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Mixed Masala

Twisting old melodies is all the rage among filmmakers today but is it really luring movie-goers to cinemas?

Remixing old Hindi and Punjabi songs is proving to be a cash cow for filmmakers looking to milk an old hit number for their films, ahead of their release. From switching up tunes to changing lyrics, they are finding ingenious ways to rework the old classics.

A R Rahman’s iconic Humma humma was recently recreated for Dharma Productions’ Ok Jaanu featuring Aditya Roy Kapur and Sharddha Kapoor. Punjabi superhit song Kala chashma made its entry to the Hindi film lover’s heart when Katrina Kaif sizzled on the screen with the song in the film Baar Baar Dekho.

Laila main laila, originally from the 1980 film Qurbani featuring Zeenat Aman, was recreated for Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees and featured Sunny Leone. Sanjay Gupta’s Kaabil featuring Hrithik Roshan too had a recreated version of the iconic song Haseeno ka deewana.

Dharma Productions recreated Tamma tamma for Badrinath Ki Dulhania and earlier had Punjabi songs Saturday Saturday and Main tenu samjhawan in the film Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania. Both films featured Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt.

Tweaking an old classic can definitely give a fresh perspective, and if the song complements the film and matches new trends, it could be a winning formula.

This week, we’re talking about old Hindi and Punjabi songs being remixed for new films. How helpful is this in terms of marketing a film and luring movie-goers to cinemas? Let’s find out what the experts have to say:

A R Rahman, Music Director

It’s not a trend; it’s a vacuum. I don’t think there is anything wrong in using short-cuts. I think it was good that Humma humma was introduced to the new generation.

Bappi Lahiri, Singer

First, old is gold. Every song I have composed has been a hit and even if recreated, again and again, they will remain hits. My song in Golmaal 3, I am a disco dancer, was a hit. Even the film did good business and now Tamma tamma is also a big success. The song has been picturised very well and Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt have made it even better. Not all recreated songs do well but I can assure you that my songs never fail. Recently, Naam Shabana also used one of my songs, Zubi zubi. All these recreated songs are good but old is gold.

Udit Narayan, Singer

The trend of recreating songs is both good as well as bad. It is good because it is nice to know that people still love to listen to old songs in a new, remixed and modern version. The bad thing is that it is stifling originality. All the old era songs are being remade and used in every film and it is 100-per cent used for marketing. They are using a few verses or a hook line and mixing that with modern music. This creates some curiosity among the audience. They think that since this song was popular in the old days, we should go and watch the film and have fun. But we need to make some original songs. Remakes are all very well if a director desperately wants it but if every movie has recreated songs, their charm will fade. And where is your originality? All the credit goes to the singers and musicians of the original songs.

Kumaar, Lyricist

Lately, every film is using recreated songs. The advantage is that these songs draw movie-goers to cinemas and are therefore used to market the film. It’s purely marketing strategy. The disadvantage applies to artistes, whose potential is suppressed because of these songs. We have the ability to make new and original songs. If you read the comments attached to recreated songs, they are always, like, ‘Yeh song chori kiya’, ‘yeh gaana bhi kharab kiya’. Even if we give our best, people still compare the song to the old version. I think this trend should stop as soon as possible.

Divya Khosla Kumar, Director

Today’s generation has not had the good fortune of enjoying the classics as they were way before their time and falls into the category of retro music. Rehashing and remixing these classics to suit the music preferences of today’s generation is a good idea, to make them aware of earlier times and why the classics are called the classics.

As far as contributing to a film’s opening is concerned, it’s not only one song but a combination of the star cast, script, trailer and overall feel of the film that influences the opening numbers. A remix is merely icing on the cake. Classic songs such as Humma humma and Haseeno ka deewana will always be classics and nobody can change that. What we do is try to recreate them to present them to the younger audience so that they can appreciate what we did back in the day.

Manoj Muntashir, Lyricist

For every new song that releases, music labels have loads of money at stake. We can’t blame them for using new tactics to churn out profits. Recreated songs are a new and desperate measure aimed at attracting audiences not only to the songs but eventually to cinemas. So far, it has brought good results, but only for the labels. Artistes, especially music directors and lyricists, are reduced to low level fabricators. The dignity of their profession has suffered a major blow. If you are not expected to compose a song, but only to redesign its sound, what is the difference between a composer and a DJ? I have written super hit recreations like Pyar manga hai, and Dillagi, which have created records on YouTube, but that has hardly helped my career and stature as a lyricist.

The bottom line is, recreations are seasonal flavour which will die as the wind changes direction. Just wait for another album like Aashiqui 2 or Ek Villain… original songs will be back with a bang. Composers and lyricists are hopeful that they will ride on their own glory instead of using old vehicles to survive. Also, barring a couple of them, most recreations are unfair to the original creators.

Vivek Krishnani, MD, Sony Pictures Entertainment, India

Classics and chartbusters are remixed as there is huge audience appeal associated with these tracks. Since songs are a strong marketing tool, the familiarity helps connect with the audience and creates a desire to watch the film.  Of late, there’s been an influx of mediocrity while creating remixes. There are far too many of them but too few that have turned out to be memorable while the rest end up ruining the classic. So while it is an enticing idea to recreate the magic of yore through a popular song, we ought to be extremely careful about how we create it and present it. It’s a novel idea and should be used smartly in the film’s campaign. If the melody is recreated creatively, shot beautifully and choreographed well, it will always capture hearts.

Rudrarup Datta, Senior Vice President – Marketing, Viacom18 Motion Pictures

The power of a good tune to build recall on a film is undisputed. Hence, using a tried and tested hit tune which also instantly connects is a logical and effective idea. But it is important to select a song that suits the theme of the film so that it adds to the film. If it’s a random selection, then the song will be a hit but it will not impact the box-office performance of the movie as much.

