As much as songs from films are part of everyday life in India, it seems to me that one often overlooked but beautiful element are the instrumental tunes: dances, background score, themes which recur throughout, and above all title music. I always notice the title music especially and discovered in writing this post that I have already uploaded at least ten title songs in the posts about the movies they belong to. It sets the tone for the film and if I like the opening music a lot I settle in more eagerly for the rest of it: I was hooked on Teesri Manzil immediately by the music and the visuals behind the opening credits:
(Yes, I also buy wine based on how pretty the labels are. I like pretty.)
Title music is so overlooked that it often isn’t included in soundtrack mp3s available for download. It is more often present on old vinyl LPs, which is one reason to be so grateful for those people like PC who make those original soundtracks available for us (see my sidebar for links to them!). And of course unless the entire film is up there (or the titles roll over an actual song with lyrics) they are hard to find on Youtube and other video sites too. I am sometimes compelled to torture myself technologically to rip title tracks from the DVD, simply because I love them so very much.
One category of title music is the dreaded earworm: a tune with the film’s title repeated endlessly and from which you cannot free yourself for days after hearing it. It does help you retain the name of the movie, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing! I am talking of course about things like “Crook crook crook crook crook crook (internaaaa-tional choooooor)” and “Proooooo-feeeeee-ssor PYARE-lal“. Of course I am partial to “Mem Saab!” from the rather dull film by the same name, and this one from Shammi’s Bluffmaster (“Oh bluff! Oh bluff bluff bluff! Maaaaaster!”):
I love how jazzy the whole thing is too, saxophones and trumpets and all. La la la!
Some title music—like the overture in western classic music—incorporates elements of the songs that are in the film. One of my favorites like this is from Seeta Aur Geeta:
How could you not know after this opening sequence that you were going to love every song in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi?
And one of my very favorites is the lovely and lively title music from Brahmachari:
Sometimes the music is just plain gorgeous: the ethereal opening to Waqt, for example. I like this music from the underemployed (because he was “difficult”) Sajjad Hussain for a film called Aakhri Sajda:
And Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam gives us this appropriately mournful but beautiful title track:
With one exception the themes in this post are from the 1960s or 1970s. The sixties had its “Cha cha cha” sound which just makes me want to dance, while the seventies tore the roof off the sucker with funkadelic grooves and a big orchestral sound appropriate for the sprawling epics of that decade (I will not discuss the eighties and its abysmal disco).
Although I was disappointed by the film, I love the intro to 1968’s Kismat:
Two of my favorite title songs are also for two movies I like very much: Dharmatma and Sholay. The first is as larger than life as the title character is, and introduces “eastern” elements anticipating the Afghani setting.
Sholay‘s titles with its jangly guitars and American West sound puts us firmly in the mood for the saga of frontier justice which follows.
What title music do you particularly remember or play over and over?
While you ponder that I will leave you with another common type of title music: the Ear-Boggling Hollywood Ripoff. Here for your listening pleasure is the Shaitani Dracula Theme (Bond Remix). It’s not technically a favorite; think of it maybe as a…bonus?
Update: Since people seem to like this post, I’m adding links to the three other title songs I’ve posted here before didn’t include above. Those are the title songs from Chhaila Babu, Hawas, and The Train. Enjoy!