Pakistan’s Entertainment Industry has suffered lots of ups and downs since its inception, however, there is one department that has never stopped making us proud -the department of music. Amazing songs and artists have come out over the years and have made Pakistan proud on different platforms. However, as one would expect,music from olden times is forgotten as new music overtakes the throne. It’s pretty much like the stage of life- someone goes to give others space to showcase their talent. But, like some people are hard to forget, some songs are even harder. They just require renditions to fit in the time they are being played in. A gentle reminder of their greatness, if you will.
Making remakes of songs is a very tricky business, no one can argue with that. Unlike an original song, there are already hopes and expectations from the fans associated with a rendition. A comparison is also, of course, always drawn between the original and the remake. If the remake is better than the original than it is greatly appreciated and if it is not then it receives a lot of criticism too. Over the years, a lot of our old but gold legendary songs have gone through remakes not only in their place of origin (Pakistan) but in India too. In fact, a lot of superhit songs in India are the remakes of Pakistani songs.
Today, however, I am going to count down some of the disastrous remakes of our Pakistani legendary songs that have come out over the years. (The renditions sung by Indian singers, however, are not included.) The 5 songs below, according to me, did more damage than good. Either there was no synchronization between the voice of the singer and the tune, the beat of the song just didn’t match the lyrics, or it simply failed to sound good to the ears. Some of the most popular songs are made from taking risks but sometimes those risks produce a not very favourable result :
Sayonee – Rahat Fateh Ali Khan & Ali Noor
Sayonee is the talk of the town these days and for all the wrong reasons. The song was originally sung by Ali Azmat while he was in the band Junoon, in the year 1997. Coke Studio decided to produce a remake of this amazing song and even chose the best artists for it Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Ali Noor. However, they totally failed in their attempt to make the remake a success and please the audience. The song has managed to gain a lot of views on the internet thanks to how bad it is! Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, no doubt , has one of the best voices in the sub-continent but it seems like this song wasn’t made for him. In fact, in my opinion, this song is only meant to be sung by Ali Azmat in his style, powered by his strong vocals. Tweaking with this song brought down severe consequences in the form of embarrassing memes and blatant criticism on the internet. To say that Coke Studio’s version destroyed the essence of Sayonee wouldn’t be far from the truth.
Zara Chehra- Zohaib Hassan
It is true that Nazia Hassan and Zohaib Hassan were a very popular duo back in the time but after the pop queen’s tragic, untimely death, Mr. Zohaib didn’t make much music and unfortunately after listening to him sing Chehra on coke studio, I can see why. He had even worked for Coke Studio before (Indian Coke Studio) but his performance never made it to the air. They probably didn’t enjoy his singing much either. His cover of his classic, Zara Chehra would have been a total loss had it not been for Amir Zaki’s guitar solo. I remember the high anticipations I had from the song because I had hoped Amir Zaki and Zohaib working together will produce one of the greatest hits of all times but the only enchanting aspect of the entire performance was watching Amir and Zohaib working together. I wish they could have at least met the benchmark if not surpassing the original version!
Dekha Na Tha- Bilal Khan & QB
My ears are still bleeding from listening to the cover. Seriously, dekha na tha kabhi aesa koi cover. Bilal Khan dived in Alamgir’s fabulous song with his auto-tuned voice and managed to make me shake my head in extreme disappointment. Alamgir’s a legend of our music industry, the least Mr.Khan could do was sound like himself and not a robot! Moving on to his partner, QB- the talented voice of our Music Industry who’s singing in the song clearly shows that she is not made for pop! Her vocals are no doubt good, but seriously misplaced. Lastly, QB and Bilal Khan’s robotic voice do not jell together at all! What the original version entailed was: Alamgir’s amazing voice, a good beat, smooth vocals, luscious music and stirring shift of scales. All of this was lacking in the cover. The ‘Jazba’ song didn’t have ‘Jazba’ enough.
Sone Di Tavitri – Shahida Minni
If I was to rate this song in terms of how bad the rendition is from the original , I’d be inclined to use the symbol of infinity instead of a digit because mere digits cannot do justice to just how awful the Shahidi Minni’s version of Noor Jahan’s ‘Sone Di Tavitri’ is. She’s brought in an arabic touch to the song and uses a sultry voice to replace Noor Jahan’s soothing yet playful one. Music is arguably one of the most powerful forms of expression that we have. Madam Noor Jahan surely understood that if her singing of patriotic, romantic, or even heartbroken songs was anything to go by. Her voice had the power to generate an emotional effect in one. Shahida Minni’s voice clearly lacks that. To top it off, destroying the beat of the song to produce something ‘new’ and ‘modern’ managed to ruin the entire song in a spectacular way. Kudos to her for totally wrecking the song.
Ye Jo Halka Halka Suroor- Farhan Saeed
Farhan Saeed has a great voice and is also a very hard working singer, I am not going to deny that but his rendition of ‘ye jo halka halka suroor’ didn’t touch my heart. To be fair, it’s nearly impossible for any singer to sing Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s song to the late singer’s caliber but this wasn’t even close to it. Farhan’s voice just didn’t jell in with the classical music composition of the song. If I hadn’t listened the original then Farhan might have gotten a green light from me but as far as comparing his version with the original one goes- it has failed to impress me. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s strong yet melodious voice is dominant in the original version while Farhan has equal parts of music and his voice. Nusrat’s voice is smooth like honey in some parts of the song and at others, it has a very gripping coarseness. Farhan’s voice sounds very immature and the overall product, rushed in comparison to the original. Singers should really think through whether or not they can perform to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s level before undertaking such a task.
Honourable Mention- National Anthem of Pakistan
The recreation of the national anthem of Pakistan by Strings was just terrible. National anthem is more than just getting the notes right. It should have feelings of love and patriotism for one’s country too. Coke Studio’s version lacked that. Completely. The singers seemed too determined to get the notes right and very little about emotions. I would especially mention Nabeel Shaukat and Farhan Saeed playing a greater part in ruining the anthem than just being emotionless. The verse they were given was executed by both the singers with extremely low and fading notes. I had to remind myself that this is a national, supposedly most patriotic song not some tune that an angrez would play at some funeral. Danyal Zafar’s voice didn’t seem necessary in the anthem either as it was overshadowed by both his brother and Momina Mustehsan. The one tiny portion that you can hear is at the end of the word ‘hilaal’ where he is completely out of sync from the other two singers. All in all, this is the perfect example of too many cooks spoil the broth. Sometimes simplicity is better than extravagance.