With songs like Dheere Dheere Se, Aye Mere Humsafar and Is Kadar Pyaar Hai being revisited by today's generation of music composers the natural question arises about how far this recycling can go
Time travel may not be a reality just yet, but with several Hindi film tracks being revisited in a big way and being ‘reinterpreted’ or ‘reinvented’, there is a sense of been-there done-that. The late 90s were infamous for its remixes of old songs, but today’s adaptations of hits are much more than just plain covers or versions. Much work goes into making a beloved song a contemporary hit and it’s working — that’s the general sentiment.
Somewhere, over the years, as old tracks gave way to new ones on playlists, the magic or joy of listening to that track one loved, was lost or forgotten. Then there’s the hashtag generation who are all about the latest, freshest and newest. They’re a growing market/ audience and one that cannot be ignored. In a socially networked world, being seen and noticed is all that matters.
One then sees it as something of a challenge and a risk to go digging around for old songs to rework and make new. But music labels are doing it because it works. Bhushan Kumar, CMD, T-Series, says, “With the way audiences have accepted the kind of songs, it’s a great time to recreate the old tracks with a modern touch to it. It’s the era where old songs with a changed tune and revised lyrics are working wonders. As for marketing, these songs are already in everyone’s playlist but we have to market the newer versions and turn them into people’s favourites.”
Sanujeet Bhujabal, Marketing Director, Sony Music India agrees. “There are a lot of instances in which old songs, whether of International or Indian repertoire, have seen a new surge of life after being placed in a new movie.”
Tried and tested
By some accounts, the popularity and success of revisited tracks started off with composer Chirantan Bhatt’s take on Har Kisi Ko Nahi Milta for Boss. He plays it down and says, “I don’t know ifI started it, but the song was very popular and the biggest compliments I’ve got are where lot of people have told me they don’t remember the original or that they liked my version better.”
Ask him what the driving factor is behind this phenomenon and he says, “What is happening now, is that music companies are trying to make money out of their catalogues of already popular songs, which are tried and tested. You take something that’s already there and recreate it with additions, you are guaranteed an audience — one kind that has heard it before and wants to see it in a different light and one that hasn’t seen or heard it at all.
Either way, like it or not, viewership is there, so you are guaranteed a certain level of success. That being said, it has to be either as good or better than the original. So, that’s a lot of responsibility. The way it was produced has to change. Changing lyrics is very subjective. If it works, you don’t need to.”
If approached to do more such tracks, would he? “I would. Why not? I’d love to, but I’d be careful about how I’d do it,” he says. He remembers when Har Kisi Ko came out. The first few comments were mixed responses but the positivity just grew and grew. People now call it a benchmark!” he laughs.
Carry on, indefinitely
Mikey McCleary is a name that’s become almost synonymous with this trend. His music, under the moniker The Bartender is a real treat to listen to. He is singlehandedly keeping Bollywood music’s golden era (the 50s-70s) alive with his several tracks. His B Seventy, a tribute to Amitabh Bachchan was also much loved. As someone who knows what he’s talking about as he has been doing it for a while, he says, “I can imagine that it is something that will carry on indefinitely. All one needs is the right situation in the right film.”
That, and he says, is the right approach to such a song. We ask him how he developed his. “Most songs of that era tended to be romantic or jazz. I try to keep it in that space and use live instruments like trumpets and saxophones because I prefer that it be live and organic, rather than add electronic elements which takes away from the soul of such songs. You rework it in a fresh way and you make a new generation realise that these songs are timeless.”
Like a bridge
The Meet Bros (Manmeet and Harmeet) believe that producers approach them for such tracks because they feel that their music has today’s vibe, something that work around a sing-along line. “But because we’re composing it as our version, we change the melody a bit, write new words around it. The 90s are our retro, something the millenials (those born in the late 90s and 00s) missed out on. These were very good melodies,” says Manmeet. “It’s like a bridge. Very few people today listen to old Bollywood songs, everybody moves to the latest songs,” says Harmeet.
Is the trend here to stay? Says Manmeet, “I feel it will stay because it depends on how well a song can be cracked. The music director has to get it right, the song has to sounds new and fresh despite having the lovely melody of the 90s. But that being said, if it’s good, it will be loved. Making an original song (because of the expectations) is easier than revisiting a song.”
Ask them if they’d do it again and Harmeet says, “We’re already recreating two tracks. One is for R Balki’s Ki and Ka and the other is for Vivek Agnihotri’s Junooniyat, both are party songs and we feel both will work.”
Arko Pravo says he did Aaj Phir... (Hate Story 2) “as an experiment”. How he adapted that track was thus. He shares, “I told the label that I would only use the first two lines (the mukhda) and that I would change the rest and asked them if they were cool with it. I’m not a DJ, I cannot remix. We went ahead and did it and it did really well — in the Top 5 for 30 weeks. They asked me work on some more remakes and I was offered a number of such songs after that, but I really liked Iss Qadar. I went with Ankit Tiwari for my version. Ask him if the trend is here to stay and he avers, “Everybody does covers and versions. So why not? I think it’s totally cool. Besides, these days, the original credits and added credits are all clearly mentioned. Everybody realises it is just like a tribute.”
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