"The first aspect that strikes me about the current epidemic of reworkings of classic songs is that it is yet another sign of the herd mentality of producers. If a horror film is a hit, everyone wants to make one more. If 'Munni Badnaam Hui' becomes a rage, it sets a trend too. They all want to cash in as it becomes a Vicks Formula 44 syndrome that looks at shortcuts to success. Such time-tested classics, they feel, are sure shot means of selling the music because the songs have stood the test of time.
However, of the 10 or more such songs I have heard, seven have been bad or worse. I liked the way 'Bachna Ae Haseeno' was done in the film of that name, where the essence of the original was maintained and some of the old song's portions were also included. The Housefull song from Laawaris, creatively speaking, was not bad. And Yamla Pagla Deewana was well-done indeed. But Thank You's 'Pyar Lo Pyar Do' and Dum Maaro Dum's version of the 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' track are so badly done that the essence of the original classics has been lost.
And what do I mean by essence? It means that the song should be good enough to sing and not have gimmicks that disturb the flow of the tune or the words. Like some of the DJs do a really tremendous job of remixes.
But to me, more than the creative aspects, the most obnoxious part of the trend is that due credits are not given! This means that anyone can remove the name of M.F. Husain from one of his paintings and call it his own, or steal someone else's book and claim authorship! In this matter, I salute the makers of Yamla... for boldly crediting Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Anand Bakshi in the film's credits as well as in the albums. The film Chalo Dilli's album on Eros Music also has a prominent credit for Kalyanji-Anandji and Indeewar for 'Laila O Laila'. But in most cases, this does not happen and only the music company is given acknowledgement. Kalyanji-Anandji ka naam tak nahin hai in both Housefull and Thank You!
And this is what has to be addressed immediately by the music directors and lyricists! Everyone should condemn this practice, including producers. Very often, the music companies' agreements with a filmmaker have expired, but simply because no one has challenged them, they still sell rights that do not belong to them! When someone releases album without the original music label's name it is termed piracy. So why is it not piracy when the original creators are neither credited nor compensated with due royalties? In a landmark case recently, Timbaland the rap artiste won a case against an Indian music label. But we are still keeping quiet!
It was in the mid-'90s that I too had got into remixes. I regret that today, but we must remember that the awareness of the laws regarding copyrights has come only in the last seven or eight years and we were completely ignorant and never realised what we were doing and which rights belonged to us!
We finally come to the matter of moral rights. The moral right of a creator never really goes away even if he is compensated and credited, but this tends to be individual-specific as well. There are people who insist that their approval must be taken and there are others who are happy with the due credit and royalties even if their creation is distorted. In today's day and age when there are no clear-cut parameters, anyone can have creative license to do whatever they want with a classic creation, and, after all, a good song will bring profit to them and a bad song will not. But the least that should be done are respecting and honouring the original creators and giving them their dues. After all, the creators are emotionally attached to their creations and get upset if they are distorted. For those reworking them, it's only about money."
As told by Raju Singh
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