Is Bollywood having too many remixes?


Is Bollywood having too many remixes?

Rejigging a classic oldie on screen to be in step with 'youthful' audience has become a trend - but it's probably not a very welcome one


Khalid Mohamed

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Published: Fri 7 Sep 2018, 12:30 AM

Last updated: Fri 14 Sep 2018, 9:12 AM

Surely, it must have taken nerves of steel for Sonakshi Sinha to step into the dancing shoes of the charismatic Helen for a remixed version of the classic song-and-dance rendering of Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu. The outcome, as showcased in Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi, was nothing short of a travesty, prompting me to close my eyes, ears and whatever's left of my senses.
Why on earth re-do the inventive composition from the black-and-white thriller Howrah Bridge - which, incidentally, was released exactly 60 years ago? So, here's putting forward a fervent plea: would today's Bollywood filmmakers and actors give up on the trend of tinkering with yesteryear's set-pieces?
Remixes have become excruciatingly painful to watch on screens. Indeed, when the very notion of retreads (add a thumping bass line and synthesiser effects, fiddle with the lyrics) had kicked off around the mid-1990s, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, whose Afreen was rejigged and re-played in a video featuring Lisa Ray, the master Sufi and qawwali singer had remarked stoically: "There is little I can do to stop music labels from commercialising my work so it can supposedly click with the youth market!"
On a similar note, Lata Mangeshkar had suggested politely that remixes, if they were a must, shouldn't mangle the originals out of shape. Asha Bhosle, who released a jazzed-up album of her songs with R.D. Burman, had said, cautiously, that as long as the essence of the early hit songs wasn't vulgarised, she didn't have issues with the rash of remixes.
In the same breath, she had justified the souped-up compilation of her songs by stating, "Let's not get too fussy about this, please! At least now there's a new generation of fans of R.D. Burman - who wasn't ever sufficiently valued during his own lifetime."
Veteran choreographer Saroj Khan has fumed that dance steps shouldn't be plagiarised, while choreographer-turned-filmmaker Farah Khan shrugged, "As they say, imitation is the best form of flattery."
Perhaps the current incorporation of a vintage chartbuster in a movie stems from the overall decline in the quality of B-town music. If there's at least one guaranteed crowd-pleaser from the past in a movie, that's more than likely to strike a connect with the audience. Moreover, such 'tributes' - quite an euphemism that! - are perfect for garnering publicity, besides traction on YouTube, which the campus crowd surfs regularly.
There's a lengthy laundry list of picturisations of remixed songs 'n' dances in the last couple of years. Take the instance of Sunny Leone striving to become the new Zeenat Aman, shimmying to Laila O Laila (Qurbani, 1980) in the company of Shah Rukh Khan in Raees (2017). The sequence turned out to be one of the livelier ones in a convoluted plot. As for any comparison between the sheer spontaneity of Ms Aman and the overwrought Ms Leone, let's not even go there.
Of the unarguable downers, I'd cite Tamma Tamma Again by Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt in Badrinath Ki Dulhania (2017) taking over from Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit in Thanedaar (1990). Not that the Varun-Alia moves weren't up to the mark - but it was quite obvious that the item number was foisted in probably as an afterthought.
Director dad David Dhawan and son Varun Dhawan re-did Lift Teri Bandh Hai in Judwaa 2 (2017), but it had to be ensured that the original Judwaa (1997) actor, Salman Khan, endorsed the over-top comedy and that his cameo was extensively publicised.
The Humma Humma song of Bombay (1995) was back in OK Jaanu (2017), Hawa Hawai from Mr India (1987) was reprised in Tumhari Sulu (2017), and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's ghazal Mere Rashke Qamar, from the '80s, was re-heated as a background piece for the heist flick Baadshaho (2017). Oh well, nothing's sacrosanct.
That should be sufficient evidence, I think, for Bollywood to get back on the original track. But can it? Pritam Chakraborty, considered the numero uno composer in Bollywood, is so busy that he can't deliver tracks in time till the filmmaker is reduced to a nervous wreck. A.R. Rahman has gone global. Rappers from Punjab and the UK enter and exit in rapid succession.
In fact, the trick to beat the shortage of music directors is to hire a variety of them for the same film. Hence the unevenness in the quality of a film's soundtrack nowadays. That's why the remix fever was on. After the hopelessly cheesy Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu, it has to end. Twinkle toes crossed.

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