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Why Hindi cinema needs to stop its obsession with remixing classics 

Only two months into 2017 and the industry has been flooding the airwaves with remixes of classics from OK Jaanu's 'Humma Humma' to Raees' 'Laila' in an attempt to woo the masses, and play on the nostalgia factor.

Shriram Iyengar

Every time composers decide to remix an old song, it erupts into a controversy. The fascination with classic tunes and the desire to remake them into something more current has always existed among music composers in the industry. However, the rate at which they are churning out remixes in 2017 is astounding. Two months into the year, and the industry has already seen about five remixes of old classics, and more to come. 

Remixing songs has become the latest fad in the music industry. In 2016, with songs like 'Maahi Ve' and 'Dil Ke Paas' from Wajah Tum Ho, the superhit 'Kala Chashma' from Baar Baar Dekho (2016), the remixes were coming through. But now, just two months into 2017, listeners have seen have seen six remixes make their way to the airwaves. From OK Jaanu's 'The Humma Song' to Sunny Leone's sizzling 'Laila Main Laila', the trend has just started. 

Although there is no illusion of complete originality in Hindi film music, even legends like RD Burman and Bappi Lahiri claim to have picked tunes from original songs, the development is startling. While Burman, or Lahiri, would add new tones, rhythms, and even instruments to the original tune to make it radically different, the new spate of songs seem to be augmented by a simple effective verbal tool — rap. 

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Take OK Jaanu's 'The Humma Song' for instance. On its release, there was a growing negative view on social media on the audacity of the film's makers to remodel a cult classic. While the song is certainly catchy, it lacks the punch that made the original so popular. In addition, Badshah's rap in the middle of the song did not go down too well with the traditionalists. 


The most popular songs, though, continue to come from the decade of 1970s and the 1980s. Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan's clash at the box office began much before their films released in theatres. Both films had remakes of original tracks from the 1970s. While Raees had Sunny Leone swinging to a remake of Kalyanji Anandji's hit 'Laila' from Qurbani (1980), Kaabil had two remakes. Kaabil had a remade version of 'Saara Zamaana' from the 1981 Amitabh Bachchan-starrer, Yaarana, and another upgraded version of 'Dil Kya Kare' from Julie (1975). 


With Badrinath Ki Dulhania's latest remake of the Madhuri Dixit-Sanjay Dutt hit 'Tamma Tamma Loge', the practice of remixing has only gone further into the 1990s. In fact, Saroj Khan, the choreographer of the original song had said, "You know I feel proud of my time that at least they are admitting that they are not capable of making such songs again. So we are one up." This is not a one-off statement. In a recent interview with Cinestaan.com, lyricist Javed Akhtar had said, "It is an admittance of incompetence by music directors that we are not capable of creating songs of this calibre."

While the purists argue against this growing trend, it shows no signs of slowing down. The songs are only getting newer by decades. While 'Dil Kya Kare' and 'Saara Zamaana' were in the 1970-1980s, 'Humma Humma' and 'Tamma Tamma Loge' belong to the 1990s. It gets even better. Vidyut Jammval's upcoming Commando 2 has 'Hare Krishna Hare Ram' that borrows from both, the 'Dum Maaro Dum' song from Hare Krishna Hare Ram (1971), and the Akshay Kumar-starrer Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007). 

Remixing songs have come a long way from being a launchpad for new singers and composers trying to make a break in the industry, to becoming the bread and butter of the current film scene. However, the quality and versatility of these remixes don't seem to match up to the originals. Other than 'Laila' few songs managed to make it as chartbusters. 

The primary reason for creating a remix is to upgrade an old classic for modern tastes. However, if listeners return and remember the old classic better than its new version, the purpose of the remix is lost. As we revel in the impressive hit remix of 'Tamma Tamma Loge' from Badrinath Ki Dulhania, it is important to remember that it is an aberration. In the world of Hindi film music, let the classics stay unadulterated.