(Don’t) play it again: The ‘Pasoori’ problem

The Pakistani pop song Pasoori, which entered the stratosphere soon after it was released into the ether in 2022, has received the ultimate back-handed compliment: a place in a Hindi film soundtrack. Rather than pay for the reuse rights of the Ali Sethi and Shae Gill-performed tune, the makers of Satyaprem Ki Katha have reworked the song with Arijit Singh and Tulsi Kumar.

The remake briefly united music lovers on both sides of the India-Pakistan divide. Apart from complaints about the choice of voices (there are apparently still some songs left that Arijit Singh cannot sing), there was dismay that Pasoori has been used to depict bliss rather than its original state of misery.

The original Pasoori (2022).
Pasoori Nu, Satyaprem Ki Katha (2023).

The exercise of picking up a beloved tune and repurposing it for a different context is almost certainly doomed for scorn. The near-immediate backlash doesn’t even spare the original composer. Did AR Rahman need to re-arrange his Humma Humma from Bombay (1995) as The Humma Song for OK Jaanu (2017) with a rap track by Badshah thrown in? 

Might it be possible today to re-imagine a mournful plea for a union between lovers as a stoner song? In Angoor (1982), Preetam Aan Milo

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