Bhushan Kumar’s T-Series is on it again, with another remix of a 90s Bollywood song. But at least, they’re self-aware enough to begin with Simmba’s producer, Karan Johar, bemoaning a trend of ‘Oh God! One more remix’. Ranveer Singh flaunting his 46-inch chest a la Bajirao Singham, Sara Ali Khan showing off that toned midriff, bikes doing wheelies (in typical Rohit Shetty fashion) and around a million back-up dancers wearing clothes my journalist’s salary can never afford. All this, but still they couldn’t capture the playful vibe of the original song featuring Arshad Warsi and Simran from 1996’s Tere Mere Sapne.
Did I say playful?
Like most songs those days, it was shot on a road with colour co-ordinated backup dancers dressed as kaali peeli cab drivers. The song starts off with the ‘hero’ serenading his sulking ‘love interest’. Actually, that sentence doesn’t quite sum up the ‘spirit’ of the song. Arshad Warsi, like every 1990s hero ever, starts the song by harassing the heroine.
The original song is exhibit A in how Bollywood normalised creepy behaviour during the 1990s. Behaviour that endorsed stalking, groping, mental harassment, molesting and god knows what. Completely blindsided by the concept of ‘consent’, the song perpetuated Bollywood’s popular notion that a girl resisting your advances, was only showing nakhre.
The song situation has not aged well, but hey, everyone from Aamir Khan (Khambe jaisi khadi hai), Akshay Kumar (Khudko Kya samajhti hai) and Saif Ali Khan (Neela Dupatta) were being adored for relentless creep behaviour. But isn’t Bollywood more woke now?
Then why this ‘remix’ in 2018? And what’s more disturbing is that it pretends to pay a tribute to the original, to conceal its own lack of original ideas. In spite of Ranveer Singh’s limitless charisma in old-school Bollywood routines, he can’t even come close to a fun-to-watch Arshad Warsi acing those steps during the intermittent ‘hee ho haa’s.
It might be a good day to revisit the original song from Tere Mere Sapne. Especially, looking at how films in 2018 are still fixated with the past in the name of ‘throwbacks’. The song belongs to a simpler time, less infested with such blatant greed to cash in on nostalgia. Simmba is the kind of film that exists solely to re-configure the ‘hit’ elements of a previous enterprise and make some quick cash off it. Even if it is a problematic song from 1996.