There is no shortage of instances where music composers have re-used their tunes across many songs, either as-is or with variations. A vast majority of such instances happen in the case of composers who work in multiple languages and freely port their tunes from one language to another. Composers like Salil Chowdhury, S. D Burman, R. D Burman, Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Ilaiyaraja, A. R Rahman, etc. would dominate this category. However, there have also been many examples where composers have done that within the same language.
In this post I am highlighting some examples where such re-use has happened within the same language. It is impossible to provide an exhaustive list, not only because such a list is very large, but also because it is not humanly possible to be aware of all such cases. I have only tried to look at various categories of such re-use and tried to provide one example for each. I have also tried to cover a wide range of composers and time periods (1940s-90s).
So let’s dive in …
Masters of Re-use
No discussion on re-use of tunes within the same language can be complete without the mention of Pt. S. N Tripathi and Rahul Dev Burman who did this several times. Both belong to completely different schools of composing, which reflects in the way the re-use appears in their compositions.
S. N Tripathi
Rahul Dev Burman
Let’s now look at some categories in which one can classify re-use of a tune within the same language:
What does a composer do when he loves a tune very much, but the film for which he composes that doesn’t reach the audience? He re-uses it of course. With the hope that it reaches more people the second time round. This is probably what happened with Aziz Hindi when he composed a song in Rajkumari’s voice in Dil Ke Tukde (1940s). The film did not get a release, so he created another song for Biwi (1950), which was an almost exact replica.
Same Mukhda, Different Antaras
There are many instances where a composer uses just a portion of the tune of one song in another. Here is an example where S. Mohinder re-used the tune of the mukhda of one of his songs in another song. The antaras, however, were tuned differently. The lyricist was the same.
Different Mukhda, Same Antaras
There have been instances where the composers have chosen the tune of an antara to be repeated. Like this case where the antara of a seductive song is lifted and dropped as-is into a romantic song.
Parts Re-used in Different Songs
Some composers have re-used their tunes across different songs. Take this case for example. Laxmikant Pyarelal created a bhajan for Kala Aadmi (1978), which had the chorus singing one tune, and the mukhda was in another tune.
Around 13 years later, they reused the tune of the chorus portion of this song for the initial portion (Natkhat Bansiwale Gokul Ke Raja) of this song from Saudagar (1991).
And the mukhda of the Kala Aadmi song resurfaced a few years later as the mukhda of this song from Bhairavi (1996)
Re-created, then Dubbed!!
There have been a few curious cases where a composer re-use his tune from another language, but at the same time someone decided to dub the original film. So you end up with a tune appearing twice in one language without the composer intending to do so. A. R Rahman had created a brilliant song in the Tamil film Duet (1994). The tune was picked up for the Hindi film, Kabhi Na Kabhi (1997), but while the Hindi film was still being made, the Tamil film was dubbed in Hindi as Tu Hi Mera Dil (1995). And we got these two songs in Hindi, one with some really atrocious lyrics, and another where the singers were simply not able to catch up with the high notes. The recreated version, however, had a different arrangement and the antaras were also slightly different.
Same Language? Not Quite…
There is at least one instance I am aware of where two similar songs are in the same language, but the films are in different languages. Sachin Dev Burman had composed a few Hindi songs for a Bengali film Chaitali (1969). He took the mukhda tune of one of them, made a few modifications, and turned into another song that turned out to be his swan song. The Hindi film was Deewangee (1976).
Crossing the Borders
Now, the final category for this post. Same composer, same language… but the tune has travelled past national borders. Nisar Bazmi never got much success while he was composing for Indian films. He migrated to Pakistan in the early 60s, and became quite successful as a composer there. In this example, he reused one his tunes sung by Lata Mangeshkar in India (co-composed with Chic Chocolate) for a Noor Jehan song in Pakistan.