What a layman may not, but a pure music lover, may notice is the continuously humming background music in a Bollywood film. Reliability on it makes a film.

No social function in India is considered complete without music. Since films are said to be mirror image of society, the significance of music was recognized very early in initial years of talkie era. Since largest number of films are produced in Hindi language in Bollywood, so the focus of the article is about some musical aspects of Hindi films.

In order to break the monotony of story line, directors and writers create dance, song situations. And music is composed accordingly. The variety of film music is reflected in form of songs, gazals, bhajans and quawallis etc. Apart from this, there is one more dimension of film music which does not attract attention of too many music lovers. Though same degree of hard work is involved in creation of back ground score, as in any other song. The back ground music underlines positive and negative aspects of film story. Many times we come across such scenes in which characters are not required to speak any dialogues.


The back ground music itself expresses the emotions. In this way film music can be divided into two broad categories i.e. audio part (songs) and back ground music part which is mainly instrumental music. One interesting aspect is the fact that while songs are recorded before commencement of shooting. The back ground score is composed after completion of films.

Standard of back ground music has rapidly deteriorated since 1980. Factors like excessive work load, cut throat competition are responsible for this. Music directors hardly have time to compose such type of music. The trend till 1980 was such that a film was shown to music director’s after completion. Then they would prepare music as per the demand and theme of story. In this process they were able to contribute some original music also.

The tune of main or theme song is invariably included in back ground music. The back ground music by certain music directors was of very high standard, equal to the songs of films, because they used to work hard and gave their best to film. A careful study by this author has revealed that earlier back ground music of composers was of very high standard. For example, back ground music created by Naushad was so impressive and effective that one music company issued a long play record having pieces of back ground music from different films of Naushad. Shankar-Jaikishan were also were experts in composing this type of music for their films.



One more fact, back ground score of Shanker-Jaikishan has many interesting features. In their music pieces / tunes of future songs could be heard. In film ‘JIS DESH MAIN GANGA BEHTI HAI‘, one constantly hears a tune on violin based on raga Mishra Shivranjani. This tune formed the basis for songJane Kahan Gaye Woh Din‘ in ‘Mera Naam Joker in 1970. One more example of this type can be heard in music style of  Rajesh Roshan. In a small budget film ‘Khatti-Mithi’. There is a tune costly  being played on guitar. It was a pleasant experience for ears. The same tune became the basis for a duet song in Shahrukh-Madhuri starrer Koyla. The song in question is Tanhai-Tanhai-Tanhai.

Some composers have used pure classical pieces while some have taken help of folk music for creating back ground score. The best examples being Madan Mohan and S.D. Burman respectively. The selection and instruments for this type of music is quite obvious. Sad scenes shall have sitar, flute and violin. Fast music would be used in scenes depicting joy, happiness.


Since mid seventies most of the top music directors have almost stopped composing back ground music. Now they use pre-recorded music created by other musicians. This kind of music is also called stock music. One can mention the name of Bappi Lahiri who started his career as back ground music composer in film Madhosh. The original music director of this film was R.D. Burman. In last 3 decades name of one person has become quite well known  in the field of pre-recorded or stock music. He was Datta Dawjekar, who had given back ground music for large number of films including those of big banners. He has also worked with films division of Govt. of India.

In Hindi Cinema one finds many remakes of South Indian films, in some cases, music of original film is also used in the Hindi version.  Despite the fact that  the trend of assigning  back ground score to other started in 70’s, no one can deny the information that famous duo LP carried this task themselves, of course supported by many in their own team.  During last two decades one name has also shone brightly on film music horizon. His work is quite relevant with reference to the subject of this article. He has been music director of many films but has also composed only back ground music for same well known hit films. The reference points to Vanraj Bhatia, composer par excellence, music director of most of Shyam Benegal’s films. Music lovers may be surprised to know that he was also responsible for back ground music of such hits as Ajooba, Bekhudi, Beta, Chamatkar & Damini.

Another person whose talent can be equated with Vanjraj Bhatia, is Viju Shah of Vishavatma, Mohra, Gupt fame. He has also proved his mettle in the field of background music. Sometimes some directors make films on such a large canvas that they really need services of 2 persons, for music of film. The best  example being  Border whose songs and back ground music were composed by Anu Malik and  late Aadesh Shrivastava respectively. Any discussion on  music in Hindi films would be inconclusive if one does not mention name of great Khayyam. Every  film he composed for, music deserved an award. His music is not only melodious but intoxicates you.



Apart from SJ, no composer has used violins so beautifully as Khayyam Saab. He is also master of back ground music. One can visualize many scenes of nature if one listens carefully to his back ground music. One can literally feel gentle breeze, flowing rivulet, water fall, sounds echoing through hills and valleys. Khayyam Saab is of the view that only one composer should handle the songs and back ground score  for a film. Even flamboyant Anu Malik agrees with him.

Extrovert Anu has strong reservations about entrusting the work of background music to a person, other than the main composer. He feels that only the main composer can do justice with the theme of  film. The new millennium has brought many new technological advancements in show business, with this a new breed of musicians has also surfaced rapidly. This bunch of brilliant individuals include names like Surinder  Sodhi,  Salim Suleiman, and Monty. Sodhi has rather become a very familiar name in the world of cine background music as he has more than 50 films to his credit.


Recently Salim-Suleiman have received rave reviews for their creative work in KAAL, Fashion and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. In fact they have reached the present stature  through the background music route. Sanjay Bhansali is a hard taskmaster and does not accept anybody easily. His recent songless saga ‘Black’ had very effective background music created by Monty, nephew of legendary Pyare Lal of L.P., Naresh Sharma, another relative of Pyare Lal is also an achieve background music composer. Payare Lal Sharma of famous duo LP is simply brilliant when it comes to composing background scores.

Recently A.R. Rahman has taken the art of composing back ground music, to a new height by winning the OSCAR in this category. In fact Mr. Rahman  strongly supports the view  that the back ground score should be composed by the original music director.


Because of constant use of stock music, effectiveness of back ground music  has  diluted considerably. Music does not match with scenes in films. That is why we hear classical ragas in westernized party sequence and fast music in scenes of Indian cultural activities. Because of commercialized attitude of music directors, music lovers at receiving end miss out on the essence . It is expected that music directors would try their best to restore the glory of back ground music.

 By Rakesh Giri Goswami

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