Hindi film songs and the cinema
This thesis explores the relationship of Hindi film songs with Hindi cinema from the
1950s, especially emphasizing the present day. It is based on fieldwork completed in
Bombay from 1998-2000 and the analysis of film songs and their picturizations. The
main question addressed is: 'How far can film songs be seen as an independent tradition
of popular music and how far are they a part of their parent films and Indian cinema?'
Chapter 1 surveys previous scholarship on film songs and introduces their
Chapter 2 deals with the production process of film songs, identifying the role of
various personnel in their creation including the music director (composer), lyricist and
Chapter 3 addresses the musical style of film songs and its development in the
light of both their cinematic and popular music roles.
Chapter 4 turns to the use of Western music in film song from the perspective of
meaning. Is Western music used in the same way in Hindi films as in Hollywood films,
and if so, how, if music is not a universal language? Is the presence of Western music
in film songs just due to hegemony? Song and background score material is analysed in
its dramatic context, and Indian and Western music theory and interview material drawn
on to answer these questions.
Chapter 5 looks at the commercial life of film songs, addressing the question of
whether songs sell films or films sell songs through an examination of the marketing
and profitability of film songs in various eras.
Chapter 6 discusses the reception of film songs, their popularity, how audiences
come into contact with them, and their appropriation by audiences. Adorno's profile of
mass music as alienating is revisited with reference to film song.