Meet Julius Packiam, without whom Bollywood’s biggest films would have been a snoozefest
Julius Packiam is the man responsible for scoring the background music for fast-paced, action packed movies like Tiger Zinda Hai, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Kick.bollywood Updated: Jan 04, 2018 13:38 IST
What’s common between Tiger Zinda Hai, Sultan (2016) and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), apart from the fact that all of them are among the highest-grossers of Bollywood, and star Salman Khan? Well, chances are, most of you don’t have a clue.
That engaging music, which plays in the background when bhai makes an entry, the one that makes us realise that the saviour of the film is here? Imagine that not being there in any of his films? What’s left then is just bhai walking like any other person on screen. And here’s where Julius Packiam’s magic makes it’s presence felt.
He has been in Bollywood for a decade now, and scored the background music for almost every major Hindi motion picture you can think of. Starting with Kabul Express, he went on to work on biggies such as Ek Tha Tiger, Dhoom 3, Baaghi, Tubelight and more recently, Tiger Zinda Hai.
Julius says, “If you were someone from the 80s wanting to pursue a career in music, the options were very few. One had to be skilled in singing, performing, composing, programming for advertisements, AVs, TVCs, documentary films, and if you’re lucky, feature films. I, for once, was luckily asked to do the background music for Kabul Express, which was well appreciated, and from then on, there was no looking back. However, I need to add, once you are recognized as a background music composer, you get typecast as one, which is the reason I’m still doing it but I would love to do songs too, for films.”
As viewers, we don’t realise how incomplete a film is without a good background score. What is the process like? “I feel, as an experiment, audiences should have the option to mute the BGM (background music score) and view a scene. People will find that the scene falls flat. Emotions, be it happiness, sadness, disappointment, thrill, fear and so on, are all complemented through BGM. Having said that, the process for me and my team is and has been tons of fun and laughter, with some quiet moments of work,” laughs Packiam.
However, the very fact that people don’t know that a job like this exists, and is instrumental to a film’s success, speaks volumes. Do BGM composers get enough respect? “For me, the answer is both a ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Yes, because we get our name mentioned in the credits and also get remuneration fees. No, because we do the music for 4/5ths of the film and we are only credited as ‘Background music by’, whereas the people who do the songs, which is maximum 1/5ths of the duration of the film, get credited with the title- Music by.”
“I feel this nomenclature is skewed, as people within the industry itself think that background score only refers to the sounds of footsteps, lightning, thunder etc. Therefore ideally, the credit should read, ‘songs by’…. and ‘background music by..”
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