Remixing new Bollywood tunes

Ruk Ruk from Kajol-starrer Helicopter Eela is ruling airwaves currently. It’s the remake of the song by the same name from the1994 blockbuster, Vijaypath. Before this, Dilbar from Satyameva Jayate that originally featured in Sirf Tum (1999), Tamma Tamma Again (Badrinath Ki Dulhania, 2017) was from Thanedar (1990), and The Humma Song (OK Jaanu, 2017) from Bombay (1995), were among the many others. While remixes or remakes have been around for a few decades, what’s new is that producers and composers are looking at relatively newer songs to repackage and release. It’s no longer tracks from the black-and-white era or the ’60s. In fact, new numbers such as Aashiq Banaya Aapne from Hate Story 4 this year is from the 2005 flick and Raabta from Agent Vinod (2012) took just about five years to be remade as a track for the Kriti Sanon-Sushant Singh Rajput-starrer Raabta (2017).

Also, like Raghav Sachar, who has remade Ruk Ruk, reminds us, in the mid-’90s, it was the non-film Indipop genre that churned out remixes. Whether it was Kaanta Laga by DJ Doll, Bally Sagoo’s Chura Liya or Instant Karma’s Baahon Mein Chale Aao or many more. Now, it has percolated into Bollywood. Most artistes or composers will tell you that the refurbished versions are a way to reintroduce old gems of music to the gen-now in a style they would relate to. However, there are more reasons why newer Hindi songs are being reinterpreted.

 Raabta reboot (2017); A still from Raabta in Agent Vinod (2012); (inset) Nikhita Gandhi

Quick Response From Listeners

Raghav attributes this trend to the fact that music today is short-term. Record labels or production houses want their song to get into the listener’s system quickly to get an instant response. “Any track takes that much time for promotions and to be on air for it to be noticed by listeners. If a song is already known, it will take that much less time to grow on someone. The melody or lyrics are still the same, after all,” he explains. He adds that since it’s a 100-metre sprint that producers are interested in for quick success rather than a long run, recreating songs that are already hit makes sense to them.

Catering To Two Generations

It’s part familiarity and part nostalgia that’s making the generation that grew up on these numbers lap up the recreations. As far as youngsters are concerned, they get new music. “It’s a good formula for success because you get both the generations to tune in. These songs are turned into dance numbers and more tech-driven to pander to the youth,” Raghav elaborates. Like Nikhita Gandhi, who sang the new Raabta, opines, “When you hear something familiar, the connect will obviously be there. There is comfort in something that you already know. That works in the favour of remakes.”

Pure Economics

Most songs that are being remade were big hits when they released, whether it was Tip Tip Barsa Paani (Mohra, 1994), Humma Humma, Tamma Tamma or Dilbar. So, the rehashed ones are likely to work, too. Nikhita says, “I think it’s a pure economics plus demand and supply thing. Listeners loved the track once and made it a hit, so one could expect it again,” she reasons. Raghav concurs, “Everyone — producers and record labels — is putting in money and wants the music to be successful.”

Remakes Of Newer Songs Accepted More Easily

More often than not, a melody from the 50s or the 60s being recreated is not welcomed with open arms, which is not the case with newer reboots in most cases. Tanishk Bagchi, the composer of Tu Cheez Badi (Machine, 2017 and original from Mohra), The Hamma Song, Dilbar, Kudiyaan Shehar Diya (Poster Boys), agrees, “After you’ve listened to a track in a certain way for years, it kind of becomes a part of you. And when you tweak it even a little bit, it becomes difficult to accept. There is an advantage revisiting new songs and they are accepted better.” Also, the newer generation accepts change more readily, which is an added advantage, he adds.

The Flip Side

Even if it ensures success, according to Raghav, it’s not a trend that Bollywood should be congratulating itself for because the industry is regurgitating music and only jazzing it up to make it palatable. “When we will look back after 20 to 30 years, we will realise that original music was made only till 2010. I’m being approached for more remixes than originals,” he says. In his opinion, since financiers and producers call the shots even in creative departments, commercials are given more importance than artistry. “And audiences have always accepted what they are offered without questioning,” he emphasises. He states that most composers, like him, would rather make original tunes than remakes. Tanishk, too, says, “The choice of a song is rarely mine. As a composer, I’m usually given a track and asked to recreate.” Both the composers and Nikhita reiterate that it’s keeping the essence of the original intact that’s the key.