 

Rahul Puri, MD, Mukta Arts

There is a relatability for old songs that intrigues the audience. This has become the norm in films these days, where old songs are remixed and people are interested to see how they have been reimagined. It would be presumptuous to suggest that this is the only reason people come to watch a film as these songs are viewable for the most part as marketing hooks across media but these hooks can bring a film into the spotlight and mindspace of the audience, who can then see more, as in a trailer or teaser, and decide whether they want to watch the film or not. The strategy has not always worked. The quality of the remix can also drive away audiences or put them off if it’s not good.

  

Prernaa Arora, Producer

Old Hindi and Punjabi songs are already classics and super hits. So when they are remixed to suit new times, the earlier spark is rekindled and the audience feels an instant connection to the songs. They immediately try to connect the new version with the old version, which is good. That definitely brings in the audience and keeps their interest alive in watching the film.

Amaal Malik, Music Composer and Singer

According to me, there is no harm in recreating songs but they should be justified in the film. Some songs are not made well and that’s where we go wrong. That’s why the audience thinks old songs do not need new flavor. When a remix is made well, the audience can relate to it.

Murli Chhatwani, MD, Muviwale Entertainment

Personally, I loved the old Hindi songs and so I don’t mind listening to them in remixed versions, with the current lot of actors performing on them. If these songs are remixed properly and handled with care without spoiling the charm of the old version, they will work. If a song doesn’t go with the story and is unnecessarily inserted into the film just to increase the buzz around the film, it should not be tampered with.

As a movie buff and as a distributor, I don’t mind old songs being remixed as it helps reel in the audience but one needs an equally good trailer that showcases the high standards and quality content of the film. All these films that have remixed old songs have garnered good buzz and thus an opening is guaranteed because of these songs.

Devang Sampat, Director, India Strategic Initiatives, Cinepolis

Marketing is key to a film’s success and one of the keystone’s of marketing is songs. India is young and a majority of the movie-going crowd was born in the ’80s. If a song reminds them of their teenage years, it has great recall value and is great marketing strategy to use remixed versions of old songs. This helps bring movie-goers to multiplexes for the first weekend. Eventually, content works.

Amit Sharma, MD, Miraj Group

Yes, there has been a trend in recent times where movies are reproducing old Hindi and Punjabi songs such as Saturday Saturday and Main tenu samjhawan in the film Humpty Sharma Ki DulhaniaTamma tamma in the film Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Humma humma in Ok Jaanu,among others.  In my opinion, this is nothing but marketing strategy, where movies try to create a buzz by rearranging old hits songs to attract a larger audience and to promote them on television, on music channels, radio and online platforms.

However, I doubt this strategy really works as it cannot guarantee wider movie viewership even if it succeeds in creating a buzz for the movie. For instance, the songs Humma humma and Kala chashma from the movies Ok Jaanu and Baar Baar Dekho were very popular but the movies that featured them did not manage good numbers at the box office.

Tinku Singh, Group President & Chief Strategy Officer

 India is a land of vivid culture, where songs and dance sequences have always been a great source of entertainment for viewers. Currently, the flavor is all about retro and with songs like TammatammaLaila main laila and so on, the audience is grooving to these tunes every day. Such songs heighten the charm of a movie, and with their pulsating beats, they are ‘old wine in a new bottle’. They are also a great marketing element, with promoters using them as a special attraction as they promise to increase footfalls in movie halls.

Rajender Singh, VP – Programming & Distribution, Inox Leisure

Music plays very a important role in films and good music always helps a film open with good numbers. Remixing old super hit songs for a new film helps create hype for a film and therefore in marketing the film. Kaala chashma, Laila mein laila, Tamma tamma, Saturday Saturday, Main tenu samajhawan etc., are a few examples of remixed songs which ensured good openings for their respective films.

Thomas D’Souza, Programming Head, PVR Cinemas

The remixed versions of old songs help in the promotion of films if it is done well. Lest we forget, the aural way is the best way to an Indian cine-goers wallet. The song used in the promotion of Tanu Weds Manu became extremely popular, but did not feature in the film. Similarly, with Jabra fan from the film Fan. We had patrons coming up to us with complaints that we had skipped the song to save time; hence we must either screen it or refund the ticket money! These songs help as a hook for the audience (Kala chashmaLaila main laila), or they keep the film in conversation (Humma humma, Haseeno ka deewana) and ensure a good opening day (Roy), at the very least.

PS Ramanathan, Rajshri Productions

It all depends on the situation. When a song does not suit the situation in a film, the older version gets much more appreciation. Not all recreated versions work and those that do are the ones that are justified in the films or are picturised nicely, according to the story. When this happens the song creates curiosity among the audience and they are more likely to watch the film.

Sharang Chandak, Distributor, CP

The purpose of recreated songs is to build curiosity among the audience. Since the audience is already aware of the old song, they quickly relate to the new version and that is why it is used to market films. Lately, Tamma tamma from Badrinath Ki Dulhania was a super hit and it was promoted well. Madhuri Dixit had promoted this song with Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan. People will watch the film initially because of the song.

 

Rajesh Thadani, Distributor, Mumbai

To some extent, recreated versions of the classics attract the audience to watch the film. However, if this trend continues, and recreated songs are used in almost every movie, then the charm of such songs will fade. The song should help the film and fit in with the story. Only then will it click with the audience.

 

Sunil Bansal, Distributor, Rajasthan

Old tunes make you happier than recreated ones. I believe the audience gets attracted to recreated songs only if they are narrated well in the movie. They are largely used for publicity, to build curiosity among the audience. That curiosity brings movie-goers to cinemas but in the end the content of the film is all that matters.

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