13 Jun 2009

We aren't the only ones who copy!

The two way traffic of plagiarism

These days on waking up in the afternoon (yeah, not morning) and going downstairs to my parents' room (which doubles up as our common sitting room all the time), I am often greeted by some old Bollywood flick on Zee Classic, they happen to be watching at that time. So today, it was a Feroze Khan-Mumtaz starrer Apradh. When I entered still rubbing my sleepy eyes, I was greeted by a cabaret number picturised on Helen, 'Ae naujawan hai sab kuchh yahan'. The tune sounded familiar and soon I found myself humming, 'No, no, no, no... don't phunk with my heart'. Yeah, even I was surprised.
I was listening to a song, an original Bollywood song of 1970's which had been recently recycled by one of my favourite western band, Black Eyed Peas. It seemed as the flow of tide had reversed its direction. So what, if our Bappi Lahiris and Anu Maliks have recycled hundreds of Western compositions into Bollywood hits. This single song had wiped off all their sins. "We aren't the only ones who copy!", I declared proudly to my father.
But still to be on the safer side, I googled to ascertain if both these compositions have not been lifted from some other old Western song. Thankfully, that's not the case. Moreover, I found another website which has documented this curious case of copying. On reading, I instantly recalled that the introductory music of the song, 'Don't phunk with my heart' has also been lifted from another Helen song, 'Yeh mera dil pyaar ka deewana' from Don while the remaining song is the copy of the aforementioned one. Both these original compositions are from Kalyanji and Anandji, the much celebrated India music duo.
To convince yourself, listen the original intoductory instrumental composition from Don, the song from Apradh and finally the plagiarized version from Black Eyed Peas.
Sometimes, it feels quite irritating when I realise that a Bollywood composition I liked a lot and because of which I liked a particular music composer is nothing but a copied version of some American, Arabic or Latin composition. With that the respect for the particular Indian composer goes down (recently happened in the case of Pritam Chakraborty) but love for the particular song doesn't. At that time, I actually realise that music has no language.
However, copying also needs talent. Putting particular words into a given composition can be quite draining. I have tried that myself many a times with my songs (yeah, that's a BREAKING NEWS- I also write songs to waste my time) and it is difficult indeed. But sorry,copycats; can't give you any credit for that. If your job if difficult, even the job of a thief or a robber is. So, you fall in the same category. Better come out with original compositions or...
Or what? We'll have to survive on your recycled songs only. As it is, we can't help but love them;)
Clarification (June 24, 2009)
It has come to my notice that the song 'Don't phunk with my heart' cannot be considered as a plagiarized version because the Black Eyed Peas duly acquired the rights for both the Indian songs from the copyright holders, Sa Re Ga Ma. Nonetheless, it is a copied song, hence this post does not loose the spirit in which it was written.

Images Courtesy:
http://www.pardonmyhindi.com; http://bollystic.com and http://schnoppsoft.de (edited)


Roshmi Sinha said...

Well many believe that the celebrated Steven Spielberg 'copied' the original script of the unmade film "The Alien"... written and to be directed by Satyajit Ray and turned it into the "ET".

"The Alien" was based on Ray's short story, "Bankubabur Bandhu" ("Banku Babu's Friend") which he wrote in 1962 for "Sandesh", the Ray family magazine.

"The Alien" had Columbia Pictures as producer for this planned U.S.-India co-production, and Peter Sellers and Marlon Brando as the leading actors. However, Ray was surprised to find that the script he had written had already been copyrighted and the fee appropriated by Mike Wilson. Wilson had initially approached Ray as an acquaintance of a mutual friend, Arthur C. Clarke, to represent him in Hollywood. The script Wilson had copyrighted was credited as Mike Wilson and Satyajit Ray, despite the fact that Wilson only contributed a single word in it. Satyajit Ray later stated that he never received a penny for the script.

Nobody in Hollywood even talked/mentioned about this blatant plagiarism... Spielberg was instead showered with laurels!

'Satyajit' means "Truth triumphs"... it really was a misnomer in this case... Sadly!

Vipul Grover said...

Yup Roshmi, evn I heard about this incident though not in detail.. theres anothr story related 2 it. Wn Ray went to see Peter Sellers to talk about this movie(must be this movie only, now tht u mention), he was shooting for 'The Party'. Ray was not at all impressed by his acting skills(in the movie, Sellers was portraying an Indian; though personally i liked his acting in d movie). Ray decided against casting Sellers.. Anyways, thanks for sharing this anecdote. And wn Satyajit Ray is involved there cn b no doubt about his genius nd the truth of this incident!

pawan said...

I totally disagree with you about B.E.P. 'copying' the song. they didn't copy, they remixed the songs which were originally from the Indian movies and moreover as you mentioned they brought the rights for the songs too!. While, Bappi da and Pritam are tall faced cheats and slime balls, as they do not give the credits forget about buying rights!

IF that's the case, the B.E.P. made another song, "The Elephunk Theme" which also happens to be a song based on an Tamil song. They brought the rights again!

Sorry mate I disagree with you, I love "Don't Phunk with my Heart" and hate Hindi songs, especially the oldies!

Vipul Grover said...

Buying the rights might give u legal backing but copied is copied and original is original. some musicians use d wrd 'inspired' instead of 'copied', tht doesn't make their wrk original.
as i said in last line, if i luv a song, i luv d song, its being original or copied doesn't make a diffrnce 2 me. same holds true for dont phunk with my heart.
As for ur hatred of old hindi songs, i cn jus advice u 2 refine ur taste buddy:)

pawan said...

Well, I can't completely agree with you! The song was a remix and hence it need not be original!
And as for the Hindi music part, my Mother and sister are a huge fan of it, but somehow I despise it!. I don't usually understand the lyrics (actually, I have acute problems with Hindi, which I will later unveil in my blog, so keep your fingers crossed!) and hence lose out interest for the song!

I can't help it mate!