Humma Humma to Oonchi Hai Building: What 2017's remixes tell us about the year's Bollywood music

Where is Bollywood's music for the soul?

There are a few diseases plaguing Bollywood music. But the biggest of them all, as we saw repeatedly in 2017, is this need to recycle hit songs from the past. It’s not a 2017 phenomenon for sure, but this is the year when the audience noticed it all too well and was exasperated by it. And that’s because many iconic songs from the 80s and 90s were destroyed this year.

ALSO READ: Think Raga: Humma Humma singer Shashaa Tirupati defends remixes, says kids discover ‘cool songs’

Starting the year with Ok Jaanu’s Humma Humma, the signs were ominous. Fresh from his hugely successful remix of Kaala Chashma (for Baar Baar Dekho), rapper Baadshah took on the ambitious task to ‘remix’ AR Rahman’s iconic song from 1995. Here’s the thing – the original song was already so ahead of its time, and the programming was on-point that it still stood the test of time in early 2017. The year when the remix was supposed to come out. Turning it into a minimalistic synth-heavy song with an ENTIRELY UNNECESSARY rap verse, no one was surprised to find out how Rahman fans reacted to the song’s new avatar.

In the successive months came, Tamma Tamma in Badrinath Ki Dulhania and *hold your breath* Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast in the little-known movie, Machine. Bappi Lahiri’s original song was recalled for its tacky 80s nostalgia, and the way the Varun Dhawan-starrer tried to cash in on it was totally off-putting. Not everything can be made better just by adding a quicker beat to it.

Oh, don’t even get me started on how the Burmawala brothers destroyed the mother of all item numbers, by picturising it on the no-good Mustafa Burmawala. Where was the whole nepotism debate, when we needed it to ban this song?

Irrfan was all too clever about selling his film Hindi Medium, by including Sukhbir’s party anthem Ishq Tera Tadpave. The song obviously has recall value, for the many times you’ve played it at 2am and danced to it. After 3 pegs, of course. But the question here is not whether the revamped version (which doesn’t sound that much different) is as good as the original.

The question is, whether the musicians and the music companies are so close to creative bankruptcy that they have to bring back these songs for a bonafide ‘hit’ instead of composing a new tune?

The abomination that was David Dhawan’s Judwaa 2 only extended further to the film’s soundtrack. Remaking the exact same film in foreign locales, meant the makers wouldn’t even ‘dare’ to experiment with the music. They repackaged the original film’s 2 biggest hits like – Oonchi Hai Building and Chalti Hai Kya 9 se 12. Probably that rare instance, when Anu Malik had a higher ground in matters of ‘plagiarism’, ‘inspiration’ and ‘remixes’.

Even the well-made Tumhari Sulu, which had the very hummable Bann Ja Tu Meri Rani couldn’t resist the trend and HAD TO remix Hawaa Hawaai to capture the free-spirited ambition of the film’s protagonist.

It’s been an alarmingly bad year for original Hindi film music. Apart from Vishal Bhardwaj’s Rangoon, an understated Monsoon Shootout soundtrack and a few flashes in the pan for Pritam with Jagga Jasoos and Jab Harry Met Sejal, there isn’t a lot of memorable music from 2017. With only a week left, it’s really sad that we have to finish off on Vishal Shekhar’s obnoxiously Bhai-pleasing note in Tiger Zinda Hai. We only seem to be catering to popular tastes to manufacture ‘chartbusters’. Where is Bollywood’s music for the soul?