I was surfing through the tripe that Times of India chooses to call news one of these days, when I read that an actress had signed out of a film that was being produced by Himesh Reshammiya. I was shocked. Himesh Reshammiya? A producer?? What had happened to the world?
Even though Himesh Reshammiyya is going through some bad times, I will not deny that I was a fan. I genuinely liked his songs in Aashiq Banaya Aapne, Aksar, and those other early films that he gave the music for.
Even though people laugh at him today, Himesh was the first and only cross-national singing superstar. Others had their own segments – Udit Narayan and Kumar Sanu on the rural market or Shaan/KK on the urban market. Himesh was the only artiste whose songs could be heard in the swankiest clubs and also the loudest autos. And though this survey wasn’t exactly done by Ernst & Young, his songs played in the background for almost all MMS clips that were made in India in the last few years. In the truest sense, the voice of our maddening nation. Himesh was the only rockstar to have existed in India.
It was hard to crack the formula that made his songs work. Was it the fast pace of all the songs? Was it the theme of the unfaithful girl, and the honest lover, a theme most Indian men like to live in? Or was it that someone who was not originally a star, had climbed the ladder and was splashed all over the television? No one really nose what the formula was, but it worked.
In an interview on Koffee with Karan, the lyricist Javed Akhtar had this interesting story to reveal about Himesh. When a lyricist wrote the lyrics for a song, Himesh asked him to leave the punchline for him to write. According to him, the punchline was the most catchy, and it is what makes a song.
If you look at his songs, you will realise that most of his songs have punchlines that are repeated, and have easy lyrics, which can be sung by one and all.
Aashiq banaya, aashiq banaya, aashiq banaya aapne.
Shakalaka lakalaka lakalaka lakalaka Shakalaka Boom Boom
I love you O Sayyonee, I love you O Sayyonee, I love you O Sayyonee, Koi Shaq? (What’s up?)
In interviews, Himesh revealed that he has a bank of about 3000 tunes with him, and all he needs to do is churn them out, and he would never run out of hits. “Ever morning when I brush my teeth, I compose a tune,” said the man.
However, Himesh was never able to crack the cream of the market. He made music for films starring Emraan Hashmi, Akshay Kumar, or himself. People like the Chopras, the Johars, the Akhtars, never used his music for their films.
When he himself came on Karan Johar’s show, he expressed his desire to create tunes for A-list films and stars. I was a little scared that he might be alienating his target audience.
As if on cue, Himesh went ahead and got himself a makeover.
Change, they say, is good. But why would you want to change something that works perfectly?
It was doomed from the beginning, I tell you, this makeover ka chakkar. All those who have seen the trailer of Bin Bulaye Baraati would agree with me that sometimes, you just know something is not going to work out when you see it for the first time.
And I’d blame the all-homogenising, all-encompassing nature of the ‘market’ for what was being done to Himesh.
Earlier, he was a rolly-polly, bearded guy. None of the six-pack bullshit that every other actor seems to have. Indians have paunches, they relate to people with paunches. Himesh was the guy who looked uncomfortable and jittery when he was in front of the camera, but once the song began, he was the Main Man. Capable of squeezing emotions out you didn’t know existed in the first place out of you. The bearly beard which invoked the animalistic emotions in one and all. Tears, blood and sweat went into each of the songs. And the cap.
Whose brainwave was it to ask him to get rid of the cap? Are you shitting me? Himesh without the cap is like Che Guevera without his eyes.
Suddenly, there was this suave Himesh Reshammiya on our TV screens. The transformation left him nowhere. Neither was he suave enough for the classes, nor recognisable enough for the masses. A deep connection was left a void vacuum.
His songs, which always had killer punchlines that were catchy and easy to remember, became a mish-mash of a million things, changed beyond recognition.
I think he was going through a dilemma, trying to please everyone. What’s cool for one will never be cool for the other. And anyway, the definition of cool is as vague as Wasim Akram’s commentary. However, there are a few broad pointers that can tell you if you are doing something cool or not. For Himesh’s benefit, I have chosen to present some of those below:
But now, enough is enough, Himesh. Here is something you should know.
If you fit into the conventional, you would be Nadeem-Shravan. We have others, you know.
If we wanted just romantic songs, there is Enrique, who has been constipating on top of the charts for a few years now. If we wanted party songs, there is a lot of bull coming in from this Pitbull fellow. If we wanted peppy Hindi numbers, there are a million music directors. What we truly need is gut-wrenching songs of pain.
Songs of betrayed lovers, and unrequited love, in a country with a sex ratio of 850/1000. We need someone to invoke our banal instincts, our innermost pains. We need you to be you.
To quote another guy who had long hair and sang a bit through his nose, “Come as you are. As you were. As I want you to be.”