Yesterday once more

Remixed melody
Last Updated 30 March 2013, 16:35 IST

In Bollywood, the rage for remakes and remixes is not something new. rajiv vijayakar wonders if filmmakers are trying to pay tribute to the past, or if there is a dearth of original ideas.

Says Sajid Khan, “I would have never used Nainon mein sapna in my version of Himmatwala had Amit Kumar refused to sing the song.” While remakes (Don, Victoria No. 203, Karzzzz) offer a ready excuse for re-creating hit songs from those originals, it is usually the filmmaker’s fetish for retro that is the driving force — after all, the same filmmaker had used the Laawaris song Aapka kya hoga (with some lyrical and musical modifications as per the situation) in his Housefull.

Dharmendra could not use the original Mohammed Rafi hit from his own 1975 home production Pratiggya due to legal issues for his film Yamla Pagla Deewana / 2011 and had to re-record it with Sonu Nigam. However, in a refreshingly ethical move, he not only credited original composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal and lyricist Anand Bakshi on the hoardings and albums but gave them top billing too.

Today, the quantum of re-used songs has increased and the only change is that with Copyright Amendment Act passed last year, due credits and compensations have to be paid to the original owners (lyricists, composers and producers), not just to music companies.

Apart from Himmatwala, the latest films like I Me Aur Main (Na jaane kahaan se aayi hai from Chaalbaaz / 1989), Nautanki Saala! (So gaya yeh jahaan from Tezaab / 1988 and Dhak dhak karne lagaa from Beta / 1992) and I Love New Year (Aaja meri jaan from Aaja Meri Jaan / 1993) all acknowledge the original creators.

And why should this not be? The power of the older compositions and their lyrics is indeed very potent. Not only are retro and nostalgia in fashion, but with originality at a premium today, such songs will always be an easy guarantee of a hit. As Anu Malik puts it, “My generation of composers was much maligned, but we never re-mixed or re-created old numbers to sell our albums.”

The younger generation wants to blend their ‘contemporary (read culturally-confused) sensibilities’ with a modern India that, except in metros, is rooted yet aware that ‘modern’ and ‘melodious’ need not be antonyms. The trick really lies in shrouding a lack of originality under the shallow veneer of a tribute. But there are exceptions to the rule.

Looking back

The oldest form of tributes to yesteryear hits were the parody songs, which began in the 1930s itself, but really caught on from the 1960s and were last heard in Lamhe (1991). Here the tunes were retained and fresh — usually comic-lyrics written. In Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), the tribute took the form of an on-screen antakshari.

In 2002, director Ananth Mahadevan used 12 songs of R D Burman as the entire score of his film Dil Vil Pyar Vyar. However, the experiment did not work.

In 2003, self-confessed RD fan Sujoy Kahaani Ghosh recorded the RD-Kishore hit Hamein tumse pyar kitna (Kudrat / 1981) for Jhankaar Beats with Amit Kumar.

As film music became influenced by global trends, 2004 saw Jatin-Lalit re-recording the 1973 Bobby hit Main shaayar toh nahin with the original singer for Yash Chopra’s Hum Tum and filmed on Bobby hero Rishi Kapoor as his entry in the film as a middle-aged, romantic character.

Rishi unleashed a temporary view of nostalgia — in Pyaar Mein Twist (2005) he danced to his Khel Khel Mein hit Khullam khulla... In 2007, his son Ranbir Kapoor recited Main shaayar toh nahin in his debut film Saawariya, while in 2008, Rishi’s song Bachna ae haseeno from the 1977 Hum Kisise Kum Naheen became the new Yash Raj film’s title song, filmed on his son Ranbir, and sung by original singer Kishore Kumar’s son Sumeet Kumar.

This started a trend of spawning film titles from old songs that were also re-created (originally seen in another Yash Raj film Laaga Chunari Mein Daag in 2007) and Aa Dekhen Zara, Yamla Pagla Deewana and Dum Maaro Dum followed. In most cases, to give them their due, the titles fitted the new stories.

Innovative copies

Rohan Sippy has turned this trend into a fine art. In Bluffmaster! he integrated parts of Mehmood’s original rendition of Basu-Manohari’s Sabse Bada Rupaiya title track in a new version by a fresh singer. The original vocals of S D Burman’s Tadbir si bigdi hui from Baazi (1951) and Rajesh Roshan’s title song from Do Aur Do Paanch were also re-mixed with up-tempo music in the same film.

In Dum Maaro Dum, the old Hare Rama Hare Krishna song was sung afresh with add-on lyrics, while in Nautanki Saala! the song So gaya yeh jahaan is set to a faster beat with some new music, retaining the original voice of Nitin Mukesh, and the duet Dhak dhak is sung by a new female singer with a chorus singing the male portions.

In a piquant paradox, innovation became the name of the ‘copying’ game over the years. Pritam mixed two R D Burman compositions intelligently to create the largely original composition Parda parda in Milan Luthria’s Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai. Luthria’s sequel to this film sees Pritam working on Parda hai parda from Amar Akbar Anthony, while his The Dirty Picture saw Vishal-Shekhar rehash Bappi Lahiri’s Ooee amma from Mawaali into Ooh la la, which proved more popular than the original!

The use of cult musical riffs (Dhan te nan from Kaminey is derived from the prelude of Haaye haaye yeh majboori from Roti Kapada Aur Makaan) and vocal hooks (Oye oye from Tridev in Double Dhamaal) are some of the other ways in which older songs are ‘reborn’. From the rest, the re-treatment can be anything from interesting (Laila o Laila from Qurbani in Chalo Dilli) to inane (Pyar lo pyar do from Janbaaz in Thank You) or insipid (Babuji dheere chalna from Aar Paar in Salaam-E-Ishq).

As for the placement of the songs and their filming, once again it can be anything from imaginative (as in The Dirty Picture) to horrifyingly irrelevant and irreverent (like Hawa Hawaii from Mr India and Khoya khoya chand from Kala Bazar, both used in Shaitan).
Old, in short, is not only gold, but also sold.

(Published 30 March 2013, 16:35 IST)

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