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When ‘Classics’ return to current charts

Time was when Himesh Reshammiya, in his acting debut film, Aap Kaa Surroor,  re-fashioned R.D. Burman’s 1975 ‘Mehbooba O Mehbooba’ from Sholay. And half a decade before that, Vishal-Shekhar re-created ‘Humein Tumse Pyar Kitna’ from R.D. Burman’s 1981 Kudrat in Jhankaar Beats.

The pace of life, changes in thought-processes and general look at re-creations has since been so rapid that today, we have a Himesh Reshammiya redux— of  his super-hit ‘Jhalak Dikhla Jaa’ from Aksar (2006) by re-creation ‘specialist’ Tanishk Bagchi in , and he has got Himesh himself to record it with add-on lyrics by original lyricist Sameer. For good measure, it is filmed on the original hero Emraan Hashmi!

And, in another reversal, Vishal-Shekhar have ‘O Saqi Saqi’ from their 2004 film Musafir resurfacing in Batla House also done by Bagchi (who earns millions from the classics created by others).

Of course, exceptions notwithstanding, most re-creations today have new lyrics fitting into new music that merge, generally fluidly, with the melody and words of the original. As Kumaar (who writes many such songs) mentions, that is the whole point of redoing such songs, and he ensures that the original creators do get prominent credits alongside, while, as he claims, the song is essentially new.

The credit and discredit

Maybe that is why, with the plethora of re-creations happening since the last three years in particular, the originals are not being properly credited. Today, film songs are even being re-created as non-film singles, and non-film hits, often of Punjabi or bhangra-pop, are also being recycled within movies. Luka Chhupi set a new dubious precedent: All five songs were reworks, four of them from non-film sources! The film song was Dilip Sen-Sameer Sen’s 1977 Aflatoon number ‘Poster Lagwa Do’!

With physical CDs out of fashion, it is left to music streaming platforms to give (or not give) due credit to the originals in prominent fashion. To the best of our knowledge, only Dharmendra and the Deol clan openly and very prominently credited Laxmikant-Pyarelal for the use of their re-created Pratiggya

song ‘Main Jat Yamla Pagla Deewana’ in Yamla Pagla Deewana by mentioning the duo and lyricist Anand Bakshi first in even the hoardings and other ads.

And that should be the degree of prominence given when the original creators are known (unlike, for example, when a version of traditional classics like ‘Raghupati Raghav Rajaram’ is re-recorded, where we do not know the creators). This norm is always followed in the West.

However, in India, while a classic, ‘Nakhrewali’ from New Delhi composed by Shankar-Jaikishan and written by Shailendra is re-used as it is in Mard ko Dard Nahin Hota, there is no easily seen credit line for a classic that has endured for over 60 years!

A fleeting mention in the rolling end-credits for legality sake is not what is needed—if the filmmakers think that this song can make a difference (which is why it was used in the first place!), then it is their duty to acknowledge its contribution to their creation. After all, isn’t this song a creation of legends too? Never mind if it was filmed ridiculously, like most such songs are.

Vocal degeneration

But the most reprehensible (aesthetically) part of such re-creations are not so much the frenzied beats and weird musical interludes and back-up added but the singing. The axiom seems to be the more gimmicky/nasal/supposedly erotic the better among female voices. On the male side, the gimmicky part applies as well, though the more high-pitched and Punjabi-inflected the better!

Sadly, it conveys the wrong idea of the original song to those who have not heard it, as a playback singer sings according to the situation but with technical and vocal finesse and a certain polish. Very few reduixes, thus, are done with respect and yet situational (or “item” sanctity). One rare example was ‘Shaher Ki Ladki’ (from Anand-Milind’s 1996 Rakshak) in Khandaani Shafakhaana. Anand-Milind’s second song with Raveena, ‘Ankhiyon Se Goli Maare’ (Dulhe Raja in 1998) will be heard now in Pati Patni Aur Woh.

A theoretically useful tool in some cases is using sentiment and a general connect with the older song: note the case mentioned of The Body above. Here too, Suniel Shetty and Raveena Tandon were brought in to add to and (on-screen) singers Badshah and Tulsi Kumar, and original singer Abhijeet’s portion was also used.

Quite the same happened when Nitin Mukesh re-rendered a part of his original portion in ‘So Gaya Yeh Jahaan’ (1988/Tezaab) in the version for Bypass Road, written and produced by his elder son Neil Nitin Mukesh (also its hero) and directed by younger progeny Naman Mukesh. With the music done with great respect to the core of the original chartbuster by Raaj Ashoo, it did create some initial buzz for the film due to this Laxmikant-Pyarelal-Javed Akhtar creation.

…And so, the legends took over!

This year, Laxmikant-Pyarelal in particular and the legends in general seemed to rule the charts, and originals from the same film outclassing the re-creations in popularity were rare. L-P, who actually ruled Hindi film music from 1969 to 1993 (as Numero Unos as per the trade) also were the creators of the original of ‘Haiya Ho’(Marjaavaan), which was ‘Chahe Meri Jaan Tu Le Le’ (Dayavan / 1988), ‘Bhoot Raja’ (Housefull 4) from the song of the same name in Chacha Bhatija (1977) and ‘Tera Bimar

’ (from the 1989 ‘Tera Beemaar Mera Dil’ (Chaalbaaz / 1989) as well. Their fifth song to come this year was ‘Paisa’ (Total Dhamaal) from ‘Paisa Yeh Paisa’ (Karz/ 1980). 

R.D. Burman had a second but unknown redux of ‘Hamein Tumse Pyar Kitna’ as the title-track of an obscure film that came this year, Hume Tumse Pyar Kitna. His 1994 classic ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha’ (from 1942—A Love Story) was not only re-created but used as the entire title for the Vidhu Vinod Chopra film on a homosexual love affair between two girls. And we do not know why two male singers had to sing this song when it was a story of two girls!

And Vishal-Shekhar went back to the re-creating board to re-do (and main) the 1972 R.D. Burman classic, ‘Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani’ (Jawani Diwani / 1972) as “The Jawani song”!)

Kalyanji-Anandji (‘Pyar Lo Pyar Do’ from their 1986 Janbaaz, redone earlier by Pritam in Thank You), appeared as ‘Ek Toh Kum Zindagani’ in Marjaavaan), Rajesh Roshan (‘Mungda’ from Inkaar in 1977 came in Total Dhamaal) and Bappi Lahiri (whose ‘Dil Mein Ho Tum’ from the 1987 Satyamev Jayate appeared in the non-starter Why Cheat India) were the other stalwarts whose songs were paid such ‘tributes’ and who ruled the charts!

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