Manoj Muntashir, the Hindi poet and lyricist, has denied all plagiarism allegations made against him over the song Teri Mitti from the Akshay Kumar-starrer Kesari.
Earlier this month, several Twitter users pointed out that a portion of his poem from the 2018 book Meri Fitrat Hai Mastana was similar to a poem by Robert J Lavery which was published in his 2007 book Love Lost: Love Found. Muntashir was also accused of copying a 2005 Pakistani song to create Teri Mitti, which featured in Kesari.
In a video shared on Twitter, Muntashir argued that all work is derivative. “None of my creations are 100% original. File petitions against me and I will respect every decision of the court. (Mughal era poet) Momin’s lines inspired one stanza of the song Teri Galiyan. Tere Sang Yara was inspired by (writer) Firakh Gorakhpuri’s couplets. My own song Teri Mitti has been translated in so many languages but I do not think my name has been written anywhere,” he said in Hindi.
He added, “I am not going to stoop or bend. It is only my talent and hard work that has brought me from the streets of Gauriganj to Rajpath. I am being punished for being a nationalist. Those attacking me must know that it is impossible to stop me.”
In August, the lyricist was called out by members of the Hindi film industry for calling the Mughals ‘dacoits’ in a video.
While addressing allegations against him regarding the song Teri Mitti, Muntashir told ETimes that if it was proved that the song was copied, he would quit writing forever. “If my YouTube videos and retelling of correct history upsets someone, they are most welcome to reason with me. But don’t disrespect a song that has become an anthem for the armed forces. It’s not acceptable,” he said.
Sachin and Jigar, the music composer duo who recently composed the music for the Arjun Kapoor-starrer Bhoot Police, feel the pandemic has enabled musicians to be less dependent on the Hindi film industry, which is no longer the only means of sustenance for musicians in India.
The duo has been composing together since their break in 2011 with an 11-song soundtrack for Remo D’Souza’s F.A.L.T.U. They have provided the music for popular Hindi films such as Shor In The City (2011), Go Goa Gone (2013), Badlapur (2015), Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran (2018), and many more.
While the duo has composed music for films of several different genres, Sachin says he feels most excited about composing for dance films. Jigar, on the other hand, feels every genre is a challenge due to the commercial pressure. “Sometimes, you want to be very artistic but also have to keep in mind the commercial value attached to the film,” he says. There is thus cause to celebrate the fact that musicians can now work outside the confines of cinema.
In this conversation with Silverscreen India, Sachin-Jigar talk about how the pandemic has changed the music industry in the country, the importance of independent music, especially for up and coming artists, their recent single Nahi Jaana, and more.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had an effect on every industry across the world. How has it affected the Indian music industry?
Sachin: “I think the Covid-19 pandemic has taught musicians that you are only as good as your fan base. You cannot wait for a film or commercial opportunity to display your talent; every musician needs to reach out to their fans as an independent person. While we are indebted to the Hindi film industry as a duo, it became clear that it is not the only way to get recognition. Several new artists came up during the pandemic and found their own audience. Musicians have become less dependent on the Hindi film industry now after realising that they can shine even without its help.”
So, should artists focus more on creating independent music?
Jigar: “Any artist should first focus on music and then the medium through which they want to showcase it. Nowadays, it has become easier to find platforms. Your first song might not get many views, but you have to keep trying till you find your audience. Artists need to understand that film music is not the be-all-end-all, it will not necessarily make you famous. In fact, your independent music can bring you that recognition and eventually make all the films you work on famous.”
Speaking of independent music, can you tell us how your recent single, Nahi Jaana, which is meant as a tribute to frontline workers, was conceived?
Sachin: “The song was actually conceived as a very melodious love song. Later, we decided we wanted it to be a tribute to frontline workers. But we did not want to make it a preachy tribute. We wanted to show the personal lives of the frontline workers and how they and their families have sacrificed so much for us.”
Jigar: “Along with that, it is also our step towards making a mark in the independent music market so that in the future, no artist has to depend on big labels or a third person in order to put out their music. It may not be on everyone’s playlist, but if some people give it a listen, that is still a win. That was also the message we wanted to give to other artists through this song.”
What do you feel about the new trend of artists coming up from social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels?
Sachin: “These social media platforms are, in a way, empowering artists. I remember when reality shows would churn out artists like Sunidhi Chauhan and others. Rajesh Roshan sir had told Rakesh Roshan at that time that a lot of new artists were budding and we needed to take note. Now, these newer platforms are bringing that same recognition to those who might never otherwise get it. These people can take out their smartphones, make a 5-minute content, and see their life completely changing because of that.”
Jigar: “It definitely takes talent to make an impression on the audience in 15 seconds. But I look at Tiktok and Instagram reels as entertainment more than art. That being said, even Sachin and I have to constantly evolve and might eventually learn to do this as well.”
How have you and your music evolved over the years?
Jigar: “Evolution is inevitable in this business. We constantly try to do something that we have not done yet. But at times, we also decide to go back to the music of 80s or some other time just to touch upon things we are yet to try, and in my eyes, that is also a way to evolve.”
Sachin: “Jigar and I have evolved as individuals, I feel. We work with a lot of first-time directors and working with them is like a make-or-break situation. The panic we go through to make those projects work, the success, and even the failure has helped us evolve.”
How different has it been to compose music for OTT projects as opposed to big theatrical releases?
Jigar: “Unfortunately, we have not yet composed for a film which was conceived for OTT. So all the music we’ve made so far has been done with theatres in mind. But of course, the songs and music will differ because the outlook of both platforms is different. The audience is different for every platform, and even from OTT to OTT. Apart from the approach, the number of songs will also be different. We have to get there to actually understand how different it will be.”
Which genre of cinema would you say is the most difficult to compose music for?
Sachin: “Personally, for me, working on dance films like ABCD is exciting and it is also a challenge. The background scores and the songs have so much music and movement involved. It is our job to make sure every movement of the performer is captured in the music that we make. A lot of hard work has to go into doing that.”
Jigar: “Composing for any film is a task. We have to get to know the characters, understand what the director’s view is for that character, and on top of that, we need to keep in mind how the audience will perceive the character. So it is a big challenge to score the music and also be happy with it. Sometimes, you want to be very artistic but also have to keep in mind the commercial value attached to the film.”
Sachin: “And sometimes, even if the genre is the same, the music will be different. For example, Stree and Bhoot Police are both horror comedies, however, the films have such different music. It depends on what kind of music the producers and directors want. And it is definitely a task to follow all their directions and also make the music unique.”
What is in store for you in the future?
Sachin: “We have composed music for around four Gujarati films, five Hindi films, and also made a ton of independent music. All of these will be released soon.”
Apple launched its iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro series on Tuesday and Twitter was abuzz after a tune similar to the popular Hindi song Dum Maro Dum was played in the promo video of the new phone.
The promo video of the new Apple phone shows a man delivering items around a city against all odds. The phone advertisement however grabbed more attention from Indians on Twitter when they recognised that the tune playing in the background sounded like Dum Maro Dum. However, the song that is actually used in the ad is Work All Day by Footsie, which samples the 1971 Hindi hit.
The popular song from the film Hare Rama Hare Krishna featured actors Zeenat Aman and Dev Anand. Released originally in 1971, Dum Maro Dum was composed by RD Burman and sung by Asha Bhosle. Besides Aman and Anand, Mumtaz also starred in the film.
Aman expressed her excitement over the tune being featured in the advertisement. The actor told The Times of India that it was such an exhilarating feeling to learn that the 1971 music of Hare Rama Hare Krishna, her debut film, was still so relevant and resonating.
“The film was shot in Kathmandu and frankly, when I heard this song for the first time, I loved it but surely didn’t expect it to become such a mammoth chartbuster,” she further told the daily.
Filmmaker Ken Ghosh was among those struck by tune in the ad. He wrote on Twitter, “Did I just hear a Dum Maro Dum inspired tune at the iPhone launch?”
A Twitter user mentioned how everyone was thrilled by the global recognition for the song. “Dum Maaro Dum song featuring in Apple event. All of a sudden people are OMG Bollywood song has got global recognition. Think they don’t even need a Grammy now.”
Another Twitter user pointed out that the prelude music of Dum Maro Dum is also part of another song, Work all day by Footsie. “Dum Maro Dum song used in Apple iPhone 13 launch event is part of another song Work All Day by Footsie. But the artist has undoubtedly used the iconic Hindi tune,” he wrote, sharing the song on Twitter.
Pulamaipithan, the veteran poet and lyricist, died at a private hospital in Chennai on Wednesday. He was 86.
The poet, popularly called Pulavar Pulamaipithan was known for writing some of the most iconic songs featuring MG Ramachandran, the actor and former Tamil Nadu chief minister. The songs written by Pulamaipithan played a vital role in shaping the public image of the actor-turned-politician.
In his long career in Tamil cinema, Pulamaipithan wrote songs for actors across multiple generations, such as Sivaji Ganesan, Rajnikanth, Kamal Haasan, and Vijay. In memory of the legendary poet, Silverscreen India brings you a list of his popular songs.
1.Naan Yaar Nee Yaar
Pulamaipithan made his debut as a lyricist with this song from the film Kudiyirundha Koyil in 1968, starring MGR in the lead role. Kudiyirundha Koyil, a remake of the Hindi film China Town, became a box office hit and ran for 100 days in theatres. And the song Naan Yaar Nee Yaar earned popularity for the lyricist. The song was composed by MS Viswanathan and sung by TM Soundararajan.
