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DJ Aqeel: Earlier, when we would remix songs, people used to give us gaalis

Updated on: 26 May,2023 09:58 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Nascimento Pinto |

Ahead of his performance in Mumbai this weekend, Mid-day Online spoke to DJ Aqeel, one of India’s most iconic DJs, who changed the way we danced to classic Bollywood songs with his peppy remixes. Aqeel dwells on the changing face of DJing, popularity of remixes today and his latest work

DJ Aqeel: Earlier, when we would remix songs, people used to give us gaalis

DJ Aqeel is known for songs like 'Keh Do Tumhe', 'Tu Tu Hai Wahi' and 'Yeh Wada Raha'. Photo Courtesy: Imagicaa

When DJ Aqeel started remixing popular Bollywood songs over two decades ago, it was probably unheard of in India. In fact, most people at the time would even criticise those who tampered with the original songs. Fortunately and rightfully so, India has come a long way since and now people have developed acceptance of remixes and different kinds of music. 20 years later, Indians are enjoying the same remixes as they appear in different Bollywood movies now.  
"Long time ago, when we used to do remixes, people used to give us gaalis, saying: ‘you're ruining the songs'," shares the Mumbai-based DJ, who will be playing as part of Imagicaa's 10th anniversary celebrations this weekend on May 27. Famous for the likes of 'Keh Do Tumhe', 'Tu Tu Hai Wahi' and 'Yeh Wada Raha', Aqeel, who has been playing for the last 22 years says, "In the last 10 years, it is exactly what's happening; old songs are coming back in films, remixed and recreated but we bore the brunt of it." However, he isn't bitter about the past. In fact, he is happy that remixes are getting their due credit if not independently, at least through Bollywood films.  
Being a DJ and creating remixes 
For this change, a lot of credit is due for people who shifted their approach about DJs over the decades, not only in Mumbai but also across India. This change has fuelled the second coming of remixes. Aqeel, who has been right in the middle of it all, shares from personal experiences, "Earlier, when you told a person that you are a DJ, they would ask you what do you do? When you say you play music, they would ask, 'which instrument do you play?' From then to now, you know it has changed a lot." Noting how there are more women DJs than before, Aqeel says he won't be surprised if there will be more female than male DJs in the years to come and any kind of development like that is encouraging.  
This is only possible because the industry itself has come a long way in the last 20 years. At the time, even amid the lack of awareness about DJs in India, Aqeel kept at it by doing every song he wanted to do officially or unofficially because he was always mixing. "When I play my music, I make my own. I don't download and play it. So, when I remix anything, it is completely different and you wouldn't hear it anywhere else," shares the DJ, who is all set to play for young and old this weekend at the Waterpark, with his latest mixes. 
Interestingly, this isn't the first time he is DJing at the waterpark. The last time he played at Imagicaa was four years ago. It is also the reason why he is excited for it. "We've got all kinds of people coming, of all ages, some like English and some like Hindi - a mix of all music, some old and some new. I don't usually play at waterparks, so this is quite exciting," he shares.  
Interestingly, apart from amusement parks, the Covid-19 pandemic also made the DJ, who is famous for 'Keh Do Tumhe' among others, pursue other mediums for the first time. Since many DJs couldn't play in clubs due to the lockdown, they chose to play online, and Aqeel quickly adapted. "During the pandemic, I have played online and there were 10,000 people that logged in." With his reputation and popularity preceding himself, it is comparatively easy, especially with clients around the world. The new medium has also given him liberties. While he was busy in India, he was able to play for an audience in the US. So, now whenever he can’t go, he plays online for them. 
On the work front, Aqeel released a new independent track in January called ‘Livin’ Da Vida Loca’ and says he is happy that it has been doing well. "I have done another song with Sonu Nigam now and we plan to release it soon. He's a legend," shares the DJ, who says this isn't the first time he is collaborating with the Indian singer, so we know it is going to be a good one and can’t wait for it. 

Also See: Tina Turner passes away at 83: How the 'Queen of Rock 'n' Roll' took over the world one song at a time

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