Madhuri or Jacqueline?

Amrita Prasad
Friday, 23 March 2018

The makers of the new version of Ek Do Teen have faced flak for not paying a fitting tribute to the original song. Popular choreographers share  their take on remakes, creative liberty and more

Mention Ek Do Teen and iconic beauty Madhuri Dixit looking sensuous and radiant in her pink outfit and dancing flawlessly comes to mind. For three decades, this song from the 1988 film Tezaab has remained a masterpiece, and Madhuri the ultimate dancing diva. The song not only got her fame but choreographer Saroj Khan also received a lot of appreciation for it. 

Now the song has been remade for the film Baaghi 2 featuring Jacqueline Fernandez. But it hasn’t gone down well with the audience. In the song, Jacqueline wears a pink costume quite similar to Madhuri’s and looks svelte and sexy while trying to perform the hook steps of Ek Do Teen. But the audience isn’t impressed. 

Recently the maker of Tezaab, N Chandra, called the new version of the song vulgar and crass, and seemed determined to take action against the makers of the recreated version. In the past, songs like Dum Maro Dum, Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast, etc were reinterpreted but couldn’t create the same magic as the original. 

We speak to choreographers to know their take on remakes and what should be kept in mind when choreographing an iconic song: 

“What you have to remember is that the memory of the original video will always be imprinted in the viewers’ memory. The emotion behind the video and how they felt at that time can never be changed. While doing a remake, it is okay to have a little fun and give it a new twist but the essence of the original video must stay,” says ace choreographer Shiamak Davar. 

When asked how much liberty should the choreographer take and where to draw the line, Shiamak says, “In terms of creative liberty, if you’re trusting a choreographer with a remake, you must allow them to choreograph it according to their vision.”

Mudassar Khan, Bollywood choreographer who was a judge on Dance India Dance season 4, 5 and 6, believes that whenever a choreographer creates a new version of an iconic song, s/he should attempt at giving it a completely new twist and feel. Mudassar, who is known for choreographing songs for films like Kick, Dabangg and Dabangg 2, Bodyguard and so on, recently did the choreography for a new version of the timeless song Keh Doon Tumhe for Baadshaho. He says, “When you are trying to recreate the magic of an iconic number you must explore your creativity to the fullest and bring a freshness and newness to the song and not just copy it. Everything — from the music to the artist, costumes, steps, visuals and the feel of the song — has to be new and unique.”

That said, a choreographer’s vision is highly influenced by the production house. Recently, Mudassar gave a completely new twist to Keh Doon Tumhe where Emraan Hashmi is seen romancing Esha Gupta. Mudassar, who had to deconstruct the original song, says, “We used an auto-rickshaw type vehicle which is called chakra to give the song a desi feel.”

About the creative liberties choreographers can take, he says that it all depends on what the director demands from the song. “If it is a promotional song, we get a lot of freedom to use our creativity and imagination, but if it is a part of a film, it has to be in sync with the story, hence even if we are making a remake of a popular song, we have to follow certain parameters,” says Mudassar.

“People are very sentimental when it comes to such songs — be it the music or the artists associated with it. The first thing that goes wrong while remaking a song is that they miserably fail in the department of music. Apart from Har Kisi Ko Nahi Milta and Aaj Phir Tum Pe Pyar Aaya Hai, other remixes that were recently made couldn’t create the same magic as the original. I recently heard the remixed version of Pehla Nasha and felt that they have totally ruined it,” says Terence Lewis, celebrated choreographer and TV personality.

When asked to comment on the new Ek Do Teen, Terence says, “Tezaab’s Ek Do Teen was the first song that got Sarojji her first award. Today, you may not find it so visually appealing and technically up-to-date, but back in the ’80s it was a huge phenomenon. The combination of Sarojji and Madhuri gave us one of the most iconic dance numbers. About the new version, all I want to say is that one has to be very careful about doing a song that somebody like Madhuri Dixit has already immortalised. Today, we may have better dancers, costumes, choreographers, technology and tools, but Madhuri is an epitome of beauty and grace, and her magic is timeless.”

According to Terence, Madhuri completely owns the song and makes the choreography her own. “When you see her dancing, you feel that she is enjoying the dance so much that it looks like she’s dancing for herself and not for the camera. No matter what dance steps the choreographer gives her, she brings a kind of magic to it with her expressions and grace, which today’s actors lack. They dance for the camera. They have to let go of their superficial aspects to be able to dance with their heart as Madhuri always did,” he quips.

Terence recently recreated the famous number from Sailab (Humko Aaj Kal Hai  Intezaar) with a twist by marrying Afro dance and hip-hip where both boys and girls are seen dancing in high heels. “The intention was to make it look international.  When an iconic number is being recreated, the best way is to go out of the box so that no one compares it with the original. For example, in Ek Do Teen, the hook step could have been done in a more intricate way. That said, I know Jacqueline is a fantastic dancer and she did what she was asked to do. The look of a song is the producer, director and choreographer’s prerogative,” says Terence. 

Contrary to rumours of dance guru Saroj Khan being upset with remake of Ek Do Teen, she is believed to have showered her blessings on the Baaghi 2 team and has appreciated the efforts put into the song. The choreographer expressed her happiness with the hard work of Ahmed Khan and Ganesh Acharya. She said, “I’m so happy and proud of Ahmed and Ganesh that they are giving a tribute to us. They have all my blessings.” 

Interestingly, director-choreographer Ahmed Khan was the assistant choreographer for Tezaab under the guidance of Saroj Khan, along with Ganesh Acharya who featured as a background dancer in the 1988 film.

Baaghi 2 producer Sajid Nadiadwala and director Ahmed Khan have given a tribute to N Chandra, Saroj Khan and Madhuri Dixit. There were even reports of N Chandra taking legal action against the makers but sources close to the film said, “There is no question of taking any legal action. Ek Do Teen was flagged off by Saroj Khan for whom Ahmed is a student. There is no competition here and there should be no comparison as every individual is different. Where is the point of being better than the original when it’s a tribute to the original team of Ek Do Teen.” 

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