One of the most significant examples in recent times is the blockbuster hit, ‘Pathaan’. This Shah Rukh Khanfilm capitalized on the power of viral songs, with two tracks, Besharam Rang and Jhoome Jo Pathaan, capturing the attention of audiences.The controversy surrounding Besharam Rang and the infectious popularity of Jhoome JoPathaan on social media platforms where video reels and shorts are popular, propelled ‘Pathaan’ to unprecedented success.
Similarly, Ranbir Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor’s ‘Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar‘ managed to pique the interest of young audiences through its music during pre-release promotions. The catchy tunes resonated with the target demographic and played a significant role in drawing crowds to the theaters. The film became one of the highest-grossing movies of the year, showcasing the impact of music on audience engagement.
‘Zara Hatke Zara Bachke‘ experienced a surge in pre-release tracking when its songs started gaining popularity, notably Arijit Singh’s soulful rendition of Phir Aur Kya Chahiye. The music complemented the film’s narrative, expressing the characters’ emotions and advancing the story. This successful integration of music with the screenplay seems to have contributed to the film’s overall success.
However, not every film with hit music manages to replicate the same level of success. Salman Khan’s ‘Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan’ boasted several crowd-pleasing numbers but failed to create a viral sensation. Although the film still surpassed the 100 crore mark due to Bhai’s star power, the lack of a compelling storyline prevented it from becoming a blockbuster hit. This highlights the importance of balancing hit music with a well-crafted film.
Coincidentally, films like Kartik Aaryan‘s ‘Shehzada’ and Akshay Kumar’s ‘Selfiee’ lacked standout hit numbers, but it would be premature to attribute their lackluster performance solely to the absence of hit music. Various factors, such as weak marketing strategies or subpar storytelling, could have contributed to their underwhelming box office returns.
Yet, exceptions to the trend do exist. Films like ‘The Kerala Story’ and ‘Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway’ succeeded primarily based on their content, demonstrating that quality storytelling and unique appeal can outweigh the need for hit music. These films captivated audiences with their narratives and showcased that music is not the sole determinant of a film’s success.
Director of ‘Zara Hatke Zara Bachke’, Laxman Utekar emphasises the emotional and storytelling aspect of music in Indian films. He says, “Music is the biggest differentiator between Indian films and foreign films. Our emotions are musical. We express our emotions through music. We make the audience feel what the characters are going through. According to me, music is very important in films but it has to be soulful and with the film. I was fortunate to have music in ‘Zara Hatke Zara Bachke’ that was soulful and pure. And at the same time it lyrically expressed the state of mind and situation of the characters. Music was taking the story ahead. That’s why it was helpful.
Tu Hai Toh Mujhe Aur Kya Chahiye are common words for the middle-class and lower-middle-class families. It conveys their feeling that they don’t care about anything else than the world. They just give importance to relationships. That is the mentality of people living in joint families.
It’s not always the case that films work only because of music. ‘Drishyam 2’ and ‘The Kerala Story’ are examples of that. Of course, music definitely helps commercial films a lot. It catches attention and serves as a great invitation to the audience to come to cinema halls.”
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh asserts that music has been an essential component of Hindi films for decades. He says, “Hindi films are incomplete without music. It is often said music is a film’s soul besides the story.
Over the years, you can see that music has played a crucial part in the success of a film. We cannot forget the music of ‘Mughal-E-Azam’ to ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ or ‘DDLJ’, ‘Maine Pyaar Kiya’ or ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun’.
Music has also contributed to the success of a film. People use to say that one hit song can assure a good opening to the film. I will cite two recent examples. Pathaan’s music was very well promoted. And now ‘Zara Hatke Zara Bachke’ – the two songs became chartbusters. Music acts as a hook to get the audience to the theatres. A good song will always remain fresh. Films may come and go but good songs have recall value.
I guess these days melodies are missing in most movies. And that’s why films are struggling. If music is integrated in the movie, it works well. Music for the sake of adding five songs in the film will not work. Songs cannot be used as fillers. They have to play an important part.
Even in earlier films made by the likes of Raj Kapoor, Shakti Samanta, and Hrishikesh Mukherjee revolved around music. So, music has to be integrated well into the movies.”
Senior producer Ratan Jain, known for backing successful movies like ‘Main Hoon Na’ and ‘Dhadkan’, acknowledges the correlation between hit music and box office success. He says, “If you look at the past records, films that have worked have largely worked because of their music. Very few films have worked without music.”
Recently, the biggest drawback of our films is that there’s no scope for music in our scripts. There’s no music because there’s no romance. The ideas of scripts have changed. That’s why they forcibly insert item numbers that are not an integral part of films.
Earlier on, 4-5 songs would easily fit into the stories. And those films would often work because of music. There are films that had good music but didn’t work at the box office. Music still is a big factor in our films.
These days there are action films and biopics being made, which don’t have scope for music. Music is an important part of all Indian films.
Most films released before 2005 had great music. Now that is not the case and that has affected our box office.
‘Pathaan’ benefitted immensely because of the two songs Besharam Rang and Jhoome Jo Pathaan. These songs have played a big role in Pathaan’s success. Two songs from ‘Zara Hatke Zara Bachke’ are really good, too.
Our audience listens to music but they’re not getting good film music. Earlier, even item songs would have a melody. But in the last 10-15 years not even 10-15 films’ music has attained a cult status. Earlier music was also a good promotional tool for a film. I feel our filmmakers should write more music-related scripts. Even films like the recent release Adipurush have a big scope to make memorable music.”
Trade analyst Atul Mohan offers a balanced perspective, noting that hit music can indeed popularize a film and generate interest among the audience. He says, “In my opinion, hit music can definitely help in popularizing a film and generating interest among the audience. Catchy songs that go viral or become popular can create buzz and attract attention to a movie, especially in the age of social media where music can easily be shared and discovered. However, having hit music does not guarantee box office success. There are several factors that contribute to a film’s success, such as the overall quality of the movie, the marketing strategy, the star power of the actors, and the appeal of the storyline.”
In conclusion, all our experts concur that hit music can play a significant role in a film’s success by creating buzz and attracting audiences. But, it is not the sole determinant of box office success. A movie’s overall quality, storytelling, marketing efforts, and star power also influence its reception. While there are exceptions where films thrive without relying on hit music, the industry recognizes the enduring importance of integrating music effectively to engage audiences and enhance the cinematic experience.