2.Neenga Nalla Irukonum
From the 1975 film Idhayakkani, the song Neenga Nalla Irukonum Naadu Munnera, Intha Naatil Ulla Ezhaigalin Vaazhvu Munera! (You should be well so the country will flourish; the lives of the poor must get better) was composed by MS Viswanathan, and sung by Seerkazhi Govindarajan, TM Soundararajan and S Janaki. The film was a political propaganda vehicle for MGR, and the song was used extensively in political campaigns.
3. Aayiram Nilave Vaa
The song from Adimai Penn (1969), written by Pulamaipithan, was composed by KV Mahadevan. The action-adventure film starred MGR in the lead role. Aayiram Nilave Vaa also marked the debut of legendary singer SP Balasubrahmanyam.
Composed by Ilaiyaraaja, the song from the film Mounam Sammadham (1990) is an evergreen romantic number that features actors Mammootty and Amala. The lyrics are notable for their wordplay, with every phrase ending in the Tamil letter ‘la’. The film was directed by K Madhu.
6. Thendralil Aadidum
Pulamaipithan won Tamil Nadu State Award for writing the lyrics for the historical action film Madhuraiyai Meetta Sundharapandiyan. The 1978 film was directed by MGR, who also starred in the lead role. It has music composed by MS Viswanathan. Apart from Thendralil Aadidum, Pulamaipithan also wrote Amutha Tamizhil, sung by Jayachandran and Vani Jairam.
7. Vedham Nee
The song from Koyil Puraa, the 1981 film directed by K Vijayan features Shankar Panikkar and Saritha. The song had stanzas with different tunes, and Pulamaipithan’s lyrics and the way his words fit the rapidly evolving tune, won him praise. Besides Vedham Nee, Pulamaipithan also wrote the classic Amuthe Tamizhe that was sung by P Susheela and Uma Ramanan.
8. Ethilum Ingu
The song is from the National Award-winning film, Bharathi (2000), a biopic on the life of the poet and social reformer Mahakavi Subramania Bharathi. Composed by Ilaiyaraaja, the song was sung by Madhu Balakrishnan. Pulamaipithan’s poetic lines for the song are so good they are often mistaken for Bharathi’s own.
On August 20, Rolling Stone India released its August issue cover, featuring singers Dhee and Shan Vincent de Paul. In its tweet sharing the cover story, the publication referred to Dhee and Shan as “triumphant South Asian artists” who have been at the “front of erasing border lines with songs like Enjoy Enjaami and Neeye Oli, respectively, released via the platform and label maajja.”
This triggered a massive backlash on social media for sidelining lyricist and rapper Arivu despite his contribution to both songs. Following this, on August 27, the magazine issued a digital cover solely featuring Arivu.
Silverscreen India presents you with this explainer of the various angles of the controversy. We also spoke to authors, activists and researchers to understand the caste politics and business decisions at play.
What was the controversy?
The first point of contention was that Arivu, the independent singer and rapper who wrote the lyrics of Enjoy Enjaami and performed it with Dhee, and co-wrote the lyrics of Neeye Oli with Shan, was not featured in the cover photo nor was he mentioned in the tweet.
Also, while the cover story features multiple quotes from both Dhee and Shan and is peppered with stills from their photo shoot, it includes only one quote from Arivu and no photographs of the rapper.
It is important to note that the hugely-successful Enjoy Enjaami, which was released in March and became a milestone in Tamil indie music, is based on Arivu’s grandmother, Valliammal. It is produced by music composer Santhosh Narayanan, who also composed Neeya Oli.
Reactions it evoked:
Filmmaker Pa Ranjith, a prominent Dalit voice in Tamil cinema and director of the film Sarpatta Parambaraithat featured Neeye Oli, was among the first to speak out against Arivu’s exclusion from the cover.
“Arivu, the lyricist of Neeya Oli and singer as well as lyricist of Enjoy Enjaami has once again been invisiblised. Rolling Stone India and maajja, is it so difficult to understand that the lyrics of both songs challenges this erasure of public acknowledgment?” he questioned.
It is notable that Enjoy Enjaami includes lines that talk about someone not getting credit for their work. Several on social media quoted these lines when expressing their disappointment with the sidelining of Arivu.
Ranjith’s use of “once again” is also pivotal. In June, when DJ Snake remixed Enjoy Enjaami and it became the first Tamil indie song to be featured on Times Square in New York, the billboard failed to feature Arivu and only showcased Dhee and DJ Snake. This drew the ire of many on social media.
However, Arivu himself has not commented thus far on the issue. Salma, poet, writer, and State Deputy Secretary of the DMK Women’s Wing, says one of the reasons he has not publicly addressed the issue could be the potential loss of opportunities in the future. “This is because the upper-caste communities occupy the higher ranks in the business,” she explains.
Salma views the sidelining of Arivu as the theft of an individual artist’s efforts. “In the case of Enjoy Enjaami, the lyrics are pivotal. Arivu’s song is completely from a Dalit’s voice and to take that credit from him, is a form of theft and is unacceptable. This has been the history of the community – either they are oppressed or their voice is suppressed. If Pa Ranjith had not spoken out, many would not have known about this issue.”
Digital cover, a cover-up?
Salma feels the digital cover featuring Arivu is simply an act of appeasement. “After the backlash, they put out a new cover, but it is digital, which is inferior compared to the print edition,” she says.
Activist/writer Shalin Maria Lawrence, who first brought attention to the fact that Arivu was not paid for Enjoy Enjaami, echoes Salma’s thoughts on the digital cover. “The digital cover that they released recently is a hasty cover-up for their blunder after the backlash on social media. A digital cover does not carry the same value as print. This shows that they put in very little effort to appease the discontent,” she says, adding that Arivu was “clearly neglected and sidelined.”
Caste politics and the music market:
Stalin Rajangam, an independent researcher and writer on caste and pop culture, says just as rap served as a voice for the oppressed Black community in the West, here in India, Dalit voices have slowly started gaining attention in arts, literature and research. “Dalit voices are new to our society, as are the things they talk about, and they are grabbing attention in global platforms. Those who want to stay with this trend, want to collaborate with these voices, even if they are not Dalit themselves. While such collaborations are healthy, the problem starts when the non-Dalit collaborator hogs the attention,” he observes.
Salma concurs. “To voice for Dalits is not wrong, but to take their place is. Collaborations are healthy, but the suppression of Dalit identity such as has happened here must be called out. Only when Dalits speak for themselves, will it be truly effective, as is evident from Mari Selvaraj and Pa Ranjith’s films. There is a need for Dalits to represent themselves, and create their own platforms,” she states.
Recognition is important adds Shalin. She points out that Dalit artists throughout history have always been erased and their work appropriated. “Their art either gets discriminated against or appropriated. We’ve seen promising talents vanish due to this. The Dalits of this land have overcome so many challenges over three thousand years to be whether they are today as a community,” she says.
Issues over song credits for Enjoy Enjaami:
Another criticism that emerged was that Arivu is not credited as the lyricist for the song Enjoy Enjaami in the official video’s YouTube description. There was also outrage over the artist listing saying “Dhee featuring Arivu” as people felt that Dhee being credited as the main artist amounted to the sidelining of Arivu.
In an exclusive chat with Silverscreen India, Noel Kirthiraj, CEO and co-founder of maajja, had said that the reason for the artist credits naming Dhee ahead of Arivu goes back to the origin of song. “We asked Dhee to do a song with Santhosh Narayanan as producer. Dhee wanted Arivu to be part of the song. So it was Dhee’s song and she invited Arivu to collaborate, and the credits reflect that. It all comes down to who is the artist that initiated the project – in this case, it was Dhee.”
He also explained that the practice of specifying the lyricist is an outdated one that stems from cinema and music being intertwined in India. In the case of independent music, the lyricist is part of the song as the performing artist, as was the case with Enjoy Enjaami, he had said.
Stalin is not satisfied with the explanation about the song’s origin. The inside information on the song’s origin is not known to outsiders, he says. “I don’t relate Dhee’s voice to the oppressed, but Arivu’s. Enjoy Enjaami is a song about his community.”
For Shalin too the song is about Arivu’s politics, performance and pain. She says it will strike anyone that it is a song from a landless person whose community has been oppressed for ages. “The song talks about the indigenous people of this land, their mutual co-existence with nature, and also their plight, poverty and oppression through caste. It is solely Arivu’s single. He has written the lyrics, performed it and also contributed to the composition of the oppari bit. While we cannot deny Dhee’s contribution and that her catchy voice was also one of the primary reasons the song went viral, she has sung a lot of songs in the past – what stood out this time were the lyrics,” Shalin stresses.
Arivu being neither given credit for the lyrics nor promoted internationally, and the song being recognised as a “Dhee song,” she says, is “nothing but appropriation.”
How can healthy collaborations take place?
While all advocate for collaborations to take place sans caste barriers, there have to be some ground rules to avoid the suppression of the oppressed voices and the appropriation of their work. Salma says the privileged should give space to the oppressed and credit them properly when collaborating with them “because they (the privileged castes) have had the power so far.”
