SONG PICTURIZATION TECHNIQUES OF SUBHASH GHAI

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Song and dance are integral part of Indian culture and hence India cinema too. I feel that songs and dance will never go out of fashion into Indian Cinema.

Growing up in 90s, the exposure for songs was through radio and limited television programs like Rangoli and Chitrahaar on Doordarshan, before the arrival of Mtv and Channel V. One use to very rarely go to cinema theater to watch a movie, so there was not question of repeated playing of the songs as opposed to today’s internet age. So whater small amount of exposure in cinema hall was very valuable and so had much impact on out mind.

This cinema hall exposure was very prominent for few Indian cinema directors, like Raj Kapoor, Chetan Anand, Manmohan Desai, Subhash Ghai, Rakesh Roshan, David Dhawan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, whose song picturization techniques have been very influenced and had long lasting impact on my mind. They took much pain in their song picturization and equal to how they picturized their scenes, if not better. Their songs also had a story along with the fun element.

In today’s fast pace era, the techniques and technology has evolved but songs are losing its flavor and importance as a key element in story narrative in midst of grabbing maximum screen time and also getting attention with the fast moving internet generation, who watches songs on their mobile phones. However, studying the techniques of these filmmakers itself would give us enough understanding for an effective song picturization.

This article focuses on songs from films directed by Subhash Ghai and tries to figure out techniques he used to make a song much appealing and connecting it to why it became so popular.

In his career span of 38 years, Subhash Ghai have directed 19 features films. These films had in total 145 songs, which makes it 4 songs a year. Subhash Ghai has collaborated with many music directors like Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Kalyanji Anandji, Rajesh Roshan to A. R. Rehman.

The songs in his movies was always melodious, although this article will focus on the picturization techniques and not the audio part. I also understand that a song picturization involves different artists as Director of Photography, Costume Designer, Production Designer and editor too, sill I have considered this as Subhash Ghai songs, as all these songs had a particular touch of one person.

I have mainly focused on his most popular and successful songs from his entire career. Table 1 gives the list of songs studied for this article.

SR. No. Year Film Song Title
1 1976 Kalicharan “Ja Re Ja O Harjai”
2 1979 Gautam Govinda “Ek Ritu Aaye Ek Ritu Jaaye”
3 1980 Karz “Om Shanti Om” (Meri Umar Ke Naujawanon)
4 “Paisa Yeh Paisa”
5 “Ek Haseena Thi”
6 “Dard-E-Dil”
7 “Main Solah Baras Ki”
8 1982 Vidhaata “Hathon Ki Chand Lakeeron Ka”
9 1983 Hero “Ding Dong”
10 “Lambi Judaai”
11 “Nindya Se Jaagi Bahaar”
12 “Pyar Karne Wale Kabhi Darte Nahi”
13 “Tu Mera Hero Hai”
14 1985 Meri Jung “Zindagi Har Kadam”
15 “Bol Baby Bol Rock-N-Roll”
16 1986 Karma “Mera Karma Tu”
17 “Aye Watan Tere Liye”
18 1989

 

Ram Lakhan “My Name Is Lakhan”
19 “Tere Naam Liya”
20 “Main Hoon Hero”
21 “Bada Dukh Dina O Ramji”
22 “Bekhabar Bewafa”
23 1991 Saudagar “Ilu Ilu”
24 “Imli Ka Boota”
25 “Saudagar Sauda Kar”
26 “Radha Nachegi”
27 “Mohabbat Ki Ki”
28 “Imli Ka Boota” – v2
29 1993 Khalnayak “Aaja Sajan Aaja”
30 “Paalkhi Mein Hoke Sawar Chali Re”
31 “Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai (Female)
32 “Der Se Aana Jaldi Jaana”
33 “Nayak Nahi Khalnayak Hoon Main”
34 1997 Pardes “Nahin Hona Tha”
35 “Meri Mehbooba”
36 “Yeh Dil Deewana”
37 “I Love My India”
38 “Do Dil Mil Rahe Hain”
39 1999 Taal “Ishq Bina”
40 “Taal Se Taal”
41 “Nahin Samne”
42 “Ramta Jogi”
43 “Kariye Naa”
44 “Ni Main Samajhh Gayi”
45 “Kahin Aag Lage”
46 “Ishq Bina Ishq Bina”
47 2001 Yaadein Yaadein (Male)
48 Jab Dil Miley
49 Eli Re Eli
50 Aye Dil Dil Ki Duniya
51 2005 Kisna: The Warrior Poet “Hum Hain Iss Pal Yahan”
52   “Woh Kisna Hai”
53 2008 Black & White Main Chala
54 2008 Yuvvraaj “Tu Meri Dost Hai”
55 “Shanno Shanno”
56 “Tu Muskura”
57 “Mastam Mastam”

 

For understanding purpose, I have categorized the songs shots (not in any order) in the following category:

  • Songs in line with the ongoing story: Probably the best characterisitcs of songs of Subhash Ghai movies are that they are in line with the story. There would be hardly any song in his movies that are out of context of the story flow.

