Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Remixes

Almost every other soundtrack these days seems to have a song that is a remix of an older song. The term remix covers many different kinds though. We have songs that retain the same tune but put in new lyrics(like Billa's My Name is Billa...) and we have songs that play around with the tune but have the same lyrics as the original song(like Yaaradi Nee Mohini's Paalakkaattu...). Then there are songs that retain the old song but introduce pieces of new music(like Pollaadhavan's Engeyum Eppodhum...) and songs that borrow a little bit of an old number and include it in an otherwise new song(like Pattiyal's Namma Kaattula...). I think the first remix number in Tamil cinema was probably Oorai Therinjukkitten... from Samsaaram Adhu Minsaaram, which took the blockbuster number from Padikkaadhavan and gave it new lyrics.

Remixes have both opponents and defenders. While the critics see a remix as outright blasphemy and consider it a pointer to the lack of creativity on the part of the music director, its defenders say that it is simply proof of the original's enduring appeal and argue that it is a homage since it popularizes the original among a new generation of listeners.

I tread the middle path in this argument since my opinion about remixes changes on a song-by-song basis. I do have my own favorite songs but I don't think I have the kind of attachment to any of them that makes me immediately frown upon an attempt to remix it (or maybe its just that there hasn't yet been a remix of a song I really really like!). While something like the Nalandhaanaa... remix from Silambaattam, even if it borrows only a couple of lines from the original, horrifies me and makes me lean against remixes in general, I do enjoy numbers like the Vasantha Mullai... remix from Pokkiri. The argument that a remix points to the composer's lack of creativity doesn't really fly since the music director does compose the other songs in the album. For instance, G.V.Prakash remixed Engeyum Eppodhum... in the Pollaadhavan soundtrack but he also gave us the fantastic MinnalgaL Koothaadum... in the same album.

So my criteria for liking a remix are simple - it respects the original and it fits the situation it is used in (ofcourse, it should also be picturized well but that goes for any song). By those criteria, my favorite remix so far is PonmagaL VandhaaL... from Azhagiya Thamizh Magan. Apart from being really catchy(I absolutely love the way the muthukkaL... line plays out in different tunes), its lyrics perfectly reflect Vijay's frame of mind since he is going to marry the very rich Shriya. Another remix I like is Aahaa Vandhiduchu... from Vallavan. There too, the remix's situation of a disguised Simbhu wooing Nayanthara mimicked the original song's situation of a buck-toothed Kamal wooing Sridevi and so it fit in perfectly. Another favorite would be the Ennammaa Kannu... remix from ThiruviLaiyaadal Aarambam since it was put in to describe the clash of wits between Dhanush and Prakashraj, in quite the same way that the original described the clash between Rajni and Satyaraj.

Its clear that only a few remixes so far have been used appropriately. The remaining were born out of the composer's wish to piggyback on the popularity of an old song or simply follow the trend of remixing. Its clear that remixes are here to stay, atleast for the near future and there are quite a few in the pipeline(BadrakaLi's Kettele Ange... and Rajadhi Raja's Engitta Modhadhe... for example). Hope the makers realize what makes remixes work and use them the right way.

18 Comments:

At 12:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BB,
I too take the middle path on this. Really enjoyed Vasantha Mullai and Ponmagal Vanthal.
However, most of the remixes can be definitely attributed to lack of Creativity.
Yuvan started this trend of blatantly ripping off his Father's tunes by just adding a few sounds or RAP in between.
I have nothing against G.V.Prakash, i think he has shown some promise however the song Minnalgal Koothadum is copied from

http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=Gjq1g3j7WFc

Back to Square one!

 
At 12:28 AM, Blogger mahesh said...

Hi there Balaji,

I think Engeyum Eppodhum remix is credited to Yogi B. I remember reading an interview by GV Prakash in some newspaper where he had stated this.

Regards,
Vincimax

 
At 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remix is definitely a lack of creativity on the part of the music director.If we give that latitude to directors,story writers and the other technicians imagine what would be the end result.Remix more than anything shows the dearth of originality and creativity.I am not saying that there was never a similar phase before but the present one is of a slighty different nature.

Supreme tastes in our music culture gave us a MSV.The dedication and refined intrests of MSV gave us an ilayaraja.The genius of ilayaraja gave us the prodigious rahman.The carelessness of rahman has given us a deva.His crassness has given us gana,copy,'inspiration' and now indirectly to this state of remix.I can vouch this would have not happened in MSV and IR's era.Remix in my opinion is nothing but running out of ideas.period

Sri

 
At 1:23 AM, Blogger skanda said...

"engeyum epodhum" was not remix by GV Prakash but by Yogi B, GV refused to to the remic and hence went to another musician.

 
At 6:09 AM, Blogger Extra-Ordinarily Ordinary said...

You forgot thottal poo malarum - the best amongst these remixes.

 
At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sri..would you care to explain this statement - "The carelessness of rahman has given us a deva"?! I do not wish to start a Rahman vs Ilaiyaraja vs MSV debate (BTW, I adore all three of them), but what did Rahman do to create Deva?!

BTW, BB, I think Oorai Therinjukitten was more of a spoof than a remix!!

Sanjay

 
At 7:36 AM, Anonymous faitoo said...

Yeah i was about to say the same.. how could u forget the "thottaal poo malarum" i somehow feel that brought in the remix culture in all movies...


and the worst which i dont like is vishal movie " adi yee aaathaa, aathorama variya" .. total crap.

