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Magic of recreation

Rajiv Vijayakar, Dec 2 2017, 23:38 IST
Recreating old songs is a popular trend in Bollywood today.

Recreating old songs is a popular trend in Bollywood today.

The trend, really speaking, began 15 years ago. But the proportions recreated songs have reached in 2017 is alarmingly high: 29 such songs have been used in movies! And what is most significant is that while many of these are hits, we have not had even half as many original hits in the 11 months gone by.

Recreated songs are different from the now age-old remixes: an old song is given fresh tweaks with changes in lyrics, composition, arrangements and obviously vocals. With an 'anything goes' rule, songs are tailored to new situations and vice-versa, genders changed in the filming as in 'Saara Zamana' in Kaabil, rap and other features added, and what is very common is a complete disconnection between words and visuals!

The insidious beginning

Director Ananth Narayan Mahadevan experimented with 12 old R D Burman songs as the complete score of his 2002 Dil Vil Pyar Vyar (ironically, the title was derived from an iconic Laxmikant-Pyarelal (L-P) chartbuster), but perhaps the first true-blue example of a classic (!) 'recreation' came in Don (2006), the remake of the 1978 blockbuster Don. The cult Kalyanji-Anandji-Kishore-Kumar-hit 'Khaike Paan Banaras Wala' had some add-on passages and was sung by Udit Narayan.

In 2010, Pritam created an original tune that also blended in the mukhdas (main lines) of two old R D Burman numbers, 'Duniya Mein Logon Ko' (Apna Desh/1972) and 'Piya Tu' (Caravan/1971). In 2011, the L-P hit 'Main Jat Yamla' from the 1975 Pratiggya was rerecorded unchanged for Yamla Pagla Deewana, but rap was incorporated by rapper RDB. Another fresh composition that became a huge hit was 'Ooh La La' from The Dirty Picture, beautifully reworked from 'Ooee Amma' (Mawaali / 1983). In 2014, for the first time, a non-film Punjabi song, 'Samjhawan', was also recorded for Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania in the fresh voices of Shreya Ghoshal and Arijit Singh.

Tanishk Bagchi, who is the go-to guy for such songs, did not reply to repeated calls and messages for this story, and neither did Amaal Mallik. However, lyricist Kumaar, one of the busiest names in original songwriting and the favourite 're-creator' today, states, "I cannot sit in judgement for this trend. It is the call of the producer and director as such songs have recall value and hence get an 'auto-push' in popularity. There are times when there are better original songs in the same film, but they obviously do not stand the same chance."

The lyricist admits he is flowing with the trend but feels it will pass off soon. He adds, "As of now, most such songs are working well, which is why they are being created. I have no qualms about writing them as if I do not, someone else will."

The lyricist of brilliant original songs like 'Tu Bhoola Jise' (Airlift last year), however, feels extra-responsible when such songs come his way. "I cannot destroy the sanctity of the original writing. When I wrote additional lyrics for 'Saara Zamana' and 'Dil Kya Kare' in Kaabil, I treated them as new assignments and made sure the connected parts not only made sense but also did not disrespect the work Anjaan-saab and Anand Bakshi-saab did on the respective older songs from Yaarana and Julie. I also insist on due credits to the original creators in and outside the film."

Not all cases acknowledge the original creators, however, which is especially dangerous in view of upcoming generations that have never heard the originals. Another rampantly ridiculous tradition is of changing the billed name of the reworked song: 'Keh Doon Tumhein' from Deewaar, for example, became 'Socha Tha' (the first line of the original song's first antara) when reused in Baadshaho this year.

Tributes or just easy money?

Statistically, maximum recreations have been of composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal, R D Burman and lyricist Anand Bakshi, and the 70s and 80s remain favourite eras. But we have had recreations even from earlier times and as recent as from 2015-2016. T-Series, in their own productions, have made it a habit of having at least one recreation per movie, and film-makers Milan Luthria and Karan Johar have also had a fetish for such songs.

Purists are obviously offended by the callous audiovisual (re-)treatment meted out to loved classics, also pointing out the fact that, forget credits, the original creators are unlikely to even get compensation, which may be gobbled up by music companies that claim to have all-pervasive rights in a country with shoddy implementation of copyright laws.

They scoff at the idea that such offerings are "tributes" that also infuse new lease of life to classics, and infer that it is nothing but making second-hand money from someone else's creations that is the driving force in this anything-for-money-goes era. The songs are tried-and-tested, and the current generation is exposed to a better quality of lyrics and tunes that guarantee acceptance.

However, besides the convenience (like Judwaa 2's use of Judwaa's cult 'Oonchi Hai Building' and 'Tan Tana Tan Tan Tara' reworked, as the story itself was a reboot), the ingenious ways devised for reusing classics must be admired. Gourov-Roshin reworked Rajesh Roshan's above-mentioned classics in Kaabil, with Rajesh doing the remaining original songs. The song recreated in Golmaal Again ('Neend Churayi' from Ishq / 1997) was once again filmed on Ajay Devgn.

Segments of the original song are also technologically incorporated in a new song, as with 'O Meri Mehbooba' (Dharam-Veer in 1977) in Fukrey Returns, where Mohammed Rafi's voice is partly used for GenY actor Pulkit Samrat. Thanks to this, Bappi Lahiri and Anuradha Paudwal have sung for Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt in Badrinath Ki Dulhania!

Will this trend fizzle out like so many others as Kumaar has predicted? Not so soon, we feel, for the simple reason that recreations as a trend have opened up a complete Ali Baba's cave of limitless treasures that can be purloined freely!

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