Sound, a Game-Changer in Bollywood
Through the 1930s sound in Indian film was recorded in live synchronization, that is, on set or on location. Playback singing, dubbing, elaborate background scores, and foley design, which have become synonymous with mainstream Indian film production today, came into use only from the 1940s onward. Early talkie actors had to sing their own songs and speak their own dialogues; even music orchestras were recorded live on set either as part of the diegesis or hidden off-frame. Sync sound technology altered the relations of the human body with the filmmaking apparatus and produced a new repertoire of cultural techniques. Directors and assistants learned to amplify their voices over megaphones to communicate with a larger group of workers, actors learned voice modulation and oral expressivity, and off-screen jobbers learned to stay silent during a take.
Bombay city in the early twentieth century not only was a city of mediated speech, it was also a city of noise. The transition of talking cinema necessitated a heightened awareness of the acoustic environment of production.