Bollywood’s remake raja

In spotlight: Tanishk Baghchi at a studio in Andheri  

Music director Tanishk Bagchi’s discography includes remade 61 old songs since the beginning of 2017. Most are part of movie soundtracks, and most have been awful rehashes without any creativity. From ‘Aankh Maarey’ in Simmba to ‘O Saki Saki' in Batla House to ‘Chamma Chamma’ in Fraud Saiyan, he hasn't spared any hummable from the past.

Commercially viable

Bagchi has been associated with 44 films since January 2017, which on paper makes him the most prolific composer today, after being an unknown in 2016. What’s surprising is that though he's not come up with any original work worth writing about, he has had some hits and still gets regular assignments. His forthcoming projects include Sooryavanshi, Satyamev Jayate 2 and Dostana 2, and all five songs announced are remakes.

Interestingly, while he has been dismissed as just another hack, the criticism has never been very harsh. Filmmakers seem to love him. Perhaps that will change after ‘Masakali 2.0’, a shoddy remake of a song originally composed by A.R. Rahman and sung by Mohit Chauhan in the 2009 film Delhi-6. It may be recalled that in 2017, Bagchi collaborated with singer-composer Badshah to remake Rahman’s ‘Humma Humma’ for the film OK Jaanu.

Significantly the new ‘Masakali’ version, sung by Tulsi Kumar and Sachet Tandon, has been lambasted by Rahman himself. Joining the senior composer in expressing their displeasure, are the song’s lyricist Prasoon Joshi, singer Chauhan and the film’s director Rakesh Omprakash Mehra. To rub salt into the wound, actor Siddharth Malhotra, who is in the ‘Masakali 2.0’ music video, has agreed that the criticism is valid.

Speaking up

Two questions arise. One is why it has it taken over 60 remakes for Bagchi to get a proper dressing down, and why people had to wait for someone like Rahman to speak up. The other is whether this can lead to a long-term solution to the ever-increasing problem of unbearable remakes.

By keeping quiet so long, the industry has actually let Bagchi cash in on something thats easy to execute and thus allowed him get away with it. Though the reaction to his remakes has been negative, the only reason the music director has continued, besides the fact that he makes quick money, is that somebody (read filmmakers) has been backing him. In that sense, the monster has been created by the industry itself.

That brings us to the broader subject of remakes. Though there are others who do it on a smaller scale – Vishal-Shekhar remade ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’, ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Diwani’ and ‘Ghungroo’, while warning others not to touch their songs - Bagchi has made it a habit. As a friend joked, one wouldn't be surprised if even the Beatles discography would end up with a few Bagchi remakes.

Now that Rahman has come out against a remake of his song, it's left for others to protest against the trend more aggressively. For his part, it’s time even Bagchi realises enough is enough. Though it’s impossible for him to erase the reputation of being a remake raja, he should make an effort in producing some worthy original stuff in future.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 12:13:28 AM |

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