“All you need is a good heart,” she adds and points to veteran composer Ilayaraja who is considered a legend in the field of music. “His caste is not noted, because he has reached a peak. In the case of Arivu, he is a budding artist who is bringing out the voice of the oppressed and should therefore be given due space,” she says.
Stalin also says that when non-Dalits collaborate with Dalits, the former should yield the spotlight to the latter who are not yet part of the mainstream. “Dalits should be given the spotlight since they have not seen it so far. In the case of Arivu, he has done equal work and yet the stage was denied,” he notes.
Shalin adds that there is a need for more representation and participation of oppressed communities in art. Echoing Salma’s call for the creation of more platforms for Dalit voices, she says, “When Pa Ranjith started Neelam Productions, he introduced a lot of new directors like Mari Selvaraj who brought uncompromised, original Dalit-Bahujan content to cinema. I’ve heard that there are more than 10 new Bahujan directors he will be introducing soon. We need more brands and platforms like Neelam.”
“Also, Dalit artists need the proper marketing channels, social media presence and PR teams to market their content appropriately,” Shalin opines.
Salma, Shalin and Stalin all agree that artists from privileged backgrounds should give space to the oppressed and give them ownership of their own content.
After the cover of Rolling Stone India’s August issue, featuring singers Dhee and Shan Vincent de Paul, who released the songs Enjoy Enjaami and Neeye Oli via the music label maajja, garnered criticism for ignoring lyricist Arivu despite his contribution to those songs, allegations surfaced that Arivu was not paid for his work.
Noel Kirthiraj, CEO and co-founder of maajja, said, in an exclusive chat with Silverscreen India, that maajja’s model helps “artists maximise monetisation of the content that’s rightfully theirs and help develop a sustainable income stream as opposed to a one-time token payment.”
He also cleared the air on the various allegations and accusations that have been thrown around with respect to Arivu and his work with maajja.
What triggered the issue:
On Saturday, Rolling Stone Indiapublished a cover story featuring Dhee and Shan. However, Arivu, the independent singer and rapper who wrote the lyrics of Enjoy Enjaami and performed it with Dhee and co-wrote the lyrics of Neeye Oli with Shan, is not featured in the cover photo nor was he mentioned in the tweet that promoted the article.
Many on social media called out the magazine for ignoring Arivu. Among these was filmmaker Pa Ranjith, whose film Sarpatta Parambaraifeatures Neeye Oli. He wrote: “Arivu, the lyricist of Neeye Oli and singer as well as the lyricist of Enjoy Enjaami has once again been invisiblised.”
Enjoy Enjaami is produced by music composer Santhosh Narayanan, who also composed Neeye Oli.
Allegations that Arivu was not paid for his work on Enjoy Enjaami:
As the issue began to blow up, allegations spread that the Arivu was not paid for the project. Writer Shalin Maria Lawrence tweeted, “There is a word that Arivu was not paid for the Enjoy Enjaami project. Not for the lyrics, not for the singing. Nothing. Can maajja deny it?”
Noel replied to her tweet saying, “maajja’s ethos is to empower artists with rights to their songs. This is to eliminate precisely this practice of artists giving up rights for a nominal fee. Artists own the rights & share the revenue earned on an ongoing basis, instead of a token payment. No artists were paid.
This led to several people questioning if this was fair practice and demanding to know how much each artist was paid.
Response from maajja clarifying their revenue model:
When Silverscreen India reached out to Noel to understand how maajja operates, he said, “As we all know, the music industry in India is intertwined with the movie industry. This dependency has led to various practices that have become the norm and are widely adopted. In our view, many of these practices are not in the best interest of the artists in the long run. When you look at the typical compensation model, artists are paid a fee in exchange for rights to their creation – artists are treated as contractors, where the creative work is commissioned under an agreement as work made for hire.”
One of the core principles of maajja, Noel said, is to allow artists to own 100% of their intellectual property. “We do not take over the rights by paying the artists. Instead, we help artists maximise monetisation of the content that’s rightfully theirs and help develop a sustainable income stream as opposed to a one-time token payment. This is a well-established and proven model in the music business in the West as well as in many other industries involving intellectual property,” he added.
Clarification on the Rolling Stone cover controversy:
Asked if maajja was aware of the Rolling Stone cover design and what their stand on that issue is, Noel said the aim of the cover story is not to promote any particular song(s). “The story covers our roster of core maajja artists like Arivu alongside Navz-47, established names like Santhosh Narayanan and the legendary AR Rahman, who is the co-founder of maajja, in addition to Shan Vincent de Paul and Dhee. All artists involved, including Arivu, responded to questions and we had provided press photos at the request of Rolling Stone when they reached out about doing this story.”
Adding that they were “excited by the opportunity to spotlight some of the amazing talent” that the platform has worked with, Noel said that it is “unfortunate” that people drew conclusions without reading the actual story.
Earlier on Thursday, Shan issued a statement saying that he and Dhee were on the magazine cover to promote his album Made in Jaffna and Dhee’s upcoming English debut album, respectively, which he said would be the first independent albums released on maajja.
Confusion over credits for Arivu in the official video of Enjoy Enjaami:
Another criticism that emerged was that Arivu is not credited as the lyricist for the song Enjoy Enjaami in the YouTube description of the official video uploaded by maajja. There was also outrage over the artist listing saying “Dhee ft. Arivu” (Dhee featuring Arivu) as people felt that Dhee being credited as the main artist amounted to the sidelining of Arivu despite his greater contribution to the song.
Noel explained that the practice of specifying the lyricist is an outdated one that stems from cinema and music being intertwined in India. “In movies, one person writes the lyrics, someone else sings, and a different person is seen on screen. So there’s a need for explicitly naming the lyricist. In the case of independent music, the lyricist is very much part of the song as the performing artist. Also credit and YouTube description are two different things. If Arivu is not credited as the lyricist, how come everyone knows clearly that Arivu is the lyricist?”
He also pointed out that for Neeye Oli, which has Tamil lyrics written by Arivu but performed by Navz-47, they have ensured this nuance is not lost in the YouTube description.
“Arivu’s role and contribution to Enjoy Enjaami is undeniable. The YouTube description does not determine whether someone is credited or how someone is compensated,” he added.
As for the reason for the artist credits naming Dhee ahead of Arivu, Noel said it goes back to the origin of Enjoy Enjaami. “We asked Dhee to do a song with Santhosh Narayanan as producer. They were excited and Dhee wanted Arivu to be part of the song. So it was Dhee’s song and she invited Arivu to collaborate, and the credits reflect that. It all comes down to who is the artist that initiated the project – in this case, it was Dhee.”
Several attempts by Silverscreen India to reach Arivu failed. Dhee and Santhosh Narayanan have not commented on the issue yet.
The cover of Rolling Stone India’s August issue, featuring singers Dhee and Shan Vincent de Paul for their songs Enjoy Enjaami and Neeye Oli, drew a lot of backlash on social media for ignoring lyricist Arivu despite his contribution to the songs.
In its tweet sharing the cover story on Friday, Rolling Stone India referred to Dhee and de Paul as “triumphant South Asian artists” who have been at the “front of erasing border lines with songs like Enjoy Enjaami and Neeye Oli respectively, released via platform and label maajja.”
However, Arivu, the independent singer and rapper who wrote the lyrics of Enjoy Enjaami and performed it with Dhee and co-wrote the lyrics of Neeye Oli with Shan, is not featured in the cover photo nor was he mentioned in the tweet.
Also, while the cover story features multiple quotes from both Dhee and Shan and is peppered with stills from their photoshoot, it includes only one quote from Arivu and no photographs of the rapper.
It is important to note that Enjoy Enjaami, which was released in March and became a milestone in Tamil indie music, is based on Arivu’s grandmother, Valliammal. The song includes lines that talk about someone not getting credit for their work. It is produced by music composer Santhosh Narayanan, who also composed Neeya Oli.
Many on social media called out the magazine for ignoring Arivu. Among these was filmmaker Pa Ranjith, whose film Sarpatta Parambaraifeatures Neeye Oli. He wrote: “Arivu, the lyricist of Neeya Oli and singer as well as lyricist of Enjoy Enjaami has once again been invisiblised.” He further said, “Rolling Stone India and maajja, is it so difficult to understand that the lyrics of both songs challenges this erasure of public acknowledgement?”
The music label maajja, founded by AR Rahman, released both songs.
Filmmaker-lyricist CS Amudhanstated that Dhee, Santhosh Narayanan, and Rahman should speak up if Arivu’s “erasure wasn’t a deliberate and blatant move.” He continued, “Otherwise, it will go down as a historical injustice. These are people we believe are on the right side of the good fight, I really hope they do the right thing.”
Calling the incident “textbook intellectual theft and blatant brahminism,” filmmaker Leena Manimekalai also criticised the move and wrote, “It is really ironic that the very songs stolen from Arivu provide a response to and challenge the caste system that is at the root of such sidelining of the artist and exploitation of his work.”
Singer Chinmayi Sripadawrote, “The discussion on Arivu’s treatment isn’t a triviality, nor ‘taking it away from music.’ I truly hope Arivu at least had a contract in place, got paid his due as a creator and is getting the royalties for the insane hits on Enjoy Enjaami and Neeye Oli.”
This is not the first time Arivu has been sidelined. In June, DJ Snake remixed Enjoy Enjaami and it became the first Tamil indie song to be featured on a billboard on Times Square. While the billboard featured both Dhee and DJ Snake, Arivu’s photo was missing.
