Written by Divyatha B.
Reeling through the television commercials by the turn of the year, what do you think? Either you were a thorough scrutineer or the inert kind or possibly the type who revels at the tv commercials than serious programmes. In any case, most ads are palpable leaving a mark with the amazing jingles they go with, interestingly with accompaniments of popular Bollywood numbers that have been trending for quite sometime flavouring the ads a lot more.
“This is nothing new,” says noted ad-film maker Vijay Marur. “Bollywood is an essential part of our social setup and everything that Bollywood does or portrays is the easiest tool to gain memorability. Even ad films abroad pick Hollywood music.”
The ‘90s had a tea ad (Tea City) that used the film song Bekaraar karke humei. The same number has been tweaked for perfume ad (Secret Temptations). And can you forget the waggish effeminate boss who plays a Helen cooing and dancing to Yeh mera dil for Chocofils! One of the Skoda ads used staccato from Pag Ghunghroo Bandh. Does this mean there’s a dearth of musical creativity?
“No. There’s a shortage of creative risk-taking abilities of the clientele who pour in crores of money, and if I can’t create something so originally brilliant, then Bollywood is the easy way out. Using a memorable chart is a bit of a short-cut, an attitude that I don’t mind,” says Vijay Marur.
And the copyright issues? “Earlier there were no copyright issues, but there is a certain amount of caution involved now.”
Talking about the jingles changing over the years, he says, “Essentially it involves time, cost and generational issues. There is a shift from the laid back to the more urgent and more immediate kind of texture. Even if I have sixty seconds to tell a story, using Indian music usually takes more time than that to build up a tempo, which doesn’t match the pace of the present generation. An ad jingle has to breakthrough. It has to sound urgent with the climax building up right from the intro with a start-middle-end high staccato while keeping up with the need for abbreviating the scope of time. It is a 15 seconds soft monologue vs. 15 seconds staccato rock in a world of abridged language. It is difficult to incorporate soft music.”
When asked about the external cultural influences on ad film-making, he says, “Advertising is not different from other passages of life where everything is influenced by things that are not Indian.”
And how about the financial dynamics acting as determinants for the music involved? “Music has gone into the times of a twenty-five piece orchestra where everything had to be live. You had to think twice to pay the studio, the crew, etc. Now there are talented musicians creating music on computers, everything is sampled, databases are created. But music has changed through costing. Now a creative piece or the cost of an individual composition has changed exponentially, while licensed music can be obtained at marginal costs.”
Ad-jingle composer Naresh has to say, “It’s really determined by the need of the hour, the concept and the director. Bollywood music strikes well and if it’s a well-known number, why not adopt it. After all, it’s a question of how well the audience will connect with the ad.”
Of course, the element of nostalgia is always there. Reminiscing on the ad-films of the bygone years, can we label a period as the golden era of ad-film making? “It is a very interesting phenomenon. It’s like saying ‘our school/college was better in our days’. The same goes for ad films too. However, bringing nationalistic spirit and more originality has come into the picture which is furthered by graphics and music to make it uniquely Indian.”
With changing landscape of ad jingles, one thing is to remain constant – the imprint they leave on our minds, be it any sort of music they use. They are here to stay for sure.