Remixed tunes are all the rage but is this trend stifling originality in the Hindi film industry?
Bhakti Mehta, Suranjana Biswas
For the past two years, remixed old songs have been playing on a loop. Filmmakers have been asking music composers to give classic numbers a thorough dusting, add a beat or two and turn them into chartbusters.
And they’re killing it! All you have to do is listen to a couple of lines from the new and ‘improved’ Laila o Laila, Humma humma, Sara zamana, Tamma tamma and Hare Krishna Hare Ram to know why they are so addictive.
Laced with nostalgia and recreated to sound current and catchy, these numbers are firing the imagination of listeners. These peppy, chartbusting tracks are also being used by producers as a powerful promotional tool for new releases. The combination of excellent recall value and heart-pumping, foot-tapping beats makes for a great hook to draw movie-goers to cinemas. They have also been breaking the Internet with millions of views, a crucial requirement while marketing a film. For filmmakers, it’s all about the numbers.
Yet, even as everyone seems to be humming a remixed tune today, there are concerns surrounding the tendency of filmmakers to pick up a classic song and get an artiste to rehash it into a commercial tool for his or her movie.
The question remains: Is the Hindi film and music industry running out of originality and is the ‘remix trend’ here to stay? We spoke to some of the most popular artistes to get answers.
Singer and Composer
If this trend to remake old numbers sounds good, then it will continue. There is always room for good work. A good song helps any movie, both small and big budget, and a great song never fails to draw the audience’s attention to the movie. But the box office collections will always depend on the film, per se.
We are not lacking original content as far as Bollywood music goes. I think what we lack is exposure. There is so much happening on the music scene. Independent music needs more platforms to make it accessible to the public.
Remaking songs is an old trend and, by the way, it takes as much effort to recreate an old number as it does to create an original song. I believe this trend will continue because the audience likes and supports it. Music helps popularise it but let’s not forget that it is only a catalyst. It is the film’s content alone that makes a movie a hit, sometimes without it boasting of a single song.
This world is filled with amazing talent and we are never lacking in original content. For example, Baarish and Badrinath Ki Dulhania are my original tracks, while Tamma tamma and the Humma song were remakes and they are all equally popular. I believe that an honest approach to any kind of music makes it acceptable to the audience.
Who are we, as artistes, to decide? As long as people love them and good recreations are being made, why not? When people stop accepting remakes, producers will think of something else to use as a promotional tool.
Songs are a very effective promotional tool nowadays. When a song becomes a hit, the film associated with it gains tremendous recall value. Songs play a big role in boosting box office collections as good music attracts the audience to cinemas.
There is so much content out there, it is mind-boggling. There are many films releasing every week, there is independent music, there are music shows, and then the Internet. There is just so much happening and, in the midst of all that, recreations are making waves.
I find it difficult to understand why people are criticising remakes. I grew up listening to old classics, mainly because my parents exposed me to music like that. Not everyone grows up with such gems being an essential part of their childhood or even remotely heard inside the household.
A remake of a song is a great way to introduce new-age kids to the music of yesteryears, in an avatar that is new and perhaps more palatable to them, with digital and cleaner sounds. They can always check out the original if they connect with the rehashed version. What may otherwise have never been heard by them is suddenly commercially exposed to masses. Where’s the harm in continuing this trend?
Also, isn’t it all about the music? As long as there is good music, and remakes aren’t contaminating the essence and soul of the original composition, music should be able to touch people. The only requirement is that the remake accreditations should be correct and stay intact and, with due respect, composition credits should rightfully go to the original composer of the song.
I believe that songs are a separate entity from the movie itself. I understand how promotional tracks, which may or may not be in the film, are used. They are played aggressively as part of a film’s promotional campaign and used to attract the masses to watch a particular film. There were so many massive hit tracks and songs from movies that bombed after the film’s release. So there is no guarantee that promotional numbers will positively impact a film’s collections. They are mutually exclusive and are not directly correlated with box office collections. Even though they are artistically associated with the same product, they are actually two separate industries and entities.
There are composers who swear to never recreate a track and who rely only on their own compositions. Let’s not forget that creating a remake requires some amount of originality in terms of sound design and production. Many remakes have certain lines that have been retained and the rest of the composition has been altered or recomposed by the composer/ new composer. So it is not that original content is altogether missing. I think we need to concentrate more on just going with the flow and appreciating good music when we hear it – both original and remakes. To each their own.
I don’t think we can put a deadline on a trend like this. As long as people enjoy remakes, why not keep giving them what they love, especially when the essence of this trend is to pay tribute to the magic that was created in an earlier era?
Some composers have given us beautiful albums this year, amazing compositions that perhaps did not make it to a million-plus views. There is never a dearth of content, just an audience that is perhaps enjoying nostalgia right now. Having said that, let’s not dilute the creativity that lies in the production quality of a track, and I think Bollywood has done an amazing job with some remakes. We have some crazy mixes and mind-blowing producers.
A trend, by definition, is a phase, and remixing old tracks is nothing but a phase. People are dancing to these new beats and enjoying it. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Recreating old numbers is another way of introducing youngsters to old melodies, with a vibe that is familiar to them. As long as we can entertain, it’s just fine. Using remixed songs as promotional tracks helps promote a film because people relate to it, and music has always been a crucial part of Bollywood. It also helps boost a film’s collections.
I don’t think this trend reflects poverty of content. I believe we have brilliant composers who are creating great original songs. They are making different kinds of music, thanks to the opportunities the Internet has presented. I think the bar has, in fact, been raised by recreating old songs and original songs are competing with old numbers, cult classics. Every music director is working hard to give their best.