While Rolling Stone India has not yet issued a statement addressing the exclusion of Arivu from its cover, on Sunday, the publication tweeted pictures of AR Rahman, Arivu, Navz-47, and Santhosh Narayanan and wrote as captions: “(1) AR Rahman-backed label and platform maajja stands apart for its refreshing South Asian-focused approach. (2) Firebrand Tamil rapper, lyricist and composer Arivu who packed a punch in tracks like Enjoy Enjaami and Neeye Oli. (3) Canadian hip-hop artist Navz-47 took the reigns on Neeye Oli, singing and rapping in Tamil. (4) Ace producer Santhosh Narayanan.”
Thimmarusu, the upcoming Telugu film starring actor Satya Dev in the lead role, will be the first film to release in theatres in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana after they reopen following the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Directed by filmmaker Sharan Koppisetty, Thimmarusu is produced by Mahesh Sa Koneru and Yarabolu Srujan under East Coast Productions and S Originals.
In a conversation with Silverscreen India, Koppisetty, who made his debut with the 2018 romantic comedy Kirrak Party, said that the title of his upcoming film is taken from the name of Timmarusu, the prime minister of the Vijayanagara emperor Krishnadevaraya.
“Timmarusu served as one of the pillars of strength of the king, who considered him a fatherly figure. It was during his time that the king expanded his empire. However, later, they had a fallout and Krishnadevaraya tortured Timmarusu. This resulted in the downfall of the king. Until his death, Timmarusu fought for the truth and was honest. In a similar fashion, my film’s protagonist Ram Chandra (Satya Dev) is a lawyer who fights for justice and is not behind money. His character resembles that of Timmarusu. Hence the title of the film.”
Calling the film an investigative thriller, the director added that the plot primarily revolves around the lawyer, who uses his personal money to take up cases and bring justice to his clients. “He gets involved in the investigation following the murder of a cab driver, and the rest of the film follows his pursuit of the truth,” Koppisetty added.
The filmmaker said that his script was inspired by the 2007 South Korean film New Trial, which has the same premise.
The film was shot in Hyderabad in a 40-day schedule from November 2020 to January 2021. Calling it a “real challenge” to shoot amid a pandemic, Koppisetty recalled one of the most difficult sequences they filmed. “We shot at Mozamjahi Market with 200 junior artists. It was the climax sequence and we had to keep the Covid protocols in mind. The shoot went on for about two days and it was the toughest to execute.”
Besides Satya Dev, the film features Priyanka Jawalkar as the female lead, Ajay as an inspector, and Brahmaji as the protagonist’s associate lawyer.
The post-production work is nearing completion and the runtime, as of now, stands at 120 minutes.
While Thimmarusu features no songs, a promotional song was recorded for the film. This song and the film’s background score are both composed by Sricharan Pakala.
Speaking about the release of Thimmarusu, the director said, “We were supposed to release the film in May, but it got postponed due to the second wave of the pandemic. In between, we did get OTT offers, but we chose to wait for theatres to reopen to give audience a theatrical experience, keeping in mind the aspect ratio and the sound designing we did.”
99 Songs, the 2021 Hindi musical romance, co-written and produced by AR Rahman, is a “big advertisement for musical education,” revealed the composer during a Clubhouse session held on the occasion of the birth anniversary of late Samir Bangara, the co-founder of Qyuki, a ‘creator-focused new media company’, on Thursday.
Rahman, who also serves as a co-founder of the company, was speaking in the session titled Artist x Entrepreneur: Balancing Creativity and Capitalism, which was focused on how artists try to strike a balance between the business side of their art and their creativity.
Rahman pointed out that when it comes to art and entrepreneurship, he learned that there needs to be a balance between mind and belief. It cannot be a binary, he said, one has to follow a middle path. He mentioned that qualities such as a leap of faith, goodwill, honesty, and smartness are necessary to conquer the world of entrepreneurship.
Speaking about his film 99 Songs, Rahman said, “It is about every middle-class family where, when a kid says that they want to learn guitar or painting, they are told they can do that, but must also find a job. People don’t believe that those things can be the job. And this happens not only in India but all over the world. Everybody can relate to that. No one has ever made a movie about that and I felt that we needed to make a statement on that in a beautiful and cinematic way, which Vishwesh (director of the film) and Ehan Bhat (protagonist) brought to it.”
When asked how he balances between making the art that he wants and what is demanded of him, the musician said, “As an artist, we all want to do something cool. When it comes to films, they want a particular kind of music and I cannot deny their requests. So I analyse the options I have within that space.”
“But, it’s usually the things that I do for myself that get the most attention. Songs like Humma Humma (Bombay) and Khwaja Mere Khwaja (Jodha Akbar), I composed for myself. When Mani Ratnam heard them, he took them for the films, though they were done for albums. When you create music with the pure intention of art, it sounds much better,” he added.
He revealed that it was Mani Ratnam from whom he learned about making creative work that is artistic and commercially viable. “He made movies that are very artistic and at the same time, even a person who wants to just watch entertaining films can enjoy them. He pulled off the balance from his early days, with films like Agni Natchathiram (1988), and Nayakan (1987). So, you learn from your mentor,” Rahman observed.
Rahman also revealed that he has finished the soundtracks of his upcoming films, including Cobra, Mimi, Atrangi Re, and Ayalaan, all during the Covid-19 pandemic induced lockdown.
The court granted Spears’ request to hire former federal prosecutor-turned- litigator Mathew Rosengart to be her lawyer in the popstar’s ongoing effort to end her 13-year conservatorship which permits her father to take control of both her personal and professional life.
Speaking for 15 minutes in court, Spears emotionally said she wanted an investigation into all the abuse she has undergone. She also reiterating that she does not want her father as co-conservator as she wants to take charge of her own life. She mentioned that she would henceforth refuses to undergo any more medical assessments and called them ‘stupid psych tests’.
“I’m not willing to sit with anybody at this point to be evaluated. I want to press charges for abuse. Instead of investigating my capacity, I want an investigation on my dad,” she said.
She added, “My dad needs to be removed today,” while breaking down during the hearing.
She also mentioned that she wants her state-appointed care manager and conservator Jodi Montgomery to continue in the role.
Along with challenging various aspects of the hearing, Jamie Spears’ lawyer questioned Montgomery’s stay as a conservator after the singer had criticized Montgomery at the June 23 hearing. He also placed on record his displeasure since The court permitted Spears speak at length. “No one else has been afforded the opportunity,” he said.
“Many of her characterizations and memories are just incorrect,” Jamie Spears’ lawyer added.
Earlier, during the June 23 hearing, where Spears gave a 24-minute long testimony, she mentioned that she was forced to use an Intrauterine Device (IUD) to prevent pregnancy. She said she wanted to take out but she was disallowed by her conservators from doing so. Countering the statement, Jamie Spears lawyer argued during Wednesday’s hearing that there is no fixed order that precludes her from making informed medical decisions.
“I’m not sure Miss Spears understands she can make medical decisions and have birth control implanted or not,” Jamie Spears’ lawyer said.
The court has scheduled another hearing on September 29 to resolve a number of issues including the removal of the IUD.
Following the hearing, Spears took to Instagram on the same day, thanking her fans for their support. She acknowledged the #FreeBritney campaign for the first time while sharing cartwheeling and horseriding videos.
She wrote, “Coming along, folks … coming along !!!!! New with real representation today … I feel GRATITUDE and BLESSED !!!! Thank you to my fans who are supporting me … You have no idea what it means to me be supported by such awesome fans !!!! God bless you all !!!!! Pssss this is me celebrating by horseback riding and doing cartwheels today !!!! #FreeBritney”
Soon after, Samuel Ingham, Spears’ lawyer who has represented her from the early months of her conservatorship, was asked to resign from that role on July 7, after she claimed he had never told her she could seek to terminate the conservatorship. The court also granted his request to quit.
In a letter addressed to Spears’ father and her court-appointed care manager Jodi Montgomery, as co-executors of her estate, Rudolph wrote that it has been two-and-a-half years since he last communicated with the pop singer, at which time she had informed him about wanting to take an ‘indefinite work hiatus’.
“Earlier today, I became aware that Britney had been voicing her intention to officially retire,” he continued.
“As you know, I have never been a part of the conservatorship nor its operations, so I am not privy to many of these details. I was originally hired at Britney’s request to help manage and assist her with her career. And as her manager, I believe it is in Britney’s best interest for me to resign from her team as my professional services are no longer needed,” he further said.
Rudolph has been Spears’ main manager since the early years of her career in the 1990s. “I will always be incredibly proud of what we accomplished over our 25 years together. I wish Britney all the health and happiness in the world, and I’ll be there for her if she ever needs me again, just as I always have been,” he wrote.
According to the Deadline report, in 2019, Spears had suddenly pulled out of her Las Vegas residency stating she was going on a “hiatus” citing her father’s health issues.
Rudolph’s resignation comes amidst the court case that 39-year-old Spears is fighting to end her “abusive” 13-year-old conservatorship under her father.
In 2008, at the age of 26, Spears entered into a temporary conservatorship or guardianship with her father following her public meltdowns. It gave her father, Jamie Spears, control over her financial affairs, estate, and her personal life.
