Entertainment Music 21 Jan 2017 What does a ‘m ...

What does a ‘musical’ mean?

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | KIRUBHAKAR PURUSHOTHAMAN
Published Jan 21, 2017, 12:00 am IST
Updated Jan 21, 2017, 12:34 am IST
Though many lap up the idea that the mere presence of songs in a film itself makes it a musical, a few people in the industry don’t.
A still from La-La Land
 A still from La-La Land

Damien Chazelle’s La- La Land, winner of seven titles in the 74th Golden Globe Awards (incidentally a record), has made the genre ‘musical films’ a topic of frequent conversation. While Hollywood has been treating musical films differently with respect to other genres, all the films that are made in India are considered to be musicals due to the presence of songs. In fact, Tamil film directors like Karthik Subbaraj and Gautham Menon projected their films,

Jigarthanda and Needhanae En Ponvasantham as musicals respectively. Though many lap up the idea that the mere presence of songs in a film itself makes it a musical, a few people in the industry don’t.  

 

“We can’t call our films musicals because Hollywood filmmakers define musical films in terms of the opera and theatre tradition. Ours is a different kind of musical — there have been films like Valli Thirumanam with more than 30 songs in it. But even in our standard of musical films, we have come down in quality. In MGR and Sivaji period, there was some relevance to the song and the story, but now we completely move away from the script and the leads start dancing in some foreign location. In my opinion, films without such out-of-place songs are musicals,” says director Nalan Kumarasamy.

 

The possibility of an out-and-out musical is not viable currently, according to Nalan, “That will be very strange to the audience as well as the producers. The closest we can get to a full-fledged musical is to make something like Minsara Kanavu, which has songs replacing vital scenes.”

Vishal Chandrasekar, the composer of Jil Jung Jak, says, “Even a film which has music from the start to the end is kind of a musical to me. La La Land has a lot of vocals, but musicals can also be without songs and just music. In that case, Jil Jung Jak is a musical as per me. In my part, I am trying to make all my films as musical as they can be when it comes to re-recording.”

 

However, Vishal also agrees that there has been no genuine musical in recent times and it should happen soon — “It has been ages since we got a proper one. Recently, AR Rahman-Vasantha Balan’s Kaviya Thalaivan was one film which has a more musical aspect to it. But even that film has to settle for seven tracks due to commercial demands.”

However, Vasantha Balan is confident about a possibility of a La La Land in Tamil and its success — “When the right music is at the right the place in a film, I think it will be appreciated. So, my Kaaviya Thalaivan was one such attempt to attain that. In a scenario where songs are coming down in numbers, I wanted to make a film with music and songs playing a predominant role like Singin’ In The Rain (1952) and Fiddler On The Roof (1971). But unfortunately the film didn’t work as expected but that doesn’t mean the formula is a failure. When the structure of the film and the songs are in harmony the film will certainly work.”

 

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