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Last Updated 14.10.2019 | 10:50 PM IST
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Veteran musicians react to recreation of old chartbusters

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Katrina Kaif and Sidharth Malhotra for new director Nitya Mehra’s Baar Baar Dekho are being favoured in clubs and at weddings. It’s a re-mastered version of Amar Arshi’s Bhangra pop hit ‘Tenu kala chashma jajtave‘, which was composed by Kam Dhillon and released in 2005. To this hip-swinging and mellow-ish number, Badshah has added more insistent beats, a rap interlude and vocals by Neha Kakkar. Why are we constantly re-mixing old numbers? Bollywood’s most distinguished musicians react.

Lata Mangeshkar: “I think it is principally incorrect for singers to give voice to others’ songs. Let me recall an incident for you. There was a time when I’d sing a lot on stage. I was once asked to sing a song by Suraiya. I refused. The organizers argued that I’d do full justice to the song. But according to me a Suraiya song was a Suraiya song in public’s mind. To eliminate the original is a very difficult task. Once someone asked my opinion on a song of mine that another singer had sung. I said, “Dekho main unees hoon aur woh bees hai. Lekin mein apni jagah pe unees hi rahungi, who nahin ho sakti. One of my tracks ‘Thoda resham lagta hai‘ composed by Bappi Lahiri for the film Jyoti made it into a track by the American rap band Truth Hurts. Quite frankly, I didn’t remember this number at all. When I heard it in the number by Truth Hurts, I asked my family where it was from. It was they who told me that I had sung it in a film called Jyoti. I had no idea who ‘Truth Hurts’ was. Since Jyoti stars Hema Malini , who’s one of my favourite actresses, I made it a point to watch Jyoti when it came on television. But I didn’t pay much attention to the song ‘Thoda resham lagta hai‘ when it came on. I didn’t mind it being used in the American song because Truth Hurts hasn’t tampered with my voice or the composition in any way. It’s far more preferable to the remixes in our country.”

Amit Kumar: “From the day remix songs and even cover versions of popular songs started I immediately said to myself, ‘The downfall of Hindi film music has begun.’ Whether it is a renewal of the original’s shelf-life or a sign of desecration, I don’t know. All I know is, Hindi film music is finished. I’ve heard some remixes of my father (Kishore Kumar)’s songs which made me shiver.”

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Asha Bhosle: “The world has moved on. Earlier the female singer sang at a high pitch and the male singer at a low pitch. Now that has been reversed. There’s no time for slow, soft, sentimental songs. No point in clinging to the past and pining for nostalgia. If you remember, happy occasions whether it is the mehndiceremony or a wedding, they have always been celebrated with songs. Every individual wants to dance and sing. Rhythm ka zamana hai. No one listens to the words. You can’t stop the world from moving on. If you try you’ll get left behind. It’s not as if we don’t have talented singers. Sukhvinder Singh is inviolable. I am open to singing any kind of songs as long as the words are not cheap. People at my age are confined to retirement. I am still singing. The language isn’t of primary importance as long as I sing something that I and my fans are satisfied with. I’ve done two albums of his remixes. When I did Rahul & I, I wanted to be faithful to the original. But my son Anand, who’s a big fan of Burman Saab and who looks after all my interests, told me to just leave it to him. I surrendered to him. He designed it according to today’s tastes. And he was right. The album was a resounding success. No one can stop others from doing remixes. People are forever cashing in musical names. You’ll see big posters of Lata Didi and mine at concerts. They turn out to be shows of our songs sung by other sings. CDs have our big pictures and small ones of the actual singers. Music and musicians have suffered heavy losses because of these deceptive imitations. But what to do? Duniya aisi hi hai. You can’t fight it. But please, if you doing remixes, do be thoughtful towards the original. I didn’t tamper with one note, one lyric… no changes at all. Only the instruments have been modernized. As for the cynics, they’re bound to have their say. When some years earlier, I did my songs of R.D. Burman in the album, Rahul & I, I was criticized even by those who were my admirers. But I remember a four-year-old boy at a restaurant coming up to me to sing, ‘Piya tu ab to aaja‘. I was so happy that a new generation would be familiarized with RD’s tunes.”

Adnan Sami: “Remixes are nice when done with an ear on nostalgia. But sometimes they are just attempts to cash in on iconic songs. I wouldn’t want to do a remix of a ‘Bahon mein chale aao‘ or ‘Lag ja gale se‘ because Lataji has taken the songs to the pinnacle of perfection. You can’t take them any further.”

Shankar Mahadevan: “It all depends how one does it without destroying the aesthetics of the original composition. On the plus side, these classics are made accessible to younger generations who have probably never heard these songs. But due credit must be given to the original composer. Sometimes these remixes are embarrassing to listen to. But all said and done there is nothing to beat the high of composing an original song.”

Lalit Pandit: “An alarming number of songs are being re-recorded and reshaped with modern programming and also a lot of modulation in style of singing is also being done. I wonder why! Firstly, the older song is already popular and heard by generations of people and since there is familiarity with the tune, what is the point of remixing the song. Why would we want to hear Lataji’s ‘La ja gale se‘ or Ashaji’s ‘Dum maro dum‘ in any other voice? Producers, directors are desperately looking to have a hit in their films. This is an easier way to achieve success. Secondly, it’s easier for composing for a composer because then there is nothing to compose, except rehash the already composed song. It saves a lot of trouble and hard work for both, composer and producer/director. I wouldn’t say that composers today are not capable .It’s just that directors get desperate and sometimes don’t even know what they want. It’s at this stage that an old song rehash option is worked on.”

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Talat Aziz: “The creative juices of today’s composers are drying up .The environment created is of something fast and ready to go so this is what happens. Producers or production houses do not have the war or vision for music. They want a rehash of familiar melodies to save them time and money and also since they cannot understand music it doesn’t make any difference to them and to the film also. In the golden era, the writer, composer and the producer, director used to collaborate and after a point it was left to the discretion of the writer and the music director to create – Delegating this responsibility in capable hands – Confidence in their professional ability to deliver…Not so anymore.”

Prasoon Joshi: “This is the era of instant gratification and very short attention span, the already familiar requires less efforts from the creator as well as the listener.”

Anand Raj Anand: “There was time when producers, directors used to have mehfils with composers, writers to inspire them. Nowadays the jamming is more with computer and the internet rather than human beings .Creativity is now a click away. I think production houses are responsible. Music composers are always ready to give their best. But producers sometimes insist on cannibalizing old hits.”

Kavita Krishnamoorthy: “Probably these remix types have heard the first part of the proverb, familiar melodies are the sweetest. Jokes apart, the songs remixed are proven hits. Maybe they hope that the song will be noticed again and one hopes to attract attention and success through this.”

More Pages: Baar Baar Dekho Box Office Collection , Baar Baar Dekho Movie Review

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