Recently, on June 23, the singer addressed the court on the issue of her conservatorship. “I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized. I just want my life back,” she said. It was the first time she spoke on the matter in a long time.
However, a week later, on June 30, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge once again denied Britney Spears’ request to have her father Jamie Spears removed from her conservatorship. The court denied the request observing that it found Spears to be “substantially unable to manage her financial resources or to resist fraud or undue influence.”
Through all this time, Rudolph had remained as her manager and Spears released multiple albums and went on world tours.
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted an interim injunction in the case filed by Sony Music Entertainment against KAL Radio Ltd, restricting the latter from broadcasting any songs copyrighted by the former on their stations till July 2, reported Bar and Bench.
Sony filed a copyright infringement suit against the FM radio company when, following an email back-and-forth between the two organisations in March regarding the licensing of certain copyright protected works, Sony India representatives found that KAL Radio was broadcasting Sony recordings on their various FM stations without seeking permission.
Senior Advocate Janak Dwarkadas appearing for Sony sought urgent ad-interim restraining order on the grounds that KAL Radio did not have a license and, therefore, the act of broadcasting the songs without permit was infringement and immediately actionable, the report said.
KAL Radio, a part of Sun TV Network Ltd group, had obtained certain licenses to use Sony India’s copyright protected work from the Phonographic Performance Limited, of which Sony India was a member.
KAL Radio had first sent an email to Sony India in February claiming entitlement to a statutory license and forwarded a cheque for Rs 64,570. Sony rejected this on the grounds that KAL Radio’s notice did not comply with Section 31-D of the Copyright Act 1957 and returned the cheque.
The Copyright Board in 2010 had determined the license fee in regard to the compulsory licensing regime under Section 31-D which stated that “the broadcasting organisation shall give prior notice, in such manner as may be prescribed, of its intention to broadcast the work stating the duration and territorial coverage of the broadcast, and shall pay to the owner of rights royalties in the manner and at the rate fixed by the Appellate Board.”
In March, KAL Radio had emailed Sony India with their royalty calculation which amounted to Rs 67,514 and a log file of its radio channels which showed that it has been using Sony India’s copyrighted works.
It was then that Sony Music went ahead with the civil suit and claimed injunction and damages.
Abhishek Malhotra, KAL Radio’s representative, tried to reason and stated that “KAL was entitled to use Sony India’s work as per Section 31-D of the Copyright Act the moment it sends a notice and payment.”
Justice Gautam Patel, who heard the case, observed that KAL Radio could not hand-pick the rules that suited it best.
“In effect, his submissions amounts to saying that his client can interpret the statute and the rules as loosely as it wishes, need not conform to the statutory regime, and none can deny his client a ‘right’ to use someone else’s copyright-protected material,” Justice Patel said in response to Malhotra’s submission.
The court then granted an ad-interim injunction restraining KAL from broadcasting Sony’s copyrighted works till July 2, 2021.
Singer-songwriter Billie Eilish on Monday issued a statement on Instagram apologising for using a racial slur in an old video that resurfaced on TikTok at the end of last week. In the video, she is seen lip-syncing a racist slur along with Tyler, the Creator’s 2011 song Fish.
The video also shows the singer apparently mocking Asian accents.
Taking to Instagram, the Grammy winner, who is now 19, explained that she was “13 or 14” in the video in question. “I mouthed a word from a song that, at the time, I didn’t know was a derogatory term used against members of the Asian community,” she wrote. “I am appalled and embarrassed and want to barf that I ever mouthed along to that word,” she added.
Adding that the only time she ever heard that word was in the song, Eilish wrote, “Regardless of my ignorance and age at the time, nothing excuses the fact that it was hurtful.”
The Bad Guy singer also addressed what appears to be her mocking Asian accents in the video, saying that the way she was speaking was a “gibberish” voice she has used since she was a child.
“It is absolute gibberish and just me goofing around and is in NO way an imitation of anyone or any language, accent, or culture in the SLIGHTEST,” Eilish wrote. “Anyone who knows me has seen me goofing around with voices my whole life. Regardless of how it was interpreted, I did not mean for any of my actions to have caused hurt to others and it absolutely breaks my heart that it is being labelled now in a way that might cause pain to people hearing it,” she further added.
At the end of her statement, Eilish, whose second album Happier Than Ever will be out on July 30 on Darkroom/Interscope, requested her followers to “continue having conversations, listening and learning,” and said that she only wants to use her platform “to fight for inclusion, kindness, tolerance, equity, and equality.”
Taylor Swift announced on Friday her next album Red (Taylor’s Version) will release on November 19. Red will be her next re-recorded album of her 2012 original by the same name and will feature 30 songs.
Red was the singer and actor’s fourth album.
Swift accompanied the announcement with a note on Instagram that read, “Musically and lyrically, Red resembled a heartbroken person,” calling is a “fractured mosaic of feelings that somehow all fit together in the end.”
“I’ve always said that the world is a different place for the heartbroken. It moves on a different axis, at a different speed. Time skips backwards and forwards fleetingly. The heartbroken might go through thousands of micro-emotions a day trying to figure out how to get through it without picking up the phone to hear that old familiar voice. In the land of heartbreak, moments of strength, independence, and devil-may-care rebellion are intricately woven together with grief, paralyzing vulnerability and hopelessness. Imagining your future might always take you on a detour back to the past. And this is all to say, that the next album I’ll be releasing is my version of Red,” the post read.
Swift added that she went into the studio and experimented with different sounds and collaborators with mixed emotions, and tortured by memories of past.
“And I’m not sure if it was pouring my thoughts into this album, hearing thousands of your voices sing the lyrics back to me in passionate solidarity, or if it was simply time, but something was healed along the way,” she wrote.
She concluded her note hinting at the song All Too Well from her 2012 album that is ten-minute long, and said, “Sometimes you need to talk it over (over and over and over) for it to ever really be… over. Like your friend who calls you in the middle of the night going on and on about their ex, I just couldn’t stop writing. This will be the first time you hear all 30 songs that were meant to go on Red. And hey, one of them is even ten minutes long.”
Red will be the American singer’s second re-recorded version of her original albums, after Fearless that released in April.
Swift plans on re-recording all her six albums that released from between her debut in 2006 and 2017.
The decision to re-record her albums came after her earlier works were sold to celebrity manager Scooter Braun by Scott Borchetta of Big Machine Records. Swift portrayed her resentment regarding the decision on Tumblr in 2019, calling Braun a “bully” and said that she was “sad and grossed”. Braun later sold the master labels to Shemrock Holdings.
Swift signed with Big Machine as a newcomer and the deal barred her from retaining ownership of her work. She later quit and signed with Record Labels and UMG in 2019.
She owns the rights to her 2019 album “Lover,” 2020’s sister albums “Folklore” and “Evermore,” as well as any rerecorded albums and future releases.
Aditya Tiwari, aka MC Kode, the New Delhi-based rapper who went missing, was found by the Delhi Police in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old went missing on June 2 after posting a cryptic story on his Instagram profile hinting at suicide.
Tiwari went missing following an uproar on social media over an old video that surfaced on Twitter in which he was seen using obscene language against Hindu religious texts. His mother, Deepa Tiwari, had filed a missing person report in South Delhi’s Mehrauli Police Station on June 4 and a case of kidnapping was registered the next day.
According to a report in The Indian Express, Atul Kumar Thakur, DCP (South), said a team was sent to Jabalpur, and Tiwari was found at a friend’s place there.
A senior police officer told the website, “His mother told us he left his home in Saidullajab after posting a suicide note on Instagram. We found that his phone’s last location was in Noida on May 25. It was later switched off. We wrote to social media sites to provide Tiwari’s account details. During the investigation, we found Tiwari was in Madhya Pradesh.”
“After leaving Delhi, we presume he contacted his friend and went to live at his place. We haven’t questioned him yet and our team is bringing him back to Delhi. We will then ask him about his disappearance and how we went to Jabalpur,” Thakur told The Indian Express.
The controversy started after some Instagram handles shared a rap battle video from June 2016 in which Kode made some remarks about the Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata. Following this, he received intense hate on social media with some users demanding him to be jailed for his remarks.
One Twitter user even put a “cash prize” reward to find and bring Tiwari to him.
Soon after, Tiwari posted an apology on his social media page. “I’ve angered a lot of people and that anger is understood and I deeply regret my actions…Currently all my details have been leaked including my address and there is a mass movement of people calling for a mob lynch of me and my family… Also local goons have placed a price on my head too. I am deeply sorry and I request you to please forgive me and spare me and the people associated to me their life,” he wrote.
When the trolls did not stop, he took to his Instagram and posted a story and wrote that his “selfish actions” would cause grief but he wanted to be at “peace” and “safeguard” the people around him.
Fearing that the rapper had ended his life, his friends had launched campaigns and search parties.
MC Kode, the New Delhi-based rapper whose real name is Aditya Tiwari, has been missing since Wednesday following an uproar on social media over an old video that surfaced on Twitter in which he was seen using obscene language against Hindu religious texts.
While the rapper had issued an apology for the same, followers of his private account on Instagram said that he had posted a message on his social media page hinting at mental distress and has been missing since then.
In his Instagram story, Tiwari wrote “Currently standing at an isolated bridge overlooking the Yamuna river where I could see the waves answering my distress call while giving me much needed perspective.” He wrote that his “selfish actions” would cause grief but he wanted to be at “peace” and “safeguard” the people around him.
