The remix trend in Bollywood is like the ongoing pandemic. You think the worst has passed, but you don’t know if you are in the beginning, or middle, or end. We had complained about remixes in 2016, then in 18, and last time I checked we are still complaining (after a horrid remix of “Saawan Mein Lag Gayi Aag” from Kiara Advani starrer Indoo Ki Jawani dropped last week). It has come to a point where it’s almost inaccurate to call it a trend because it’s not a trend, it’s a living reality.
You are not the Target Audience
And the reality is that we—me, you, and all those commenters on YouTube who ask why music companies do remixes even though nobody seems to like them—don’t matter to music labels. Most of us don’t even constitute the TG. The smartphone boom and high-speed internet, that was gaining momentum in the first half of the last decade, had expanded the reach of Hindi film songs to non-urban parts of India and low-income demographics. The free internet on Reliance Jio that came 3 years ago and lower cost phones have boosted that expansion in unbelievable ways. A young, National-award winning composer, off the record, had told me that, as per his own research, if earlier the listener base in India was 6 crores, now it’s 32. That should explain the 863,647,189 hits for “Dilbar Dilbar” from Satyameva Jayate.
Remixes come cheap
It’s not as if they asked for the remixes—although to say anything about an India, of which we know little, is presumptuous at best. Rather it is the music companies who take this section of the audience for the ‘lowest common denominator’ and serve them the cheapest, laziest product possible. And by cheap I don’t mean distasteful but the cost of production. Remixes allow music companies to rehash a song they already own, in the shortest time possible, and with guaranteed profits.
Why fix something that’s not broken? Unless you are here to make art, and not money. Remixes are low maintenance, and high profit (YouTube views, music streaming services, licenses given to Television channels and so on). Add to that that they are also supposed to fetch big opening numbers for the films—even though having a remix in your film is hardly a short-cut to box office success, as a large number of flops would vouch for.
Doesn’t matter if the remixes have nothing to do with the content of the films themselves. That ship has sailed on us long ago. Remixes are easy targets, just the tip of the iceberg of a larger malaise. But actually they are as good or bad as any Punjabi song with fast beats and inane lyrics—the other dominant type of song being the sentimental male-centric ballad. All of this has been allowed to happen because songs have lost their centrality in Hindi films. Most of the directors and writers don’t need them so much to tell their stories. So they let the marketing departments take charge. And when business people take over…