When you have so many movies, and in turn movie songs, getting released every year, there is bound to be a set of tropes that’ll unwittingly become part of the template. Here are some tropes in Malayalam movie songs that I’ve observed.
Okay, say you have to introduce your young bubbly bold heroine to your audience and you want to draw the “show-don’t tell” card? Easy. Have your Music Director whip up a peppy song and have your leading lady and her gang dance around town for it. Preferably on an open-top SUV.
You’ve established that your two lead characters are into each other. Say, you want to bring in a sense of progression to their relationship but don’t actually have the time to write about it? Enter the montage song. This is a tried and proven method to effectively convert a movie worth of love/relationship drama into a capsule form.
The character or characters you loved and travelled so far into the movie has hit a huge roadblock when it comes to their story arc. The song should usually come immediately after an emotional highpoint so that it helps nail the drama and the sadness to the audience. Siddique-Lal used to be the masters at the effectively placed pain-inducing songs. *I’m in a glass case of emotions*
The Celebration with a hint of Sinister
This is a Rafi-Mecartin/Shafi special sauce. A good deal of their movies would have a huge celebratory occasion (usually a wedding) and with that comes a celebration song. But there’s always one or more characters in the song who’s on a completely different trip (B story) altogether and you can sense that something sinister is brewing. Of course, the culmination of the song brings in the B Story to the front and centre.
Do you have a lead character who’s getting increasingly overlooked as the movie progresses? We have a solution for that too. Make the character really good at singing. Preferably a semi-classical number. Let them sing to everyone present, their problems are known to disappear almost instantly.
The Sad Song set on a Beach
How is this song different from the other sad songs? This is usually sung by our lead alone, and it’s more of a contemplative piece rather than an all-out wallow-in-sadness kind.
The Tourism Package
Our lead actors are pretty grounded folks living in small Kerala towns or villages, and they may not even be doing financially well. But for a song, we’ll see them dancing and romancing in foreign towns while we and the nice local folks around them gape at the absurdity of all of this.
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Does your hero-centric script need a token love story to draw in the desired demography, but you’re too lazy to write an actual full-fledged love story arc? Write a song into the script where the heroine is not interested in the hero at the beginning, in fact, have her actively run away from him. But not to worry, by the end of the song, they’d have fallen in love.
The Flashback Song
These songs are usually placed in pivotal moments in the cinema. And yes, I agree that these aren’t unnecessary as some of the other song tropes here, the way it’s hammed in is too lazy. It’s almost always shot with that “flashback” filter as the older actors in younger make up go about their almost too happy, too perfect lives.
What are some other tropes that you’ve observed in Malayalam movie songs? Tell us in the comments below.