“I do not blame anyone for anything but myself. A relief from my own existence is gonna serve as a punishment that the entire country wanted,” he wrote.
After this post was uploaded, all his social channels have been inactive.
According to Rolling Stone India, his friends and members of the New Delhi hip-hop community, who have been looking for him along with the police, issued a statement saying, “He has been targeted by mobs and other angry individuals wanting to hunt him down and has had a bounty placed on him by extremist groups instead of following due legal process. Please do help find him using appropriate channels and mobilisation.”
The statement said Tiwari can be identified by his tattoo on his neck that reads ’51’ in bold font.
The controversy started last week after some Instagram handles shared a rap battle video from June 2016 in which Kode made some remarks about the Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata. Following this, he received intense hate on social media with some users saying he should be put behind bars for his remarks.
One Twitter user even put a “cash prize” reward to find and bring Tiwari to him.
Soon after, Tiwari posted an apology on his social media page. “I’ve angered a lot of people and that anger is understood and I deeply regret my actions…Currently all my details have been leaked including my address and there is a mass movement of people calling for a mob lynch of me and my family… Also local goons have placed a price on my head too. I am deeply sorry and I request you to please forgive me and spare me and the people associated to me their life,” he wrote.
He mentioned that he had no income left as three of his gigs were stalled and nine brands had cancelled their endorsements with him.
Tiwari’s followers and friends have been regularly sharing posts and updates regarding the search.
(This is a developing story)
If you or someone you know is in need of support for suicidal thoughts or behaviour, please reach out to the following helpline numbers —
The song is set to music by NR Raghunanthan and sung by Srinisha Jayaseelan. The video features 16-year-old Anikha Surendran falling for an older man – a poet – played by Yohan Chacko.
“What does a kiss on the mouth know about age?” the young woman asks in the song speaking about her love for the poet. She continues to sing, “I want a husband like a father” and “there are some rules that have exceptions in nature”.
The video had garnered over 300,000 views as of Wednesday morning and is part of Vairamuthu’s Naatpadu Theral, a project that will include 100 songs with several hundred technicians including composers and directors.
The description of the video reads, “This is a different song. Yes, this song has an age difference. A song that shows a young woman falling in love with an elderly man, a love that transcends lust. Love does not have eyes. Sometimes, it does not consider age differences either.”
The song been called out by many social media users and prominent personalities, including singer and voice artist Chinmayi Sripaada, for normalising predatory behaviour.
Chinmayi Sripaada, the singer who is a leading voice on the #MeToo movement, wrote, “The concept of sexual grooming falls on deaf ears in this country and here comes something that glorifies this.”
Quoting a couple of lines from the song that talk about the girl wanting a husband like a father, Chinmayi said, “No wonder he had a pattern to the targets he chose.”
V Iswarya, who is a campaigner against the promotion of stalking in Tamil cinema and runs the page Calling Out Stalking, replied to Chinmayi on Twitter, “This perpetuates the same shameful tradition of Tamil songs that have repeatedly fetishized teens (specifically 15-17 y.o.) while men continue to be at least double the age. Perhaps the trope started when child marriage was common, but today it’s disgusting, evil and predatory.”
Speaking to Silverscreen India, Iswarya said, “It is creepy. But this song is not a standalone offender. It belongs to certain tradition in Tamil songs where teens are sexualised. In the past, we accepted such songs because people did get married at that age then. But, to carry over that trope to today’s scenario, in a changed world [where we are having] conversations about how old men are preying on younger women, in that context, it [the song] sounds very regressive and creepy.”
Iswarya added that the “position of the writer” is also a matter of concern. “If we have an actual adolescent making a video about having a crush on a teacher, it is a different issue. It could be considered a legitimate self-expression of a teenager, even though there are problems with that too. But it is a larger problem when a “respected” lyricist facing several accusations for his predatory behaviour creates a song where a teenager is shown to fall for a man much older than her.”
“Now, the pushback is coming from a generation whose values have changed. The song comes across creepy to a generation that considers the patriarchal culture very creepy,” noted Iswarya.
The video shows a young girl falling for an older man and not vice-versa, Iswarya said, “Who does the maker of a piece of art sympathise with? It is important to note the voice of the author. Does the author condemn or endorse it? In the book Lolita, it is very clear that the author wants you to realise how creepy the narrator is when he falls for a teenager. But in this case, the lyrics which suggest wanting a husband like a father make it clear that this man [Vairamuthu] endorses this behaviour.”
Iswarya said that songs from the late MG Ramachandran’s movies always show the [much younger] female actors who imagine romancing him. “These men, in order to gratify their fantasies, and to give themselves a clean chit, used their power to show that it is the women who expressed their feelings for them while they remained clean throughout” she explained.
Lolita is a very interesting example because it’s repeatedly read in the west as an example of the dangers of relating with a morally dubious narrator. Here there’s no such nuance or critical distance. This is straight up male pedophile gaze projected onto a girl w no disclaimer
Besides Chinmayi and Iswarya, many social media users have also condemned the song. Vairamuthu, known to be an ally to Tamil Nadu’s ruling party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), was one among the guests to be invited for the oath-taking ceremony of the state’s chief minister MK Stalin, held recently. Many requested senior DMK party members to take action against Vairamuthu just like they came out against harassement by a teacher in a Chennai school.
Since Twitter is still working, can we all call out Vairamuthu for being the pedo he is? Again?
Several students and alumni of the Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan (PSBB) school in Chennai accused a male teacher of sexual harassment on Monday. The commerce teacher, who teaches at the school’s KK Nagar branch, was arrested on Tuesday by Chennai City Police.
On Sunday, school alumna Kripali on her Instagram stories highlighted the woes of scores of anonymous students and accused the teacher of sexual misconduct during class hours. The teacher was accused of talking to his students in sexual innuendoes, coming to class topless with just a towel wrapped around his waist, sharing pornographic links to his students, asking students to send him their pictures, requesting them late night video calls, “slutshaming” girl students, among other inappropriate behaviour.
In one of the screenshots posted anonymously, a student claimed, “And what is even more disgusting is the sheer number of complaint letters we’ve been sending to the authorities, batch after batch and zero action was taken against him. And some of us were even subtly threatened into silence because he would “ruin our future” if he willed it.”
On Monday, the school issued a statement assuring that it had “zero tolerance towards any behaviour that adversely affects the physical, emotional, and psychological well being of our students”. Stating that the allegations were not brought to their attention, the school said that they would take “suo moto notice” and take address them. The school subsequently suspended the teacher.
According to The Times of India, the teacher was arrested on Tuesday and produced before a court judge. He was remanded in judicial custody till June 8. He was arrested under the POCSO Act Sections 11, 12, under IPC Act 354 (a) and 509, IT Act section 67 and 67 (a). The report also stated that the teacher was earlier nabbed at his Nanganallur residence and detained at the Vadapalani police station for questioning.
As the allegations against the teacher gained momentum on social media, many members of the Tamil film industry expressed solidarity with the students. Singer and voice artist Chinmayi Sripada, actor Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, and producer Archana Kalpathi sought strict action against the teacher. Many politicians, including DMK MP Kanimozhi, writer and politician Jothimani of Congress, called for a probe into the case and swift action to be taken.
Wish parents of students at PSBB to file a case. Not sure how many could do it since they shut their own kids down fearing ‘dignity’ and ‘family honour’. This offenders use to their advantage.
People like Rajagopalan, Ramesh Prabha should’ve been in jail for Child Sexual Abuse
TW: stories of sexual harassment. Rajagopalan, commerce teacher in #PSBB(KKN) is a sexual harasser. Posting this after I have personally verified this with a student from this man’s class. Also posting this to amplify and ensure he gets the punishment he deserves. This is sick. https://t.co/ndJIKrOmN5
— Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli (@LakshmiPriyaaC) May 23, 2021
Sexual harassment cannot be normalised It was heartbreaking to see stories about this commerce teacher in #PSBB As alumni we have to amplify so it reaches the right people to take severe action This is not Ok !Love and hugs to all the brave girls who have shared their stories ♥️
In a statement addressed to the school’s dean Sheela Rajendra, a group of PSBB alumni submitted a list of demands, including the “immediate suspension” of the commerce teacher, who is a faculty member for over 20 years. Other demands included restraining the teacher from taking any classes and not included in academic activities of the school pending investigation, not let him mark/grade the students, ensure “child protection committee” and “gender sensitivity committee” was “suitable appraised”.
Media baron Dayanidhi Maran also called for action.
— Dayanidhi Maran தயாநிதி மாறன் (@Dayanidhi_Maran) May 24, 2021
PSBB, considered to be an elite school in Chennai, was founded by educationalist Rajalakshmi Parthasarathy, mother of actor YG Mahendran (who is also a trustee member of PSBB).
While the allegations gained momentum on Monday, an old video of Mahendran interviewing veteran actor Sowcar Janaki resurfaced. In what may seem to be a problematic stand on the MeToo Movement, the video featured Janaki saying: “It is something that is bothering me. It is degrading and a cheap advertisement, to talk about something that happened in the past, or that would have happened. Is that needed? Whom does it hurt? Your family, husband, and children. It is very bad and since the MeToo business, I have stopped watching TV and reading the news. What is big to prove in this? What respect do you gain as an individual for speaking something in public that happened years ago? I stand for women and I am a feminist but this I won’t accept. It is crap.”
