This is an era where every fifth film has a ‘re-created’ version of an older song (the recent Wajah Tum Ho had three of the four compositions sourced from older tracks). The re-creations are spilling out of our ears in the past decade and more and have been almost unanimously panned by music lovers and makers for mutilating the older classics and trying to destroy their memories.
So, it will be perhaps interesting to find out which were the ‘re-created’ numbers we have heard in Hindi cinema from olden times to today’s movies that they did not destroy the core of the original. And, in many cases, actually went beyond the earlier songs—not just in popularity but also in quality. Thanks to the reach of Internet, even the originals are available online.
‘Aaina mujhse meri pehli si mohabbat’ (Daddy) composed by Rajesh Roshan and written by Suraj Sanim was a cleverly inspired version of the Pakistani film song ‘Mujhse pehli si mohabbat mere mehboob na maang’ from Qaidi in 1957. This was Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry set to music and sung by Noorjehan, undivided India’s musically richest migrant to Pakistan after Partition. The lyrics were rewritten for the new situation—the new song has become so huge that playback singer-ghazal singer Talat Aziz has to sing it at every live concert.
‘Agar tum mil jaao’ (Zeher) was another adaptation from Pakistan by Mahesh Bhatt for one of his films. Anu Malik cleverly tweaked the original mukhda to make it more intense and pathos-laden and added tiny nuances to the antara to make it more melodious. He was helped by the sensibilities of director Mohit Suri and lyricist Sayeed Quadri, the latter adapting a few lines from the original 1974 film Imandar song sung by Tassawar Khanum, written by Tasleem Fazli and composed by Nashad. Shreya Ghoshal’s magnificent singing completed this musical coup.
‘Ankhiyon ko rehne de’ (Bobby) was, according to Reshma, lifted without permission by Raj Kapoor and Laxmikant-Pyarelal in the 1973 blockbuster from her song ‘Ankhiya nu rehn de’, whose Punjabi lyrics she had also written. Lyricist Anand Bakshi and L-P treated the song with reverence, converting it caressingly into Hindi with fresh and situational antaras, giving it an ultra-melodious prelude and placing the L-P-Bakshi stamp all over it, with Lata Mangeshkar’s magnificent rendition as the crowning glory.
‘Don’t phunk with my heart’ comes in here though it is not from a Hindi film. The song, which blends two Kalyanji-Anandji-Indeewar film cabaret numbers sung by Asha Bhosle as its main body, was recorded by the Black rap group, The Black-Eyed Peas, with official credit given to K-A and the lyricist. When the song picked up the 2005 Grammy, Anandji was even felicitated abroad as Kalyanji and Indeewar were no longer alive. The songs were ‘Yeh mera dil’ (Don/ 1978) and ‘Ae naujawan hai sab kuch yahaan’ (Apradh/ 1972)!
‘Ek chatur naar’ from Padosan (1968) was Kishore Kumar’s second tribute to his elder brother Ashok Kumar’s Jhoola (1941). The song was a part of a small scene and was not used in that film’s LP record. It was probably still written by Pradeep and composed by Saraswati Devi. Kishore hit upon the idea of an extended version of the song. Aided by lyricist Rajendra Krishan and composer R.D. Burman, with Manna Dey and Mehmood pitching in with him, he made the latter song a cult classic.
‘Koi humdum na raha’ from Jhumroo (1961) was Kishore’s first take-off on a song sung by his brother. It was based on a song from the latter’s debut Jeevan Naiya (1936), written by J.S. Kashyap and composed by Saraswati Devi again. The earlier version was raw, spontaneous and a shade raag-oriented, the latter, set to a different beat, had poignant overtones enough to have the listener moved to tears. Kishore composed the music and Shailendra’s poetry was spot-on, as always.
‘Main jat yamla pagla deewana’ (Pratigya) inspired the Deols to title their whacky 2011 comedy as Yamla Pagla Deewana. Dharmendra even wanted a redux of the original Mohammed Rafi song set to new music by RDB. Reportedly copyright issues came in the way, with the original 1975 film having music on SaReGaMa and the new one on T-Series. The song was thus vocally redone by Sonu Nigam, who stuck as close as possible to Rafi, with Anand Bakshi’s lyrics retained. That the Deols respected the cult song composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal also led to L-P and Bakshi getting top credits on posters and CDs—a first for a re-creation.
‘Na kajare ki dhaar’ (Mohra) was an updated version of a Kalyanji-Anandji Mukesh-Lata Mangeshkar duet recorded for a film in the 1970s that was shelved. Viju Shah, Kalyanji’s son and Anandji’s nephew, made the song faster-paced, orchestrated it in a trendy manner, and got it recorded for the 1994 film in the voices of Pankaj Udhas and Sadhana Sargam.
‘Ooh la la’ (The Dirty Picture) remains the most ingenious of the songs reconstructed from and thus truly ‘inspired’ by an older hit. Vishal-Shekhar and Rajat Aroraa tweaked the Bappi Lahiri-Indeewar-Kishore Kumar-Asha Bhosle hit ‘Ooee amma ooee amma’ from Mawaali (1983) and actually got Bappi himself to sing it with Shreya Ghoshal.
‘Yashomati maiyya se’ (Satyam Shivam Sundaram) was Raj Kapoor’s open tribute to a song from one of his earliest films, Gopinath (1948). Sung by Meena Kapoor and Ninu Majumdar (also the composer), the Surdas poem was in the same tenor, but the new song was freshly rewritten by veteran Pt. Narendra Sharma. There was very little difference in the tune, but, for Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s addition of situational nuances.
‘Vande Mataram’ (Anand Math) Hemant Kumar made his debut as a composer in this 1952 film, and got Lata Mangeshkar (and himself) to render a rousing version of Bankim Chandra Chaterjee’s national song. To date, this is the most replayed version, ahead of the original!