Julius Packiam pointed out how BGM composers get less credit
MUMBAI: Composer Julius Packiam, who was recently nominated for BGS for the movie 83, explained that people don’t give BGM composers much credit. “Music is not meant to be intrusive or distract the audience. It is meant to complement every scene.”
Radioandmusic reached out to India’s nationally award-winning background music composer to find out more about his dedication to music and his thoughts on BGM composers getting their credit every time a film score is mentioned. He also shared his journey as a BGM composer.
Check the interview below:
1. When did you first decide to dedicate your life to music?
It seems a little too dramatic, to devote my life! Yes it’s part of my job and I like the medium and I like the terrain. I love doing it. It’s my passion and I will do it until my last breath. But yeah, I think it happened when I was in bands in my school and college days and I was the leader, the singer in rock bands at that time and when I was singing and the music was playing, and that the crowd enjoyed the kind of response and instant gratification one got gave me goosebumps the whole time I was on stage, and that feeling was like one could easily get addicted.
It is rather a surreal experience and it is overwhelming. From those days, I kind of decided to pursue music. But I didn’t sing for this band too long, I had to hang up my Rock ‘n’ Roll boots, which happened a few decades ago. Post that I started making music and every time I make music I want other people to feel the same as me.
When I create music, people should also get goosebumps and feel really good listening to the music I created.
2. Do you think the composers at BGM get their credit every time a film score is mentioned. Where do you think the problem lies?
It’s a very important question, my diary in fact, but I have the impression that when we talk about the music of a film, especially in our country, it’s about the songs, whereas the music of the film is is actually the background music and it’s playing every scene, whether it’s an action scene, an emotional scene, a comedy scene, it lifts the whole scene and lifts the whole scene.
People don’t give him much credit. They don’t understand it. They ignore it, because the music is not meant to be intrusive or distract the audience. It is meant to complement every scene.
And all over the world it’s accepted as film music, but only in India is it called background music. While the songs in the movie, let there even be one, it gets credit for the music.
So the problem is that our history of cinema is that because at the time…it still made sense because the guys who were doing the songs were also doing the background music but with the times, the people doing the songs were different and the people doing the background music are different but the nomenclature never changed. The credit system still remains the same. It is a bone that I must choose, a spoke in my wheel that I must mend, and I hope others in my field will take this agenda forward as well.
3. You are the name behind BGM for most successful movies, you even won a national award. And you were recently nominated for the BGS for the movie 83. How are you feeling and how do you view your journey so far?
I feel completely overwhelmed and blessed and very, very grateful. When you look at your career from a point where people kind of put you off when you go to college and want you to pursue a steady career, which at the time in the early 90s was to become, you know, an engineering job in an MNC or an MBA, to do other studies. And everyone was like, you know, “You can do music on the side, but you can’t give up on your career, you should have a career that’s steady,” and then despite everything, you’re still pursuing yours, rather, follow your heart and you follow your passion, and you make music and you make a living out of it and slowly get the accolades and get bouquets and sometimes brickbats too, but eventually when you win a national award and other words in the film industry and other industries, I mean, other areas of the music industry, you feel indicated like I know I would do something with it.
And you also send a message to others who are trying to make a career out of it. And they also feel emboldened and feel like they can choose to be musicians and not do work that they maybe don’t like doing or that they don’t feel comfortable doing. So I think it’s important to be role models, if not role models, at least standard bearers so that we are recognized and respected a little bit and that can be a very lucrative profession as well. So my trip so far has been fantastic. No complaints. I have the best job in the world, and I’m very grateful.
4. Different composers could potentially approach the same scene with startlingly different music. Would you say that there can be “bad” and “good” musical decisions for certain scenes? How can some film scores be considered “definitive”?
There is no particular good and bad music and the composer sometimes uses music that goes completely against what the scene requires.
There could be a very aggressive action scene, but the music playing behind it could be very soothing, lyrical, dreamy and incorporate a stylized treatment. And it works brilliantly well.
And the counter is also applicable when there is a very soft scene and the music can be very drastic and imposing and they both work. It is the entire vision of the director and the composer that is in tandem. When a movie is made and watched by a lot of people and it becomes a hit, that piece of music becomes iconic. He stays with you.
Music can be final. Some movies have certain themes, which are iconic like the Star Wars movie series, and JAWS for that matter. You know whether it’s Jurassic Park in movies like The Iconic Themes or whether it’s the Mission Possible series those themes no matter what other music you put in those scenes they’re not gonna work because those themes stand the test time. And they become iconic and they stay forever. They leave a very indelible mark on the memory.
So, I think yes, it can be final and it should be final once the movie is seen and enjoyed. And it continues on various platforms that people watch.
5. What do improvisation and composition mean to you and what are their respective merits for you?
Yes, improvisation is very important. You have to come up with something new, different and unique that bears the signature of a particular film. It shouldn’t sound like music you’ve heard before another movie, which tends to happen more often and composition is a part of that and how you create something new, which is identifiable to that movie and the characters in that movie.
And their respective merits are very important. You obviously have to be very skilled in your form, be able to distinguish between the two and create something new and worthwhile where people think there’s a memorable hook or feeling or style in the music you create.
6. What else is in the pipeline for you in terms of upcoming projects?
My future projects include
1. Jogi, a fantasy film by Ali Abbas Zafar which stars Diljit Dosanjh. I did the background music and some songs in it…a fantastic movie based on the 1984 Sikh riots…it’s out September 16th on Netflix.
2. ‘Kathputli’ starring Akshay Kumar, directed by Ranjit Tiwari… Another fantastic film.
3. Bloody Daddy, a film by Ali Abbas Zafar starring Shahid Kapoor.
4. I am also working on Adbhut, with Nawazuddin Siddiqui directed by Sabbir Khan