Centenary Of Indian Cinema

Music Maestro R C Boral – Introduced Playback Music in Films

R.C. Boral (Rai Chand Boral) is India’s First Music Maestro who ruled Bollywood before the music directors like Naushad, Shankar Jaikishen and SD Burman became famous.

R.C. Boral holds the distinction of giving the art of Playback singing to Film Industry and discovering the legendary singer KL Saigal – the singer who gave hit  songs like Babul Mora Naihar Chhooto Hi Jaye…….(Street Singer, 1938) and  Ek Bangla Bane Nyara ……(President, 1937) under the music direction of R.C. Boral.

R C Boral was born on 19 October, 1903 in Calcutta in an affluent, musical family. As a child, Boral learned the basic basics of classical music from great stalwarts of Hindustani Musical Ustaads. Hence he won the ‘Saraswati Mahamandal Award’ at a young age and by the age of 24 he was the Head of All India Radio music programmes in Kolkatta. He was soon selected by B N Circar’s film studio New Theatres and had the distinction of giving music in the First Bengali Talkie film Dena Paona (1931) produced by New Theatres.

R C Boral‘s biggest contribution to film music is the introduction of playback singing. Rai Chand Boral was the first to use the arranged skill of playback singing in the film Dhoop Chhaon (1935) which was a remake of the Bengali version Bhagyachakra. It may be noted that both the films were directed by film maker Nitin Bose. Before the advent of playback singing filmmaker had several hurdles like musicians have to be hidden behind curtain, mikes cleverly hidden and actors had to be selected who had an inborn talent for singing. This was a difficult task.

Annoyed by the technical problems that posed while filming and recording a live song R.C. Boral along with sound engineer Mukul Bose (Brother of Nitin Bose) experimented the invention of playback singing. The first song was Main Khush Hona Chaahun, Khush Ho Na Sakoon sung by Parul Ghosh, Suprova Circar and Harimati. The song was filmed as a ‘stage performance’ song.

Inspired by the discovery of playback singing R.C. Boral went a step ahead and introduced background music score in Chandidas (1943), which is the biggest hit of New Theatres that was made in Hindi and Bengali.

R.C. Boral is also the music director who introduced Sound Mixing that is use of multiple instruments like violin, sitar, mandolin and sarangi for recording a song!! He also introduced western instruments like the organ, piano and cello and created symphony form of music in the films made by New Theatres.

In the 30’s R.C. Boral was paid the highest monthly salary of Rs. 1,200/- which was a huge amount. R.C. Boral was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award the highest award in Indian cinema, given by Government of India, in 1978!! Besides Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama awarded him Sangeet Natak Akademi award the same year in 1978!

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