Has any remix or reboot of a popular Hindi song ever worked? The answer is a firm and loud “No, never ever!” when you consider the evidence, which ranges from Hawa Hawai to Ek Do Teen. Producers and composers keen on basking in reflected glory have forgotten the purpose of the remix, which is to re-imagine a tune rather merely re-record it with redundant flourishes (such as adding a rap track). The placement of the new versions in movies further displays an impoverishment in imagination – they are usually dance numbers that don’t have a place within the story except to encourage a peek at the smartphone screen or a quick visit to the facility.
There are exceptions. Vikas Bahl’s Queen (2014) has an enjoyable soundtrack by Amit Trivedi, which includes a remixed song that actually works. Rani (Kangana Ranaut) has been ditched at the altar, and she decides to go ahead with the planned honeymoon to Europe. The life-altering journey begins in Paris, where she is adopted by the sultry and generous-hearted Vijaylakshmi (Lisa Haydon). Dressed in a kurti, jeans and a grandmother sweater and clutching a cheap bag, Rani hardly looks like the average woman about town. She is initially nervous and awkward at a pub, but encouraged by the free-flowing alcohol, Vijaylakshmi’s encouragement and the familiar sound of a Hindi film song, Rani begins to move her feet.
As Asha Bhosle’s high-pitched voice in Hungama Go Gaya resounds through the pub, the bag is flung aside and the sweater flies off too. Ranaut’s body language indicates a woman determined to have a good time, while her shifting expressions brilliantly reflect the turmoil in her heart. Ranaut, like the song itself, is a sensation in this moment.
The original tune featured in Ravi Tandon’s enjoyable suspense thriller Anhonee (1973). An unsolved murder binds together Sunil (Sanjeev Kumar), the saintly Rekha (Leena Chandavarkar), her stepmother (Kamini Kaushal), and a host of nightclub creatures including Rita (Bindu). Rita runs a gambling den, and before being hauled up for her role in the murder plot, she takes to the dance floor in a display of abandon.
Composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal and written by Verma Malik, Hungama Ho Gaya is a typical 1970s cabaret number dedicated to the joys of liquor. The lyrics make a case for equal treatment – why is it that only I cause a sensation when I drink, Rita demands to know.
Bahl intelligently channels the hedonistic spirit behind the words in Queen. Egged on by the song’s catchy beats and defiant chorus, Rani discovers her inner Rita. She drinks, dances wildly, lets down her hair, and puts aside her humiliation. Rani will never be the same again, just like Rita, who is reformed after her performance and helps push Anhonee towards its resolution.