In early days of Cinema, when sound had not arrived, everything was shown visually. No synchronized recorded sound was used but only live sounds. Be it Charlie Chaplin, D W Griffith or Sir Alfred Hitchcock, every director was busy experimenting with visuals. With the advent of sound, it became an integral part of the films. With increasing number of films, new experiments with sound begin to happen.
What is a Sound Bridge in Cinema?
A Sound Bridge is a transitional device and a dynamic storytelling tool, used in a film to connect one visual scene to another through sound. It leads an audience in or out of a scene.
How it was used creatively in films
When Ramesh Sippy’s ‘Sholay’ was released on 15th August 1975, India was going through a struggling phase of emergency. Sentiments of people were quite sensitive all over the country. At this stage, a film involving a lot of bloodshed and acts of vigilante by the protagonist would have added much fuel to the already existing fire. Therefore, the censor board asked Ramesh Sippy to draw a line somewhere and to change its ending (in the original ending Thakur kills Gabbar).
Ramesh Sippy actually changed the ending, which had to be reshot. But then there was another scene in the film which was overly sensitive.
Consider this scene from film ‘Sholay’.
To take revenge from Thakur, Gabbar Singh kills his entire family. He even doesn’t spare the small boy and kills him too. The audience doesn’t see any blood or shot. The censor board didn’t allow it back in 1975 as they considered it sensitive.
Director Ramesh Sippy converted this genuine problem into a creative solution and with the help of a sound bridge, he connected the killing scene with the arrival of Thakur. The sound of gunshot is never heard, but we only hear the sound of steam engine through which Thakur arrives. The positioning of two shots implies that he killed the boy.
In the whole scene, not a single visual of direct violence is shown. All the other characters are shown falling to bullets in slow motion and freeze frames.
To conclude, this was a big technical achievement by the director. It also opened the doors to various other film-makers who were struggling with such genuine issues. However, auteurs like Satyajit ray, Bimal Roy, Raj Kapoor already left an indelible mark on various filmmakers, yet the power of cinema and its audio-visual medium is such that every day is a learning day.