 
At 7:44 AM, Blogger tt_giant said...

As long as the end product is good, I don't mind remixes at all!

 
At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Sri, In MSV and Raja days Music Direction was a monopoly. Rahman less work approach and venturing into Bollywood gave other Musicians like Deva, VidayaSagar, Karthik Raja, Yuvan, Bharadwaj space in 90s.
Unfortunately non of these guys could deliver Consistently, Plain lack of Creativity! It's not Rahman's Fault!
The Tamil Film Music could've been in a Different scenario if some of these guys just raised their game Consistently.

 
At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly, it is rubbish to through the current lot with the leagues of MSV, IR, ARR. I am not saying that the listed 3 were 100% perfect or genuine, but they were gifted.

If you ask me, remixes kill the soul of the originals. Ponmagal and Thottal are examples of ARR's genius. The loud noise that is passed of as remix by other MDs, is an example of their pathetic skills and necessity to survive.

And the worse matter is, none of the original musicians/lyricists/film compay are paid by most of them. Yet, the same people cry over music sales?!:-) Kasta kaaalam.

-kajan

 
At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Jena said...

I liked Hey Atha Athorama Variya from Malaikottai.

 
At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sri,
neenga sollardu korvaya vandalum, doesn't make sense! Deva was an established (okay semi-established) music director even before Rahman made his debut. Rahman has created good, different music with creative directors such as Maniratnam. I agree with BB, remix in itself is not bad but it cannot be a straight lift with a slightly different BGM. I am tired of such attempts. The first one I remember was roop tera mastana which was wonderfully fresh. That was sooo many years ago though. Its unfortunate that people like Mani sharma still do it despite being capable of coming up with wonderful tracks (he's tremendously successful in Telugu than Tamil). I guess you have to hand it to the producers and directors for inhibiting creativity. While it is good to see someone as young as GV Prakash refuse to remix songs, it is also unfortunate to see the same person "remix" songs from other continents.

I might be switching topics here, but how is it any different from plagiarizing music? We make a big deal about it because we've heard the original songs. Someone that has not heard the original (vasantha mullai for example) is not going to complain and thats precisely where these songs are targeted.

 
At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better a credited remix (where we know its roots and know that its a remix) than a stolen original.

How many times have we come across a song that is popular and earns the MD a good name only to find out that the song is a blatant (I'm not even talking inspiration or somewhat similar here- I mean exact) copy of another song?

I much prefer a remix where at least I know the source.

Sidenote- Ponmagal and Vasantha Mullai are my faves too

BTW - check out http://www.itwofs.com/ to get an idea of what I mean by blatant copying

 
At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BB
Engeyume eppothum was done by YogiB and not by GV Prakash.
Among current lot of music directors,I think only Rahman remixes the song without spoiling the original.
All his remixes like Ponmagal vandhal in ATM,Thottaal poo malarum in New had kept the soul of the old songs intact.
Rest all butcher the songs
-Jey

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

anon, yeah I guess the lack of creativity comes into play depending on the composer :)
did see some similarities betn 'minnalgal koothaadum' and that song but not as blatant a rip-off as some other songs I think. still its disappointing though :)

mahesh/skanda, didn't know that. thanx :)

sri, but we do give that latitude to others. In case of remakes, the directors, story writers, script writers, etc. all have an original to work off of right? but we do enjoy them as long as they handle it well, make suitable changes, etc. :)

extraordinarily/faitoo, yes I did like that one. but since that was just a duet, I didn't think it was necessary or that it fit into the movie :)

sanjay, spoof? I didn't feel that way. it did have some funny lyrics but the whole movie was that way :)

tt, my sentiments exactly :)

kajan, let's not go into the whole copyright business. things r pretty pathetic there for the indian film industry as a whole I think :)

anon, I agree. a remix isnt all that different in concept from plagiarizing a song from a different language. just that more people would've heard the original in case of a remix but that alone cannot legitimize it :)

anon, as I said, as long as the source is credited(and not just assumed just because most people have heard the original), I can take both a remix and an inspiration :)

Jey, I heard somewhere that even 'Ponmagal Vandhaal' was credited to someone else since ARR also wouldn't do remixes. But no one else seems to be saying that :)

 
At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The easy going attitude of rahman paved the way where lesser talented musicians and thiruttu isai thendrals like deva have become popular.During MSV's era there was a veda.During IR's era the two musicians who were popular was SG and chandrabose ( but you cant compare them to deva and sirpi).But the standard maintained by IR and his purist approach made sure that people like deva don't thrive.I know deva made his debut before rahman.But had the high standards that was there during IR's era been maintained by rahman he now would not have been tamil films most prolific music director.Rahman's venture in to hindi films may have contributed very little to the present state.I dont think MSV and IR would have favoured remixes.We can debate this endlessly but i am sure we can agree to disagree

Cheers
Sri

 
At 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IR definitely set high standards but his consistency is highly debatable. The Tunes were highly repetitive so work less approach was not a bad transition just that others fail to pick up the Baton.
It was also a Phase where Directors and Actors cut down their Work to concentrate on one film at a time.
It was a natural transition and not Rahman's callousness.
Nobody knows What's in IR's Mind! If IR can make a Medley in Pithamagan there's a chance of him doing a Remix of MSV's number.
None of the guys, IR, MSV and Rahman are purists. They have their share of Lifts.

 
At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved the TB mix in Theepidikka from AA, sounded so hot!

 

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