We should definitely continue with the remake trend in 2018. I have heard the remixed versions of Humma humma and Tamma tamma and they sound brilliant. Listening to recreated cult classics is like stepping into a time machine. And the songs sound contemporary too.
By remaking old numbers, we are not losing any original content. There are a lot of original songs being produced as we have a greater number of releases now than ever before. So when we bring back an old melody, it stands out. Remixed songs help market a film. They are an important part of filmmaking too as they strategically enhance the status of a film.
I cannot pass judgement on this as we work in a creative industry and everyone has the right to do what they believe is right. But, as an artiste, I do not connect with the idea of recreating old songs; it does not excite me. I had recreated Aye mere humsafar for the film All Is Well and I have never done it again. I think we have enough talent in this country to create original music and that process should be encouraged. The biggest hits in my career have been my original songs.
I feel it is high time this trend fades away. Composers today do not want to remix and recreate songs. Isn’t creating something new the whole point of having new composers? This year saw so many recreations that so many situations were wasted, where new blockbuster songs could have been written and used in their pace.
Recycling helps save our environment, but recycling films or songs certainly doesn’t! On the contrary, this trend of remixing or recreating songs is polluting our industry. As far as collections are concerned, films like Dangal and Baahubali did exceptionally well and they had original stories and music tailored to the respective films. They did not feature any recreations. Bollywood needs new content, not a version of everything that has already been heard or seen.
There are so many music professionals in the industry today that composers lose opportunities if they refuse to recreate songs or offer to create an original. So, those who rely on film music for their livelihood do almost everything they are asked to do, just to stay in the game. This is a vicious circle. Here’s something to think about… This year had the maximum number of recreated songs and the maximum number of box-office disasters!
I am not a big fan of songs being rehashed because I feel it takes away from new talent. In fact, I believe that this trend should be discontinued because we are trying to put life into something that is already living. I don’t think it is necessary and new songs can do really well. I also feel remakes can be done much better. I did a remake for a film called Friendship Unlimited and I didn’t enjoy it one bit. Hence, I hope that new songs and new talent are encouraged.
I don’t know how much remixed songs really help a film’s collections. Sure, they have recall value, so that’s half the job done as one doesn’t have to make people aware of a new track and get them to like it. Yet, if new songs are pitched correctly and given the right platforms, they can be huge hits. Old tracks are already popular and they shouldn’t be tweaked; they are forever anyway.
As far as original content is concerned, I guess there is a lot of it. I feel we are in the best phase of music-making because we have the best writers, composers, singers and equipment. Yet, the format of making music is the same. So we are in the best phase; it’s just that talent needs to be encouraged and bright people need to meet the right people. Everybody is trying to play safe, but I think we have reached saturation point and there will be a time when only new talent will flourish and we will have to work with new songs.
Manmeet Singh (Meet Bros)
Composer and Singer
Although people are enjoying old songs with a new touch, it is just a fad. I think it is silly to keep picking up old songs and recreating them just because people enjoy them. We believe in original content because that’s how we came into the spotlight. I hope the industry gets back to doing original music.
Anything that becomes popular helps promote a film. A rehashed song is an advertisement for a movie; people recognise a movie for the song. Songs stay with people for a long time and they have a longer life than movies do. Original content is the backbone of Bollywood and we are only in a phase where people are hooked to old numbers. Last year, all the songs that became hits were original tracks. There is always room for old songs but that doesn’t take away from original numbers.
I think the trend of remaking songs should be discontinued. We have overdone it. Thanks to this trend, new talent has suffered as those who are making original content are not getting a chance. However, it suits musicians because with old songs, the tune has already been composed. All that they do is alter it a little and come up with a recreated version. People also listen to these songs just to see how well they have been recreated. The youth listen to them because they have never heard them before. Not all these songs are hits, so not all of them help promote a film. I think original content will do better with proper backing. Old songs were original at one time.
We have been using remakes for a very long time. Today, again, filmmakers are reusing popular, old tunes as a marketing and promotional strategy. But, as a singer, I believe one should not reuse old songs too much in favour of our own, individual creativity.
But if you must remix a song, you should do it smartly. For example, the producers of Mohra wanted to use the hugely popular line, ‘Tu cheez badi hain mast mast’. The original song had been sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, so the song owners suggested that one use only the first line, which was recreated in Mohra. The song became super hit. In fact, I sang Tu cheez badi hain mast mast for Machine. It was a nice move to have kept the original voice.
Remaking songs is not a new trend. There was an era of remixes which was followed by rap and now recreation. The difference is that songs were remixed and recreated for the movies but only rarely. Now, almost every movie has a remixed song and sometimes, multiple recreations! In principle, I have nothing against remixing and reusing old songs as long as it is done beautifully and differently from the original. I suppose time will decide how long this trend will last and, till then, let’s enjoy the good remixes and ignore the bad ones.
You cannot remix a song and randomly insert it into a movie. Directors today are very aware of the situational value of a song. That’s why remixed versions of old songs are usually used as promotional numbers.
Everything has its own charm. I am not against recreations, provided they are done well. But original music is very important and should not suffer because of a trend. I am sure the audience enjoys remixed numbers but I am not sure that they help collections in any way. In the last two to three years, remixes have compromised the original music scene and that’s really very sad. Why be limited it by repeating something over and over again?
Song remakes have been the flavour of this season. I don’t have a problem with remakes of old songs. My problem is that original content is suffering because of the remake trend. Composers need to keep in mind that these are evergreen Bollywood songs, so the repackaged versions have to be extremely good. A song that was already a hit would have more recall value, so it’s easier to reproduce and market. We are just number/views obsessed! There are so many original numbers in recent times that have gained a lot of popularity. We aren’t lacking original content.