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Play it again, Shyam

The difficulty of spotting a ‘common guy’ in the video seems to reflect how we undervalue the non-celebrity these days, writes Rajiv Arora.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2010 23:36 IST
Rajiv Arora

Remakes and comparisons go hand in hand. Forever living in the shadow of the original, the risk of a remake losing out to its ‘novel’ predecessor is generally high. So it wasn’t surprising that listeners first juxtaposed ‘Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ with its 22-year-old progenitor ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ and then evaluated their relative worths.

The 1988 ‘alternative’ national anthem ‘Ek Sur’ a.k.a ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ and its 2010 avatar that was unveiled on Republic Day on national TV are from the same source pool. Some folks feel the new kid on the block is a classic case of ‘Bollywood overdose’. Many thank the makers of ‘Phir Mile Sur...’ for at least excluding non-Hindi-speaking Katrina Kaif from the menagerie of film stars who range from members of the Bachchan gharana to the latest entrant in the hall of fame, Deepika Padukone. The absence of other national icons such as Sachin Tendulkar, Lata Mangeshkar and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, has ruffled many feathers.

Some others feel perturbed by the song’s length — 16 minutes 17 seconds as against 6 minutes 9 seconds of the original. And many others are still grumbling about a video that’s high on gloss and low on ‘theme’, unlike the original one.

Even I couldn’t resist the comparison between the original and its mutant counterpart. Yes, I did feel uneasy. Not because Phir Mile Sur... was below par, but because it was exactly how I’d expected it to be.

The difficulty of spotting a ‘common guy’ in the video seems to reflect how we undervalue the non-celebrity these days. There must have been problems of ‘accommodation’ in the video. After all, with so many faces representing India today, it’s not easy to pick even the ‘best’ of the big lot.

But going by the latest on the subject, Kailash Surendranath, the proud maker of the Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara video, is set to re-make the remake, this time including the biggie who had been left out: Sachin Tendulkar. Perhaps it’s time to propose that Kailash-ji reserves some room for the person who will render the right ‘feel’ to the song: the aam Indian.