Mile Sur Mera Tumhara is, without doubt, one the most iconic symbols of late 80s Indian popular culture. Some love it for the music. Some for the visuals. Some for the memories associated with it—of father coming back from work as it played on the TV or everyone rushing into the living room to catch a then-rare glimpse of Amitabh Bachchan.
And some, like me, for the sight of P K Banerjee (who gave Bengalis such enduring phrases as “Dui Milan-r Milan” while presenting Italian League soccer on DD) wiping his bald spot as he and Arun Lal get down from a metro train, with the same cool swagger that would later inspire Quentin Tarantino in “Reservoir Dogs”.
So when I heard of an attempt to re-mix and make Mile Sur more relevant it for a new generation, my heart brimmethed over with joy at the brilliance of the idea. After all what could be more sure to succeed than to take a much-loved work of art and try to make it better. After all, look at how RGV improved on the original Sholay and made that movie whose name I forget but which rhymes with Haag. I was even more excited when I heard that Zoom TV, the guys who know how to make use of their zoom lens like no other (witness this expose wherein scratches made by adamantine claws on Deepika Padukone’s back prove conclusively that Wolverine is the new man in her life), were the brains behind this project. I was now sure that the focus of this new Mile Sur Tumhara (called Phir Mile Sur Tumhara like Phir Hera Pheri and Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayi and Phir Haathon Mein Sharaab Hai) would on the common people, like the man rowing the boat or the mahout as it was in the original, and less on Bollywood because after all Zoom Isko Dekho.
Once I saw the new Mile Sur Tumhara, I was blown away by the same euphoria that overpowers me everytime I come to the scene in the original when 16-wickets-on-debut-and-never-anything-after-that Narendra Hirwani, the dashing youth icon of the late 1980s, walks down the beach in a sweater.
This was the perfect re-adaptation of the old favorite, one that was guaranteed to strike a chord with the “Let’s have some raunak shaunak, let’s have some party now, let’s have some ralla rappa” generation with glamor exuding from every frame and the peppier, more happening “Yehi life ka gist. So let’s twist” demented variations on the overtly simple original.
Of course there was one major fail for me. No it was not the outlandish length of the whole thing—-after all rubbing sande ka tel on anything does extend it outrageously as we all know from engineering college hostel. No what was really shocking for me, was despite the theme of the torch being passed on from one generation to the next (hence Prakash Padukone becoming Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan spawning Amitabh Bachchan), there was no room for Jeetendra’s son Tusshar Kapoor and more importantly for Mimoh. I mean come on now. No Mimoh. Remember Mithunda in the original? Remember the elephant also?
But then this flaw, major as it was, was still swamped out by the other glittering successes of the music video.
Success 1: Aishwarya Rai channeling the Sharmila Tagore expression from the original.
Success 2: Abhishek Bachchan popping out from the back with a “I come as a package deal with dad and wife” apologetic smile.
Success 3: Rituparna-mashi and Bumba-da (Prasenjit , the outrageously bearded Paaji [Bengali for naughty] Paaji [Hindi]) representing the best and brightest of today’s Bangali intelligentsia (in the 1988 version it was people like Sunil Gangopadhyay , Mrinal Sen, Suchitra Mitra and Nirendranath Chakrabarti)
Success 4: Deepika Padukone doing a Liril tribute (after all the director of the music video is the man behind the original Liril Ad)
Success 5: Shiamak Davar proving once again that he is the Johnny Lever of dance.
Success 6: Aamir Khan doing the old Bam Bam Bole meets Aati Kya Khandala facial expressions and “I am a superstar and watch me blend me with commoners” act that he does so well.
Success 7: Pagal-e-Azam Sonu Nigam, looking as fresh as he stepped out from the sets of “Jaani Dushman”, doing his excessively exaggerated gayiki and ada-kaari.
Success 8: Shahid Kapoor continuing his Chance Pe Dance act
Success 8: And finally and awesomely, Shahrukh Khan, in his hammy goodness, packing in seventeen seconds of undiluted over-acting concluding with his “never-seen-before” arms-outstretched romantic pose just to remind you, in case you forgot, the filmy flimsiness of the whole act.
Yes I can truly see this becoming the new song of a new India.
Now I wait eagerly for “Phir Baje Sargam Har Taraf Se” with Pritam, Himesh and Rakhi Sawant.