 

  • Use of Wide angle: Subhash Ghai loves the big screen medium and thus loves selecting location which gives him scope to use a wide shot. There is a wide shot in almost every song he has picturized, ranging from Gautam Govinda (1979) till Yuvvraaj (2008).

 

  • Picturesque locations/visuals: Just like use of wide angle shots, Subash Ghai is also fond of photographic beautiful locations across his films. He also also created beautiful visuals inside a set too for films like Taal.

  • Bright colors: Another noticeable part for Subhash Ghai’s song are the use of bright color. Ranging from Songs of Kalicharan (1976) to Yuvvraaj (2008). Just look at the use of bright colors into any song which will enhance the experience for the audience.
  • camera push in towards characters: Cinematography wise this is one of the peculiar characteristics of Subhash Ghai’s songs. There would always be a visual where he refrains from using a static or zoom shot, but uses a more dynamic dolly shots, which movies towards the characters to create a dramatic effect on screen.
  • Camera in motion: The camera in Subhash Ghai’s songs is hardly static, almost as if audience is dancing through the camera along with the music.
  • Funny story element within the song: Subhash Ghai also tends to use some comical element within his song. This is used as an entertainment light hearted purpose and I feel it is a technique adopted from stage play.
  • Blocking and Staging: In most of songs of Subhash Ghai, the camera angle, camera movement and blocking of actors are so precisely linked with the rhythm of the song that creates a magic on screen and transfers the songs energy into the audience. It seems that he had already planned it before the shot rolled.
  • Mythological connection and patriotic connection: Mythological and patriotic connection is also an important element that Subhash Ghai has effectively used in his songs and ultimately to connect with the audience. This connection is not only in the form of images of god-godesses on screen but also in names of the movie characters like Ram-Lakhan, Radha-Kishan, Ganga etc.
  • Detailed production design: One major aspect of Subash Ghai’s songs is the detailed sets made for each and every song. There is much thought process and detailing gone into every set and its purpose in story telling. The set designing for songs can itself be a one elaborated topic for discussion. This is one toll that is very rarely put into consideration while picturization of the song.
  • Choreography: Subash Ghai’s films have always been known for the lavish choreography he uses extensively in his songs. Many key elements of the character’s emotional journey of the story are enhanced with these choreography in the songs.
  • Dreamy surreal moments: Subash Ghai also frequently uses dreamy sequence in his song to add a particular mood. Seldom the characters would move into their dreamy world in between the songs. I feel very few directors are using this technique so frequently.
  • Tight closeup beauty shots: There is hardly any mid shot of the characters of Subhash Ghai’s songs. He loves taking tight closeup shots of his actors. This is visible in almost every song of his.
  • Use of frame with a frame: One of the eye catchy technique used by Subhash Ghai is the use of “Frame within a Frame”. This is used by dividing the screen manually by vertical or circular shapes and thus focusing the audiences attention to a particular character and also adding life to the static frame.
  • Separating lead character from background: Subhash Ghai uses bright colored costumes for the lead characters to separate them from the background. This helps in directing the audiences focus to the lead actor.
  • Use of painting: Subash Ghai also uses paintings to enhance the mood of the songs. This is evident in different songs across different films, ranging from Hero (1980) to Kisna (2005)
  • Elaborate camera movement: Subhash Ghai also uses extensive camera movements at key points into the songs. These are mostly circular track songs, but sometimes also mix of dolly and pan shots into a single take. This helps in making the frame richer and more dynamic.
  • Use of in camera split screen: Subash Ghai tries to maximize the use of images into the frame by using mirrors for split screen or a split screen effect. This technique was used much in the 90s and might not be relevant in todays song picturization. But creative use of mirror can give an additional depth to a shot.
  • Silhouette: Silhouette is the image of a person, animal, object or scene represented as a solid shape of a single color, usually black, with its edges matching the outline of the subject. Subhash Ghai extensively utilizes this technique wherever possible for enriching his frame.
  • Light beams: Another technique used by Subhash Ghai is most of the songs is use of a light beam across the frame. This is a very old technique and gives the frame much depth and richness.
  • Creative Picturizations: I also found some creative picturization of some shots within these songs, which I was not able to put into any category. Some of the examples are given below.
  • Cameos: One of the interesting part of Subhash Ghai’s songs is his cameos into the songs. He has featured into all his films, mostly in songs, since Karz (1980).
  • I hope these techniques would open up some imagination for the new filmmakers and they are able to use them for their future productions. I would also urge to go online and enjoy these songs for the sheer joy of filmmaking and song picturization.

Bhushan Kankal

 

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