maj 14, 2013

Where are the title tracks?

Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi — even as you are saying this line, we are sure you must be humming the song that had become the anthem in the early 2000s. So popular was the title track that people who haven’t seen the serial also recall it. Same is the case with shows like NukkadYeh Jo Hai ZindagiDekh Bhai Dekh, BR Chopra’s MahabharatSailaaband Hasratein, to name a few. But these serials are more than a decade old. Can you think of any recent title track that has caught your fancy? Well, don’t fret if you can’t. Except for the titles that are borrowed from film songs like Bade Acche
 Laggte HaiPyaar Ka Dard Hai Meetha Meetha Pyara Pyara,Kya Hua Tera Vaada, it will be difficult. And that’s because almost 90 percent of the serials today don’t have title tracks! 
Titles on a song
Title songs were played as the credits rolled, just before the serial started. It was a signal for everyone to assemble in front of the TV. So important were title tracks that producers would try and rope in the biggest singers and composers for the special song. While RD Burman had composed and sung the title track of a serial called Subah back in the eighties, Kishore Kumar lent his voice for Yeh Jo Hai Zindagiand Mahendra Kapoor sang Mahabharat track in his inimitable style. 

Ghazal king Jagit Singh composed and rendered several title tracks including Mirza GhalibKahkashanand Sailaab (composed by Talat Aziz). Producer Rajan Shahi (Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai) who has been in the industry for over twenty years recalls that a title track was a must for every show. “It was like identification for the show. When I entered the building and heard the track, I would know the serial’s about to start,” he says.
Change of track
It was when serials were aired as weeklies that title tracks were unfailingly played at the beginning. When weeklies gave way to dailies, initially, channels continued with title tracks. But as the episodes and years progressed, they preferred to replace them with quick lead-ins to the show. At times one scene of the show would be aired and then the title track with credits would follow. But even that stopped when a daily soap turned out to be long-running. As producer Asit Modi (Taarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chasmah) says, “Audiences get bored with the song if played everyday. They prefer fresh content instead.” He, however, maintains that title tracks are important at least when a new show is introduced. “It helps in building an identity, a brand. I still remember the title tracks of Malgudi Days and Dekh Bhai Dekh,” he points out. 

Title tracks out
With people running short of time and patience, channels and producers consider title tracks superfluous. Rarely do you see a full-fledged song aired before the serial commences. If at all, just a line or two mentioning the title is played. Says Ajay Balwankar, Content Head, Zee, “The one-minute duration of the song eats into the content time, which is why we refrain from using it.” 

Producer BP Singh (CID) feels title tracks are redundant. “There is no need to invest time and money in a title track. Viewers don’t have time to listen to it. It is more beneficial to invest in the story and production. If we need, we just borrow popular songs from films — they are sure shot guarantee of success,” he explains. 

Theme songs in
Today emphasis is on theme songs that play in the background during pivotal scenes. As Shahi says, “Producers are concentrating on music themes and recording interesting individual pieces.” 

And though he had none other than Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik sing a happy and sad version of Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, it was used according to the mood in the episode and not as a title track. Recently, Sanjay Leela Bhansali had popular singers Shreya Ghoshal and Javed Ali croon forSaraswatichandra but even that is played in bits and parts in the episode!