People say there are songs that shouldn’t be touched, the classic hit numbers. And they are right, as Baaghi 2’s recently released Ek Do Teen featuring Jacqueline Fernandez proves. The recreated version is just another club number peppered with a voice that constantly asks the listeners to sing along, hinting at the sub-conscious fear of makers–‘What if the audience trolls our version?’ And yes, to aid the Spanish listeners, there’s also a chorus of ‘Un dos tres’.
The original track, composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal for the 1998 Tezaab, had the dance diva Madhuri Dixit gracefully taking over the stage and making it her own space, with moves that could barely be passed off as suggestive. However, in the new song, there are unnecessary shots of Jacqueline trying to be sexy whilst struggling to maintain a connection in some way to the Alka Yagnik song. It’s a pathetic attempt to spin money and woo the audience. What’s unfortunate is that very soon, very tragically, the YouTube views of the remastered track will reach a 100 million. Because people are curious, and maybe because the industry has nothing interesting to offer.
The trend of remixing old numbers is not new. But it has definitely seen a growth in the recent years. From Raees’ Laila Main Laila to Machine’s Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast, there’s hardly a track that does what it should be doing–being respectful to the golden hits.
The one disaster that is difficult to swallow is A R Rahman’s remixed version of Humma Humma. What was that? It had Badshah rapping, and ruining the upbeat vocals of Remo Fernandes, Suresh Peters & Swarnalatha. Featuring Shraddha Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur, the song was a part of the OK Jaanu soundtrack. OK Jaanu is a remake of Mani Ratnam’s Tamil hit, OK Kanmani. The new Humma Humma takes bits of Paranthu Sella Vaa from OK Kanmani and Humma Humma, thus destroying the remastered version completely. With its feet in two boats, it had no option but to drown in the deep waters of terrible music.
Rahman reportedly wasn’t on board with the idea of recreating Humma Humma for the Shaad Ali movie, but after Ali and the producers managed to convince the Oscar-winner of Badshah’s prowess to sprinkle his ‘magic’, he gave his nod to the song. Singer Remo Fernandes was not impressed with the new Humma Humma as he told Mid-day in an interview, “It is but a pale, insipid version of the original. Vocally, instrumentally and arrangement-wise, it seems to be a hurried, uninspired job”.
And then there’s the more recent Raid’s version of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Sanu Ek Pal. With lyrics by Manoj Muntashir, music by Tanishk Bagchi and vocals by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, the track sounds like just another Bollywood romantic number. The folky, raspy sound of Nusrat has been taken over by his nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The vocals aren’t imperfect, but they don’t do justice to Nusrat’s original either.
According to music composer Amit Trivedi–presently a judge of a show on Amazon called The Remix–musicians are forced by producers into remaking the classics.
“The pressure is only from the producers and the labels. No composer, no singer would ever want to sing a remix. I don’t know about others but I definitely know a lot of people, who don’t want to do someone else’s songs in films”, Trivedi had said in an interview with Indianexpress.com.
However, not all remixes are bad. Take, for instance, the crowdsourced version of Rahman’s Urvasi Urvasi from the Tamil movie Kadhalan. The song is a lesson in how to do things the right way if you are travelling the tired path of remixes. The lyrics sent by fans were politically loaded. There were references to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Demonetisation. But the number didn’t miss out on all the flirting and fun either. In this case, it was Rahman himself who had asked fans for their suggestions in order to rearrange the song.