Raamlaxman, the Indian music composer who lent his tunes to popular Salman Khan-starrer films like Maine Pyaar Kiya (1989), Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! (1994) and Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999), died of a cardiac arrest at his residence in Nagpur on Saturday, reported PTI.
He was 78.
He was closely associated with Sooraj Barjatya’s Rajshri Productions and had recently received both doses of vaccination. His son, Amar Patil, told PTI, “He had taken second dose of Covid-19 vaccine, Covishield, six days ago. There was no problem at that time… But when he came home he developed weakness. His parameters were dropping. Doctors were attending at home. He passed away at around 2 am on Saturday. He had a cardiac arrest.”
Born as Vijay Patil, he started out with his orchestra, Amar, and went on to work in the Hindi and Marathi film industries. He got his big break with the 1977 film Agent Vinod.
He was part of the composer duo Raamlaxman until his partner ‘Raam’ aka Surinder died in 1976. He went on to retain the entire name.
His first film was the 1975 Marathi film Pandu Hawaldar and worked in 75 films, including Khan’s Patthar Ke Phool (1991), Humse Hai Zamana (1983), Deepak Bahry’s Humse Badhkar Kaun (1981) and Mahesh Bhatt’s Saatwan Aasmaan (1992).
Barjatya’s Maine Pyaar Kiya earned him the Filmfare Award for the Best Music Director. Songs from the film, including Dil Deewana, Kabootar Ja Ja Ja, and Aaja Shaam Hone Aayi are some of the classic hits.
Several personalities from the Hindi film industry took to social media to pay tribute to the composer.
Ram Laxman, music director of my successful films like maine pyaar kiya, patthar ke phool, hum saath saath hain, hum apke hain kaun has sadly passed away. May his soul rest in peace. Condolences to the bereaved family.
Lata Mangeshkar, with whom Patil frequently collaborated with apart from SP Balasubrahmanyam, wrote:
Mujhe abhi pata chala ki bahut guni aur lokpriya sangeetkar Ram Laxman ji (Vijay Patil) ji ka swargwas hua. Ye sunke mujhe bahut dukh hua. Wo bahut acche insaan the.Maine unke kai gaane gaaye jo bahut lokpriya hue. Main unko vinamra shraddhanjali arpan karti hun. pic.twitter.com/CAqcVTZ8jT
Actor Madhuri Dixit wrote, “My heartfelt condolences to the family of #RamLaxman ji Thank you for your timeless music including some of my most popular songs from HAHK. ईश्वर आप की आत्मा को शांति दे |” #RIP
The man who ruled over our airwaves in the 90's with his melodious compositions, Shri Vijay Patil, a big loss for Indian Music, My sincere condolences, Om Shanti 🙏#RamLaxmanhttps://t.co/2iTmQWAqF6
— Nila Madhab PANDA ନୀଳମାଧବ ପଣ୍ଡା (@nilamadhabpanda) May 23, 2021
Chinmayi Sripaada, the Indian playback singer and one of the forerunning voices of the MeToo Movement in south India, received positive response and support from her fans after she hosted a virtual music concert on Twitter on May 16.
Fans began to show solidarity with Chinmayi, who is currently facing a ban by the South Indian Cine, Television Artistes, and Dubbing Artistes Union soon after she came out in October 2018 about the sexual harassment she faced in the industry.
This woman is an angel. Noone deserves what she’s been put through for all these years. It is painful and enraging to see people in power still keep her off work. It is a crime to be deprive us all of this beautiful voice and her music. #WeWantChinmayiBack@Chinmayi ❤
Using the recently introduced feature which lets Twitter users have group audio conversations, the singer, who predominantly works in the south Indian film industries, conducted a music marathon where she accepted song requests from her fans. With over 2,000 people participating in the session that ran for more than six hours, Chinmayi also interacted with her fans and talked about her experiences in the part of MeToo Movement, her dubbing career, and her fondness for languages. Filmmakers, including PS Mithran and CS Amudhan, who supported her during the MeToo Movement, were also part of the session.
Despite facing technical glitches and several reboots, the not-for-profit session witnessed listeners lending their support to her. Several called out the treatment and boycott that Chinmayi has been receiving from film industries after her involvement in calling out sexual harassers publicly.
In October 2018, as the MeToo Movement gained momentum in India, Chinmayi called out lyricist and poet Vairamuthu for harassing her. Since then, she has been been vocal about sexual harassments on social media. She has also been banned by dubbing union’s president and actor Radha Ravi in 2018 citing “non-payment of subscription fees”. She said she was singled out and terminated from the organisation for non-payment, though there were 95 other artists who had subscription fee dues.
Chinmayi thanked her fans for making her concert trend.
I am truly grateful to those who popped in to the Spaces yesterday. Sorry to those who were disappointed about Requests not getting accepted. I was genuinely not able to.
I didnt realize this became an India trend.
Lloyd Price, the American R&B singer, died at a long-term care facility in New Rochelle, New York. He was 88.
According to a report by Associated Press, his wife confirmed on Saturday that the vocalist had died of diabetic complications on Monday.
Price was best known for songs like Lawdy Miss Chawdy. According to Variety, the Louisana-born singer emerged in the national scene following the release of the song. It also made it to the No 1 position on the R&B chart. The song sold over one million copies and was covered by other popular singers like Elvis Presley and Little Richard.
Some of his other famous songs included Stagger Lee and Personality.
Nicknamed Mr Personality, Price experienced a brief lull in his career when he was drafted into the army in 1954. In 1956, he founded his own label KRC Records before going on to sign a successful deal with ABC-Paramount in 1958.
Price also ventured into other works such as building low-income housing and marketing a line of Southern soul food.
According to theNew York Times, the singer was born on March 9, 1933, and was one of 11 children. As a child, Price used to sing in the gospel choir at the family church and he also played the piano and trumpet.
Price was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Condolences poured in for the late singer on social media.
Maxwell Entertainment owner Rickey Poppell condoled his death on Facebook. He wrote, “Lloyd was one of the sweetest, caring and kindest man I’ve ever known, I’ll miss him.”
RIP Lloyd Price. Very important part of Rock history. He was BEFORE Little Richard! Lawdy Miss Clawdy of 1952 has a legit claim as the first Rock hit. (Fats Domino on piano). Had the pleasure of hangin with him on the “Oldies Circuit” in ‘73. Righteous cat. Enormous talent. https://t.co/Jv1UYjassF
He also appeared in the 1996 Oscar-winning documentary When We Were Kings.
Despite keeping a low profile in the latter half of his life, Price authored a collection of essays titled Sumdumhonky in 2015. He released his final album This is Rock and Roll in 2017. Price is survived by his wife Jackie Battle and five children.
There was a day in 2012 when Sunny Mathew walked into his house in Pala, a town 146 kilometres from Kerala’s capital city of Thiruvananthapuram, to realise that his house was choking with shellac records and gramophones.
In the past, he had ignored repeated pleas from his family members to clear the space. Now, he realised that he had no choice but to create a few rooms or a building to host his expansive collection.
A year later, Sunny realised the worth of his collection at an exhibition-cum seminar in Kozhikode as several people displayed an interest. Based on their response, Mathew decided to go construct extra rooms.
On January 25, 2015, Sunny’s Gramophone Museum and Records Archive opened its gates to visitors. It became the first andonly museum dedicated to the history of records and gramophones in India. The three-storey museum has 1,10,000 records and more than 260 gramophones, recording models and guest rooms for visitors.
Collecting such antiques is an investment with no monetary returns for Sunny. He takes care in preserving these musical parts of history. The museum building is covered with reflective glass and packed with de-humidifiers.
Till 2012, Sunny worked as divisional manager at the Kerala Forest Development Corporation. Now, he is a full-time collector, repairer of gramophones and museum owner.
His interest in gramophones was initiated at a flea market in Madurai in Tamil Nadu, he says.
Broken machine, inquisitive mind
“I was working in a place near the Tamil Nadu border in the mid-80s and the closest town to travel to was Madurai at that time. I did not have much to do and visited a flea market. This is where I saw a gramophone with a couple of missing parts in the fixture of the external horn. I was interested in carpentry and had the experience of working with machines in the past. Seeing the gramophone there however, left me interested in the device forever,” Sunny says.
Over the years,he added rooms and cabinets for his growing number of records and gramophones. In 2012, the house was overflowing with timber, air-tight almirahs. Many people encouraged him to pursue the latent idea of a museum.
The swanky museum shares a common wall with his house and his life. The house faces south, while the museum with the ultra-modern exterior, housing antiques faces east. The entrance to both the buildings are separate.
Unlike the arrangement of collections at his home, the collection in the museum is strategically divided. The first two floors arededicated to records and books, while the top floor showcases some of the oldest gramophone models.
Over time, Mathew says he has amassed a collection ofprecious records. This includes six record albums of Mahatma Gandhi from 1948, Netaji’s and C Rajagopalachari speeches. He has records from 1898 and 1899 in his collection too.
The top floor of his museum has a collection of spare parts of gramophones which he collected from Seethaphone Company (established in 1923), a Bengaluru-based firm that was assembling gramophones from imported parts.
He also owns record sets of Bengali dramas like Bilwamangal (directed by Rustomji Dhotiwala), and Ali Baba from the 1910s, in sets of 16 and 17 records.
