Kareena pays homage, puts her own spin to ‘Choli Ke Peeche’

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Exercising restraint and allowing the original its due regard, all elements of the song combine to work seamlessly

The traumatising grunts, sighs, and moans of the 90s have been revamped for the 2024 film Crew, the team behind which just showcased the remake of the iconic song, Choli Ke Peeche. One might wonder – how can THE Madhuri Dixit, gracefully catering to the problematic male gaze with her innocence intact, despite lip-syncing a highly suggestive song, be topped or even matched?

The answer, however, seems to come in the form of a superstar who is, quite literally, an icon of our times. Kareena Kapoor Khan – our “Rihanna and Beyonce” as per Diljit Dosanjh – prominently becomes the main attraction, whilst some clips from the movie are interspersed throughout the YouTube version. Clad in pink, Kareena takes on the monumental task of paying homage to Madhuri. But Bebo is as Bebo does. Striking, sensual, and exuding all things masala, Kareena delivers and how. However, there’s another factor that makes the song work: Diljit.

The sensuality of the song has been turned down a notch, with the vibe lending itself to a more playful and flirtatious mood, as opposed to the in-your-face sultriness of the original. This works, as Diljit’s vocals find their sweet spot, taking over and intertwining with traces of the memorable track in perfect harmony. The revamped version respects the classic while understanding that it has a more modern audience to which it has to cater. Walking this tightrope, the team fuses the potpourri of talent to create the updated version, which is sure to become a hit dance number. One only wishes it had been released closer to the wedding season.

Don’t get us wrong – the song would have been incomplete without its overtly sexual sound effects that made the original an uncomfortable listen with our parents (had that ever been the case for any of us). It is thus that the remix does not forget about the same. ‘How so?’ one might ponder. Well, the unforgettable voices of Ila Arun and Alka Yagnik, who originally sang the song, have been partially retained, adding a nostalgic touch to the recreation. The song has been remixed by music composers Akshay & IP, who have lent their unique touch to the track, infusing it with contemporary vibes while retaining the essence of the original.

One also cannot talk about the song without discussing the video. Where the original features Madhuri wowing the audience with her expressions and poise without coming across as crass ( a tall order for the song), Kareena takes centre stage in the 2024 version, infusing her own charm and elegance into the remix. It is here where one wonders whether a comparison is fair. The videos are similar in theme but poles apart in terms of the setting and overall feel. In many ways, it almost feels meta watching Kareena groove to the song that she, too, knows is an ode to the original.

While Madhuri was in character whilst toying with her viewers in the original, Kareena seems to be in the know, playing herself, as she encourages the audience to match her pace and move alongside her to what is obviously a tribute, as opposed to a competing audiovisual journey. Just as one could not imagine what a remake with Kareena would have looked like, one can then, in turn, after having seen the song, not imagine how any other version of the same would have manifested. Exercising restraint and allowing the original its due regard, all elements of the song combine to work seamlessly.

A notable aspect of Crew seems to be the fact that the team may be going for this comfortable, sweet spot it has discovered, amalgamating the old with the new. This is reflected in another song, Ghagra, which is a new rendition of Ila’s older track. One can only assume that this is done to evoke reminiscence while amping up the beats and reworking the vibes of these musical offerings. It’s a perfect way to also reflect the casting choices, with revered names like Tabu and Kareena partying in tandem with the new-age actor Kriti Sanon.

All in all, the song is an absolute banger, and it is evident that a lot of thinking went into the same for the outcome to be as such. As Crew inches closer to its release, one truly wonders what other tricks the makers have up their sleeves.

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