It was my third day at the school, and I remember having come home crying, because I had flunked a simple class test. My mom couldnt understand why that happened, because I was nearly good at alphabets and figures, and had prepared so well for the test. It was then that I told her, how unflinchingly I had copied all the answers from my neighbors notebook! Since then, I have been of this belief that, in life, you achieve success by dint of brains and creativity, than borrowed ingenuity. So, I decided never to cheat or copy, and happily went on with my life joggling in the groove of my beliefs. Now imagine the stunned plaintiveness with which I receive tidings (almost everyday) of my fave Hindi songs being direct lifts from sources far and wide. The latest buzz is that of Karzzzzs Soniye je tere naal being a copy of Punjabi folk song sung by Kulwinder Kally, which he claims to have recorded with T-Series about four years back. And not too long ago, Himesh Reshammiya had proudly declared in one of the interviews that all the songs except Ek haseena thi in the film are originals.
Jab We Met
The last time it was the songs of Jab We Met that had come under the scanner for plagiarism. All the compositions turned out to be absolute lifts of some foreign ditties, while Pritam was declared the undisputed crooning copy cat. When I compared the original track (called Di belakangku by Peter Pan) with Pritam Chakrabortys Aao Milo Chale, I was shocked because every sinew of this Indonesian song sounded the same as its Indian version. Then the revelation, that almost all of Pritams songs are brazenly copied from bizarre sources, was like a blow to me. And to think that, I used to like this guys music! I had simply drooled on his composition O Meri Jaan from the movie, Life in a Metro, whose opening guitar notes have in fact, been strung by the band called Queensrche in the album, Silent Lucidity.
In another startling revelation, one of the websites claimed that R.D. Burmans song Mehbooba Mehbooba (that by itself has umpteen remixed versions) is a rip-off of the song Say you love me by Demis Roussoss. The website (www.itwofs.com) also points out to the evergreen melody, Tumse Milkar, (my personal favourite) of being on the same music wavelength as Leo Sayers When I Need You. Several such Hindi numbers (which I have been humming and munching on since my salad days) have been identified as brazen lifts from foreign sources.
Down south, its the kingpin A.R. Rahman who has been lilting and lifting the tunes of music heavyweights like Yanni, Paul Young, Peter Gabriel, and Deep Forests. Remember the song Yeh Haseen Vaadiyan (Roja) that made you sit by yourself in a haze of nostalgic bliss. Turns out that the crescendo of the song is a dead ringer to Yannis track, Quiet Man, from the album In The Mirror.
Well, seems like Bollywood is not looking too far in its bid to reproduce the original numbers. The latest source of the copied songs seems to be Pakistan. To give an example, you can trace the roots of the song, Kaho Na Kaho (Murder) back to Tamally Maak, an Arabic composition.
Agreed that plagiarism is not new to Bollywood and it has been thriving since its inception. A few years back, it was the remixed numbers of the old Hindi songs that had put a big question mark on the originality factor. Also, rehashing the popular folk songs was one of the emerging trends in Bollywood not too long ago. Remember Vikrant Kapur (Anil Kapoor) in Taal who spun popular folksy tunes to the modern beats, and earned quick bucks and instant fame in the process. Does that mean that we genuinely lack the creativity to produce good music? Why is it that every wannabe music director wants to become successful by cashing on the popularity of an already successful album? Why does one have to look elsewhere for the "inspiration", "creative muse", "influences", and what have you? When the Bollywood music czars send out messages to the music-buying public so that they buy original stuff, cant they turn the searchlights inwards to belt out some original music?
Today Indian music albums reach out to people far and wide. Its no longer possible to bamboozle the audiences who are completely aware as to what is original and what is not (if the revelations and comments in the given websites, are anything to go by). Its time that the Indian musicians wake up to this fact and pull up their socks by bringing a whiff of originality than being pulled out of the competition! PS: No part of this piece is lifted from any source!
About the Author
Pooja Nair is a movie buff and a writer by profession. She is a sharp observer and follows the trends in the industry closely since her days as film reporter. She now works as a technical writer in a leading IT company.