Is ‘Baaji’ reviving Lollywood’s golden era’s classics through its music album?

Saqib Malik’s Meera-Amna Ilyas starer Baaji is this year’s one of the most anticipated films. With its release date approaching (that’d be 28th of June), the buzz surrounding the film is only growing and Zeb Bangash’s recently released track Badlaan has further augmented it.

Badlaan is the second released and overall the fourth track that we know of, from the film’s album, until now. While it is being said that the song was originally featured in a 1977 Punjabi flick Danka starring Sultan Rahi, Neelo and Mustafa Qureshi, the melody in Baaji is actually original (more on it in the following paragraphs). 

The earlier known songs from Baaji, Khilti Kali and Ye Aaj Mujhko Kia Hua, are also old classics, recreated for the film while a jazz track featured in the trailer Sham Akeli ( yet to be released) is inspired from a Hollywood classic.

Does Baaji only feature renditions of old classics?

What’s interesting regarding the film’s music album is that until now, all the released songs are old classics which are essentially redone for Baaji. This brings us to our question; are all the songs from Baaji remixes/renditions of old classics?

In order to address our question, we got in touch with Saqib Malik himself to get an idea of what the film’s music album is all about and whether all the songs in the film are, in fact, remixes. Here is what he had to say:

“We have a total of 8 tracks in the film. Only Khilti Kali and Ye Aaj Mujhko Kia Hua are reproductions [of old classics]. The rest of them are all originals. The Tafu Sahib’s compositions, however, are yet to be released.”

“The latest song Badlaan is actually an original melody and so are the lyrics for the most part. Our main refrain “Badlaan ich aj mainu guddi wangon sajna udaai ja” is very different from the old Punjabi song, however. We have taken a poetic refrain that’s common in Punjabi and have used it according to a new composition. Also, the original song was a mujra. For Baaji, however, we wanted a very heart tugging acoustic feel that’s why Badlaan is an original and has nothing to do with Udaai Ja except a similar refrain, but the refrain here is used in a totally different context,” explained Saqib Malik. 

As for the two songs composed by Tafu Sahab – one of Lollywood’s most famous music directors from the 90s and before – Saqib said, “The songs done by Tafu Sahib are original and created specifically for Baaji. One is part of the background score, while the other one is filmed on Meera as a stage dance number.”

The case of the jazz number

As mentioned earlier, there is also a jazz number by Zeb Bangash – choreographed by Wahab Shah with a waltz dance sequence – as seen in the trailer.

The fact that jazz music is done very rarely in Pakistani films, combined with its unique choreography, the song will definitely catch the attention of musical connoisseurs when released. It is said to be inspired by Peggy Lee’s classic You Give Me Fever. Saqib started by mentioning this inspiration yet maintained that Baaji‘s song is still an original one.

“Originally, we were going to do an official cover version of “Fever” in English but then we decided to do an Urdu song infused with jazz. It’s entirely original and you can compare it to “Fever” [when it’s released]. “Fever” was a starting point but of course, what we ended up with, has a flavor and an identity of its own,” told Saqib.

“Zeb Bangash and Saad Sultan, who produced the song, had proper horns (trumpets, saxophone, etc.) played by musicians in New York. We wanted an authentic jazz sound and not just something created electronically. In fact, we have used a lot of original instrumentation in all our music for a deeper, more organic sound,” Saqib further told GL. 

Why old classics, in particular?

In a question regarding whether the decision for the music album to contain mostly old songs carried a reason, Saqib had the following to say: 

“The use of remixes was to pay tribute to an era when our film music ruled the airways. Also because the film has a backdrop of the film industry and Meera plays a film star, we thought it would be filmi to reproduce film classics that I loved growing up. And more than anything, I feel our old music is z national treasure and a part of our cultural identity and heritage. India, so successfully exploits their old music, making it palatable to a whole new generation of music lovers, so I thought why not us? I really want people to know what glorious music our industry made [back in the day].” 

Saqib’s intention to generate a newer interest in our younger generation for our long forgotten film heritage that spans nearly a century already seems to be successful. After the release of Baaji‘s version of Don’t be Silly, the original one on Youtube saw an exponential increase in its views and comments for earlier, the views were just a few hundred.

The present generation isn’t interested in oldies until they are remade into something which they find relatable and contemporary. The success of Baaji‘s music is just a prime example of that.

It’s about time other filmmakers also gave attention to bringing the golden era of the Pakistani cinema, back to life.

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I am a doctor,a foodie and a traveller. The aroma of Popcorn ,the peculiar sensation of being in a darkened theatre,enjoying a Film, intrigues & gives me a reason to promote Pakistani Cinema. anjumhassan87@gmail.com

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