Why are we obsessed with songs and dance in our movies??

Often when you are reading the Newspaper, few simple lines can trigger unprecedented, explosive reactions. It happened me few days back, when I read Pakistani Director Shoaib Mansoor ruminating that song and dance routines should have been phased out by now in Indian Movies. His statement was “Ab tak inhe zabardasti ke naach-gaanon se jaan chuda leni chahiye thi (they should have got rid of unnecessary dance and music by now). When I read it, I began to wonder if he is out of his mind or something. Wait… Did I read his name properly? Was he an Asian or some film director from the West, who could probably make such statement? I mean, such statements are palatable to my ears when I hear it from a European or an American film director, pointing out the ludicrous logic of placing a song say, happening at a train in gorgeous New Zealand where the previous frame ended in a train running near Gummudipoondi. I looked at his name again printed in black. After googling his name, much to my dismay, I found out that he was born in the fertile lands of the banks of the river Indus, the cradle of Indian Civilization.
Why are we so obsessed with song and dance in our movies?? As several film critics have analyzed about the presence of songs in movies in umpteen articles, I would like to take a common man approach to understand why songs are and will be an integral part of Indian movies.
Ask any lay man, in the streets why songs are there in the movies. He would simply say that movies run because of songs. There is a large element of truth in it. Most of the damp squibs that came to the screens became watchable because of songs. How else can you explain the success behind movies like Gemini, Thiruda Thirudi.?? Let me make this clear, When I talk about songs, I am not including any of the mindless puking gaana numbers which have no relevance whatsoever to the movies. Before I start venting my fury any further, let me turn to the interesting facets of songs in movies.
Songs, since ages have been the traditional Indian way of telling stories. Our folklore is full of such larger than life, awe-inspiring stories which can easily dwarf contemporary masterpieces like Lord of the Rings. To a Western movie goer , songs may seem illogical and foolish. But to an average Indian viewer they connect with the viewer in an non intellectual plane. Songs in Indian movies are emotional templates which grow in the hearts of the viewer. Let me take an instance which I had already mentioned to explain this. There is this scene in the movie Five Star, one of my favorite movies. The protagonist, an average south Indian yuppie in his twenties, is sitting in a train currently at Gummudipoondi enroute to Madurai. .He sees a pretty girl sitting opposite to him. He is so smitten by her. He observes the way she cusps her hands to eat food. He looks at the small morsels of food hanging at the corner of her curvaceous archery of her lips. He looks at the small twirls of her golden chain nestling in her neck. A mild humming is heard, and in the next frame the protagonist is seen admiring her in a gorgeous looking train with plush sofas in picturesque New Zealand.
For every average middle class Indian, West has always been the ultimate pinnacle of his dreams. Youngsters living either in Mahim or Virudhunagar or Gangtok have their exotic fantasy stories, set either in the breath-taking mountains of Europe or mostly in the El-dorado of Indian consciousness, United States. So, it behooves to construct dreamy sequence only in the West. The viewer who is sitting in the cosy air conditioned comforts theatre, props up either his big time crush in the place of the heroine or herself if he doesn’t have any, picturing himself as the hero on the screen. For few moments the viewer is able to live out his dreams in the perfectly built template of songs. In fact to make the dream setting authentic-wherein lies the director’s intelligence, the protagonist is seen wearing the same jeans and t-shirt in New Zealand as he was wearing in the previous frame in Gummudipoondi.
There is not just the romantic template available for the viewer. There is also one for you to vent out the angst and misery of break -up in a dwindled relationship. If you are one of those people who wanna take your libido and testosterone hormones for a roller-coaster, there are plenty of templates made exclusively by Mahesh Bhatt’s production house. However if you are a south Indian and prefer to have a local vadapav instead of burger, you ought to look at several desi Malayalam Templates. There are also varying templates for parental love, friendship and last but not the least, templates for the purest of all emotions, devotion for the divine. Indian movies like our own big Indian thali, have something or the other to offer for everyone.
However, not every director think so much before flying off to West. Most of the Indian directors nowadays find it as a ritual to go to Europe and make the hero dance naively in the middle of the road like a clown to senseless, jarring beats, much to the amusement of the local folks. This phenomenon has resulted in promotion of exotic locales amongst wealthy Indian movie viewers who decide to visit the place for the star value. Realizing this phenomenon, tourism ministries of various European countries have begun to give special promotions to directors to lure them to shoot the songs. Probably, Shoaib Mansoor would have thought of such mindless songs shot abroad when he commented about the songs.Having written so much about these songs, there are also people who wait for songs in the screen simply to vent out the bottled up feelings of discomfort caused by the freezing temperatures.
I am neither a Nostradamus nor Bhejan Daruwallah . However, without the help of any tarot cards or whatever, I can prophesize that no matter people wait for songs either to go on a short sweet trip to Eden or just piss off their frustrations for having the bought the expensive ticket, they will remain forever in our movies.

5 comments:

Word Sorcière said...

Nice post in favour of the song and dance routines, but don't you feel your examples are too Tamil centric? How would an average reader know that, Gemini was a hit movie with half a line story catapulted to success due to half a dozen hit songs?

You missed out on the fact that without these songs all our marriage processions and Ganesh Pooja pandals will be devoid of music.

I have different opinions yet; I say amen to your prophecy.

Incorrigibleoptimist said...

hi word soceiere...thanks 4 ur comments. I do know that i ve been bit tamil centric, the reason being that several movie critics ve written lots about hindi movies and songs, so i felt it to be redundant... N yeah..its true they r omnipresent in all marriage occassions..Do read other posts n post ur comments..Thanks....

Crazy Mind | എന്‍റെ ലോകം said...

good one.. liked it..

Venky said...

@ crazy mind,
hey..didnt see ur comment for quite some time....thank u so much:)

Crazy Mind | എന്‍റെ ലോകം said...

good one.. liked it..