12 May, 2021

Streaming Sound

Thematic score—and silence—were his gift to our films

Streaming Sound
Historically, Indian performing arts, whether the folk forms or the classical forms, have always had music. Even our silent films were accompanied by music. There used to be musicians playing live in theatres; they didn't just play instruments but also sang along. So our silent cinema, too, boasted of a soundtrack.

When sound finally came to celluloid, songs became integral to Indian cinema, more so because they were central to the Parsi-Urdu theatre from which our cinema emerged. When you were telling a story, you got the story to move forward by linking it with songs. You used songs as an interlude between dramatic sequences so that you could pause and take a breath. Songs also became a comment on the interiority of characters, helping to interpret their inner states. A boy and girl fall in love and express that feeling in the form of a song. Music also became vital to highlight dramatic action. A scene was underlined by music, a bed of music was spread under the sequence. These became the norms for the use of music in our...
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