Since times immemorial, the Hindi film industry, or Bollywood, as it is commonly referred to, has given us numerous famous actor-singer duos. Think of Raj Kapoor-Mukesh, Rajesh Khanna-Kishore Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan-Sudesh Bhonsle, Shah Rukh Khan-Abhijeet Bhattacharya, and so on. However, in the recent past, mostly over the last decade or so, one can notice a break in this pattern, with most songs being played as background numbers in Hindi movies.
For example, in the movie Wake Up Sid, the song ‘Iktara’ grabbed a number of awards, but it was not your usual lip-synced track. As Konkona Sen walks along the streets of Mumbai, the wind tossing and twirling her hair all over her face, the song perfectly blends into the vibe of that moment, expressing her thoughts and feelings at that point in the movie. In fact, many films of today’s times begin and end with tracks that so beautifully define the essence of the movie, without making it a lip-sync number. The Dil Dhadakne Do track from the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is also another perfect example of this drift.
Montage Sequences without lip-syncing
The new-age musicians feel that this trend is gradually on the wane, since Hindi movies have evolved immensely over the years, and the films with contemporary themes, characters, ideas, and storylines that are being churned out today do not need lip-synced numbers. The good thing is, this is giving composers the chance to experiment with new singers since they need not worry about whose voice will go well with that of the protagonist. Without lip-synced songs, the picturisation can be filmed as a montage, with the songs becoming a part of the narrative, and often taking it successfully forward.
With the new filmmakers too introducing new sensibilities into their work, the concept of lip-synced songs strikes them as somewhat outdated. Maybe this can also be attributed to a major influence of Western movies, which never had the running-around-the-trees song-and-dance routine which Bollywood has popularized since ages. With more and more realistic cinema being made these days, people too seek a slice of life from the movies, something that they can relate to, and not a make-believe world where the lead characters break into a song in the middle of a road, or anywhere, for that matter.
The Usage of Lip-syncing in Bollywood
This is not to say that lip-syncing has completely been done away with, not in the least. But they are being used selectively and sensibly, where it suits the situation. For example, in a movie like Rock On, we see situations where friends are jamming together. In such a situation a lip-synced song will go well. Or in the more recent release Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, the male lead is a singer, so he has been given a number of lip-synced songs, besides, of course, a couple of disco numbers, which are also quite believable.
It is also interesting to note, that in today’s times, lip-synced songs are being used not only if they fit a situation, but also the characters. For example, in Cheeni Kum, it would have been pretty odd to show a lip-synced love song out of the blue, between the intelligent, no-nonsense female lead played by Tabu, and the much older chef, played by Amitabh Bachchan.
Besides, with many quality songs being used in the background in new-age Hindi films, they also serve as tools that drive the story leaps. While a lip-synced song makes any jump in the story appear silly and forced, songs in the background are often being seen to take the story forward, to different phases and stages, which look quite convincing to the audience. For example, in My Name is Khan, the songs Sajda and Tere Naina play hauntingly in the background as the film moves from one phase to another.
Of course, at the end of the day, Hindi films won’t be the same, without some of its characteristic elements, lip-synced songs surely being one of them. It is just that, the new-age filmmakers have a wider scope of experimenting, as far as the presentation of songs in films is concerned. They can afford to do a song differently, rather than thinking in terms of only song-and-dance-routine. Further, singers are also now free to give the song the treatment it deserves, rather than only thinking about how their voice will match with the star on whom the song is being picturised. It is also more about the emotion which that voice is representing, and subsequently reflecting the situation on- screen along with the emotions.
Industry insiders and Bollywood biggies largely hold the opinion that definitely Hindi films will take up the rising trend of background songs more and more in the long run, but the fundamentals cannot be absolutely obliterated. For mass appeal, there should ideally be a balance of the old and the new. Lip-syncing will definitely not go away entirely.
What do you think?