As Neha Kakkar gets trolled, a look at song remakes that surpassed originals

Getting a remake right is tough. If it fails to live up to the benchmark of the original, it is bound to irk fans. But if done right, it can breathe life into the song’s old existence and make it relevant for the present generation.

Deepansh Duggal September 26, 2022 13:58:23 IST
As Neha Kakkar gets trolled, a look at song remakes that surpassed originals

Neha Kakkar

‘God’s favourite child’ Neha Kakkar has irked Garba Queen Falguni Pathak with a remake of her iconic hit Maine Payal Hai Chhankai. Kakkar and Pathak spent the weekend before Navratri trading barbs on social media. At one point, Pathak hinted at taking legal action against Kakkar and went as far as saying ‘Mujhe bas ulti aani baaki thi’ (I came close to puking). Meanwhile, Neha posted multiple stories on Instagram implying that Pathak was jealous of her success and fame. Pathak and Kakkar’s fans are embroiled in a war of words on social media. There has also been a promo of Indian Idol where Pathak and Kakkar are seen sharing the stage for a Navratri special episode of the singing reality show. The promo has now sparked an outrage from fans who are accusing Kakkar and Pathak of feuding for publicity.

The legal nitty-gritties prohibit Falguni from taking legal action against Kakkar because she doesn’t own the rights of the song. However, loyal fans of Pathak, whose name has become synonymous with Garba and Navratri, are now accusing Kakkar of ruining their childhood memories by remaking the song. Kakkar has earlier faced flak from fans for making a remix of Sunidhi Chauhan’s O Saki Saki from Musafir (2004) and Alka Yagnik’s Dilbar from Sirf Tum (1999). Kakkar’s infamous track record of remaking old songs and butchering them in the process is common in the industry. Music composer Tanishk Bagchi is also infamous for the same. He has earlier massacred AR Rahman’s soulful Masakali from Delhi 6 and Humma Humma from Bombay (1995).

Getting a remake right is tough. If it fails to live up to the benchmark of the original, it is bound to irk fans. But if done right, it can breathe life into the song’s old existence and make it relevant for the present generation.

Remakes And Creative Bankruptcy

A common perception is that Indians are not very accepting of remakes and fresh renditions of old hits – which is not true at all. Think remixes from early 2000s – Kaliyon Ka Chaman starring Meghna Naidu, Pardesiya which features Rakhi Sawant playing secretary in a corporate setting or Kaanta Laga which showed Shefali Jariwala dancing in a club – all of these remixes took the radio stations and music channels like MTV by storm in 2000s. The remixes in the 2000s revived the 80s and 90s Bollywood hits and gave them a modern touch. The songs were groovy, fun and not overproduced like Kakkar’s and Bagchi’s remakes. They didn’t offend our parents’ generation because they retained the simplicity and earnestness of the original song. Why else is DJ Aqeel’s remix of Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle’s Kehdoon Tumhe is looked back on so fondly by the millennials even today?

The 2000s remakes familiarized 90s kids with the classics of Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar in a way that is young, cool and hip. It is almost like telling an old tale in a way that is more suited to the modern syntax. While Kakkar and Bagchi channel all their creativity at making the songs young and hip by using auto tunes, catchy hooks and quirky dance steps, they fail to do justice to the original in terms of singing.

It Pays To Be Authentic

It is also rather alarming that Kakkar and Bagchi are only making old hits and barely coming up with original compositions with fresh lyrics. One cannot help but wonder if Bagchi and Kakkar are creatively bankrupt and lack originality or perhaps, the confidence to win over the audience of their own merit. Perhaps, this is why 2000s remixes worked well. The creators were only trying to pay a fitting tribute to old classics through their remakes unlike Kakkar and Bagchi who at this point, are simply cashing in on the popularity of old songs and nostalgia that is associated with them. Kakkar and Bagchi did get some popularity initially but after the formula-based churning of remakes became obvious, even some of their die-hard fans started disassociating themselves with these artists. There is only so much nostalgia and old-world hits to cash in on – eventually, we all need songs that are original compositions.

The frequent remakes are proof that the music composers and label owners are not willing to take risks or lack the confidence to invest in something original. Why else would T-series remake Yohani’s Manike Mage Hithe which became a lockdown anthem for young millennials in 2021? None of the original composers or musicians, at least till the 00s, were afraid to experiment.but now it seems like betting on new artists and commissioning original songs is too much of a hassle for the label owners.

What’s worse, still, is that the record companies who own the masters and the rights of the original songs happily sell them off to Kakkar and Bagchi, who wreak havoc on them and the original artists are unfortunately left with no option or recourse.

Perhaps the Indian music scene, which is too saturated with cringe-worthy remakes and remixes needs a Renaissance of its own to flush out unoriginal songs and introduce new voices which can, at the very least, come up with new songs and sing them well. Till that happens, here’s Falguni Pathak’s original Maine Payal Hai Chhankai:

Deepansh Duggal is an entertainment, pop-culture and trends writer based in New Delhi. He specializes in op-eds based on the socio-political and gender issues in the world of entertainment and showbiz. He also writes explainers and occasionally reviews shows in the OTT space. He tweets at @Deepansh75. 

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