considered to be the sugar in the coffee. We’ve witnessed film makers spend a lot of money and time just to shoot a song sequence. However, after all the extra sweat they drip to chisel out a song sequence, it becomes very annoying when they are placed in wrong parts of the film, especially when audiences have their minds clung like ivy with the flow of the film. The songs suddenly seem like cow dung splashed on walls for drying. Of course you can produce fuel from them, but they spoil the beauty of the wall.

It is quite evident that Indian film songs will always have its own grandeur and sumptuousness just like how an Indian wedding would be. The Indian audiences are used to watching this format in films for decades and decades. Hence, a change in the way songs are portrayed cannot be expected. However, it would be exceedingly great if film makers weave their songs neatly into their films or else it’s even better to leave the songs out.



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