There was a time when actors sang their own songs that were mostly composed by them. Then came the clear segregation between singers and music directors. This was followed by Sangeetkaar-jodis … Husanlal-Bhagatram, Shankar-Jaikishan to name a few. In the recent times, there has been a major trend of multiple music directors composing for a single movie – each one trying to do justice to the song with their individual “styles”. However, this blog focuses on another recent phenomenon that is now quite rampant … films in which one – just one – song is done by a ‘guest’ composer. In my opinion, this is primarily being done for obvious reasons…to boost the film’s opening draw by providing that one catchy number which could appeal big-time to the masses.
In the very recent 2013 release Bullett Raja, Sajid-Wajid is the main composer and gave a rather melodious Saamne Hai Savera, but all the promos concentrated on the item number Tamanche Pe Disco that was composed by guest composer Punjabi pop artiste RDB, who seems to be the king of these Punjabi item numbers. Sajid-Wajid seem okay with this –… in the Dabangg (2010) days, when the whole country was reeling under the ‘Munni Badnaam‘ craze (composed by guest composer Lalit Pandit), it was S-W themselves who truly benefited from the rest of the outstanding score of Dabangg. When Anand Raj Anand provided a rather tepid score in Welcome (2007), Sajid-Wajid were again summoned to do the title-track this hit movie. Sure enough, in 2012, it was their song ‘Mashallah’ in Aditya Chopra’s Ek Tha Tiger in which the other songs composed by Sohail Sen did not work very well.
Usually that is the prominent reason why such guest composers are summoned – a last-ditch effort to save the music score and the film itself. In the 90’s, Anand Raj Anand was brought in to salvage Major Saab with the dance-friendly ‘Sona Sona‘ in a very lukewarm Aadesh Shrivastava score, and the music actually sold because of this one song! Anu Malik’s Ishq Kameena in Shakti – The Power (2002) worked on the charts but could not make that Ismail Darbar-composed film work at the box office.
Sometimes the reasons may not be just to boost popularity… while today the music of Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (2013) is a huge hit, it took Sanjay Leela Bhansali a while to step in officially as a composer. He had dabbled with many ‘unofficial’ compositions in his early films … starting with Pt. Birju Maharaj’s thumri Kaahe Chhed Chhed Mohe in the Ismail Darbar score of Devdas. Then came Saawariya, otherwise composed by Monty Sharma, that Bhansali first ‘officially’ tried his hand at composing with Thode Badmaash Ho Tum. A lovely melody, O Saathiya recorded by composer M.M. Kreem and lyricist Anand Bakshi for Zakhm (1998) but never used in the film found a place in the Anu Malik score of Saaya (2003).
And this is not purely a recent phenomenon – it has existed earlier too, although not as often. Two films in the history of Hindi cinema have had R.D. Burman and Anu Malik come together in one movie – Mazhar Khan’s Gang (only one song was scored by R.D. Burman, because he passed away soon after signing the film) and Rajkumar Santoshi’s Ghaatak (Anu Malik was brought in to make the item song Koi Aaye To Le Jaaye years after R.D.’s demise). Ghulam Ali’s ghazal Chupke Chupke Raat Din was incorporated as a deft situational necessity in Ravi’s comeback film Nikaah and shown as an apt song playing on a gramophone. Feroz Khan zeroed in on British Indian pop sensation Biddu to specially compose an authentic club number Aap Jaisa Koi in Qurbani, even if he had four other superb Kalyanji-Anandji tunes, because he got the opportunity to listen to his work. The S.D. Burman-composed Doli Mein Bithai Ke adorned his son R.D. Burman’s awesome Amar Prem score as such a song was needed..
Readers, can you think of any more? Don’t forget to let us know…