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Every time T-series or Tanishk Bagchi releases a new song, there’s a collective gasp online with the standard rant: “Oh no, not another remix… again!”, or the more abrasive, “Another classic song murdered”. Some classic artists also tend to use the opportunity (opportunities, considering the number of times a remix surfaces—resurfaces—amidst us these days) to exclaim, ‘these days creativity is totally dead that they have to resort to reusing our classic melodies and kill them’.

Most recently, all these opinions were remixed (ironically, even opinions are being remixed these days!) in different words for the remix of “Urvashi”, a splashy remix of A.R.Rahman’s Kaadhalan/Humse Hai Muqabala number by Yo Yo Honey Singh, aided generously by T-series’ expensive music video featuring Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani.

Here’s the original:

Remixes are generally, and fashionably, called a ‘crisis of creativity’. Ironically, these demonstrations of creative crisis rake up unbelievably large numbers on streaming music sites. Consider the following examples:

Dekhte Dekhte, Rochak Kohli’s remix of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s classic ‘Bewafa Ho Gaye’, for the film Batti Gul Meter Chalu, sung by Atif Aslam, has 84 million plays in one version on YouTube, 34 million plays for the lyrical video and another 1.2 million for the full audio version. It’s not on YouTube alone – it also has 13.8 million plays on Saavn.

Urvashi already has 27 million plays on YouTube. It has only about 70,000+ plays on Saavn, but, to be fair, it was released just a few days ago.

Or take another example – Sirf Tum‘s Dilbar Dilbar that was recently remixed by the current king of remixes, Tanishk Bagchi, for Satyameva Jayate (the film). The first version uploaded by T-series has 199 million plays on YouTube. The next version uploaded by T-series, a lyrical video at that, has raked in even more views, at 265 million! The 3rd full song version has 43 million views!

For some inexplicable reason, remixes (or recreations, as they are respectably called sometimes) garner a LOT of interest, ironically almost inversely proportional to the hate they amass. In my personal view, I find many remixes to be a noisy melange of sounds, but I also do like a lot of them. Like Tanishk’s remixes from Baadshaho (Mere Rashke Qamar and Socha Hai, remixed respectively from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Mere Rashke Qamar and R.D.Burman’s Kehdoon Tumhe) or Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya‘s Tamma Tamma.

The early, clunky signs of remixes in Indian film music were called ‘Jhankaar Beats’ and they died a painful death after a brief period of success in the 90s. But T-series learned from that short-lived trend, spruced up the marketing of the names behind the remixes (Jhankaar Beats were usually uncredited; marketed solely by the fact they were Jhankar Beats variants) like Tanishk Bagchi or Amaal Malik (his Ghar Se Nikalte Hi remix got 70 million plays on YouTube and 9.5 million plays on Saavn) and package them considerably better using flashy music videos.

When you consider the fact that some of the remixes that are so very popular with the current younger generation are about songs that are at least 1-2 generations before theirs, you can’t even argue that the labels are trying to cash on the older song’s popularity.

For example, A.R.Rahman’s Bombay was in 1995! OK Jaanu‘s Humma Humma remix was in late-2016/ early-2017. For someone born in the early 2000s and is in the ‘youth’ now gorging on Humma Humma’s remix, the original is literally before their birth, a vestige of a previous era. It gets far worse for the older songs, depending on whose ‘older’ you consider.

For the mega numbers they rake up, remixes do introduce an older song to the newer generation, albeit in a different form. If the current generation was mature and patient enough to discover (or rediscover) the old classics on their own in their original (pristine?) versions, they would have done so, given the easy availability of music with just a simple search online. But it is also a fact that much of the remixes open a fresh portal of interest in the originals as you can see from the YouTube comments with the format, “Who came here after <name of remix>?”.

Hence, it may help not to be completely and sweepingly dismissive of remixes or recreations, and look at them on a case-to-case basis. Some of them are good, and some are understandably bad, but that mix is very similar to original music too. But they do go beyond helping music labels rake up a massive number of plays and views online, and acting as marketing tools to promote a lot of films. And that is the introduction of an earlier era of music to a new generation of listeners. The route of such introduction may seem questionable to purists, but it is also serving that purpose indirectly, whether they like it or not.

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