Sunny says that is important to be passionate and informed when running a museum. However, it is also important to have money and climate on your side, he says.
“I once remember my German friend asking me how I have maintained my museum in a place like Pala. It is very wet and humid here. One needs to control the temperature inside the museum to maintain the records and gramophones for a long time. Hence, I turned to fixing an air-conditioner and a de-humidifier. This expenditure is fairly expensive,” he says.
Initially he didn’t charge entrance fees from visitors, but realised that people were unwilling to contribute towards the maintenance in the donation box kept at the entrance. “They only came here to click selfies,” he says.
The curator soon decided that the best way to go would be to book slots in advance for groups genuinely interested in the collection.
“A part of the running cost is met from donations from visitors. Since the expenses is to be met from my pocket, it was becoming hard to maintain. The frequency of opening the museum was reduced from keeping it open for seven hours through the year to about 100 days in a year. This further reduced to 52 days. Provisions for opening on pre-appointed time and date was implemented. This helped reduce the electricity and cleaning charges,” he says.
The cost of buying and maintenance has deterred people from buying gramophones in the past. It is one of the main reasons why owning gramophones has never been accessible to people from low-income backgrounds, he adds.
Going back in time
“In my childhood, people used to go to the cinema theatre compound just to hear the records, which was played before the screening of the film. In school and up to the 12th standard, our educational institutions also played records through PA systems. Music was a very costly thing. It was a luxury to own a gramophone, an envious possession till the 1960s,” says Sunny.
According to him, in the 1900s, the price of a three-minute song record was equivalent to the price of at least 80 cents of land. Although single side disks were utilised most often, double-sided ones became the rage in 1907. The price of a record varied between Rs 2 and Rs 5. In 1914, gramophone companies introduced cheaper records which cost Rs 1.25.
When World War I broke out, the import of records to India stopped. The cheap label was withdrawn and for the next 15 years and the Gramophone Co Ltd had a monopoly in India. Things changed in 1928, with an influx of new companies and the 1930s witnessed a music boom in India. But things went back to their former self with the start of World War II, he says.
In 1942, the cheapest HMV model gramophone cost 50 months’ salary of a school teacher in India, he says. In the next 10-15 years, prices came down and a primary school teacher could buy the same gramophone model with five months’ salary. Only in the 1950s, middle-class families had access to gramophones and recorded music, he adds
Sunny is interested is in records made both before and after 1947. “The monopoly of the Europeans ceased to exist and the economy became better. Many Indian music companies began entering the market and selling to Indians who had better purchasing power. The record industry was always dominated by the upper-middle classes and elites. It failed to forge its way into a common man’s life,” he says.
Over the years, the cost continues to remain high. Shellac records which cost Rs 5 in 1985, now cost Rs 300 to Rs 1,000. Sunny says he stopped buying them when the cost touched Rs 100.
“Now, I buy records occasionally. Recently, I bought an 1896 record from an auction in the USA for $150 dollars. I spent this amount since this record belongs to the first year of introduction of shellac records, Berliner’s Gramophone record,” says Sunny.
But such purchases do not happen too often, he adds.
Sunny discusses the availability of records and their history through a WhatsApp group meant for gramophone and record enthusiasts.
This includes people like Mohammad Shafi, who has aided and fuelled Mathew’s passion. Shafi runs an exhibition-cum-repair shop for gramophones and musical instruments in Wayanad, Kerala. He has been repairing gramophones for the last 20 years.
“I have known him [Sunny] for 15 years. One day, he visited my shop and asked around. Then we became close friends. I collected many items for him. I have sent some 1,000 records to him. I was there when he was making the museum,” recalls Shafi.
Both these enthusiasts have travelled across the country, looking for gramophone models and records.
During a work trip to Kolkata, Sunny recalls finding a record with the sticker ‘November 8, 1902; sung by Soshi Mukhi and Fani Wala’.
“I don’t think anybody else has a copy of it. A recording engineer had come from England to India to amass a collection of voices from the subcontinent but none of the professional singers back then wanted to be recorded for a gramophone single. They thought it was beneath them. Two days later during a reception given by a landlord, the recording engineer met famous singers- 14-year-old Soshi Mukhi and 15-year-old Fani Wala. This resulted in the creation of this record,” says Sunny.
Such trivia has become part of Sunny’s life. He likes narrating these to most of his wide-eyed visitors, who are stunned by his attention to detail.
Even though the museum is currently closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he still cleans and maintains it with the hope of opening the gates soon. He has also started virtual live streaming programs online showcasing old records and gramophones. “When you do it as a hobby, you will never get tired. It will give you more energy,” he signs off.
Shravan Rathod, the veteran music composer of the Nadeem-Shravan duo, died in Mumbai on Thursday due to Covid-19 related complications. He was 66.
After testing positive for Covid-19, Rathod was admitted to Mumbai’s SL Raheja Hospital on Monday in a reportedly critical condition and was put on a ventilator.
According to the The Indian Express, Rathod, his wife and two sons tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar. While his wife and elder son are undergoing treatment at the Seven Hills Hospital, Andheri East, Mumbai, his younger son is in home isolation.
Nadeem Saifi, the other half of the music composer duo, told Bombay Times, “My Shanu is no more. We have seen an entire life together. We saw our highs, we saw our lows. We’ve grown up with each other in many ways. We never lost touch and no physical distance could ever separate the two of us. I am in deep pain as I say this but my friend and my companion, my partner of so many years is no more. It has left such a vacuum. I spoke to his son who was inconsolable. We had been in touch on a regular basis for the last several days when Shravan complained of ill-health and had to be moved to a hospital.”
Nadeem-Shravan were known for their hit Hindi film compositions in the 90s. Best known for their work in Aashiqui, Saajan, Pardes, Raja Hindustani, Dilwale, Barsaat, Jeet, Raaz, the duo frequently collaborated with singer Kumar Sanu and came out with popular songs like Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahin, Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke, and more.
However, the duo split in the mid-2000s, and later reunited to compose music for David Dhawan’s Do Knot Disturb in 2009.
Many celebrities took to Twitter to mourn Rathod’s death.
Actor Akshay Kumar wrote on Twitter: “Nadeem-Shravan created magic for many films in 90s and later, including Dhadkan that has remained legendary in my career.”
Actor-producer Ajay Devgn wrote: “Shravan (and Nadeem) walked 30 years alongside me in my career with the evergreen album for Phool Aur Kaante.”
Producer Boney Kapoor, who had worked with Rathod in films like Judaai and Sirf Tum, shared his condolences and wrote he shared some beautiful memories with the late composer.
Deeply pained to hear of the demise of music Director Shravan. Have wonderful memories of working with him for the music of Judaai & Sirf Tum My heartfelt condolences to the family. RIP 🙏🙏🙏
Singer Shreya Ghoshal also expressed her shock over the news.
Shocked to hear the news of Shravan ji (of Nadeem Shravan) passing away. A genuine humble human being and one of the biggest composers of our music industry. Another huge loss in this pandemic. God give strength to the bereaved family. Rest in peace.
Shravan bhai is no more🙏 My respects and condolences to his family.
Nadeem-Shravan have given us some of the biggest hits in the 90s.
Covid has taken so many lives. Don’t know when will this end…Really saddened by this news.
Extremely saddened by the tragic news of legendary Music Composer Shravan ji’s (of Nadeem/Shravan fame) demise… He was not just an incredible composer but also possessed an ever loving soul & a beautiful heart.
May he rest in peace…🙏 pic.twitter.com/rEBI8zkfOb
If songs can be taken out of context, and perhaps only songs can be, Chingari koi bhadke to saawan use bujhaye/ saawan jo agan lagaye use kaun bujaye would be the best bet to do so. Anand Bakshi’s lyrics, Kishore Kumar’s voice and RD Burman’s music make this song from the film Amar Prem one of the most precious musical gifts.
However, the desire to wrench it out from its original context of a tender relationship between Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore’s roles is a tempting one. The thought was triggered by an accidental and fleeting presence of this song in an unlikely quarter, the 2003 Pakistani film Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters).
Based on the regime of General Zia Ul Haq from the late 1970s through the 1980s, the film is a critique of the move to make Pakistan an intolerant nation. The resonances of this film to our times are disturbingly real, and they also bring a realisation that we seldom manage to show the courage this film does. The song appears in this film at a time when young Saleem has been recruited into a radicalised Islamic group. The young men leading the campaign to make Pakistan pure, free from infidels and corrupting influences of other religions are products of the muscular nationalism introduced by General Zia Ul Haq.
The rhetoric of this new nation-in-the-making and ordinary people’s concerns with onions and wheat, with faint notes of songs playing in the background make for fascinating scenes in the film. During one such moment, Saleem joins his new friends on a visit to Lahore. Heady on both a masculine abandon and religious zeal that fills their aimless lives with a purpose, the four of them reach Lahore. Saleem is a village boy, hence distracted by shops in Lahore. Outside a shop, a television is playing the song Chingari koi bhadke.
The song has barely begun, when another image supersedes to hide it. It is the picture of General Zia, and a caption that says “the right man, the true Muslim.” The camera then immediately moves to the interiors of a large mosque where fiery speeches about making Pakistan a complete Islamic nation are being made, and women are warned to stay away from television. This quick, almost imperceptible and fleeting shuffle of meanings, sounds and images amid a busy street in Lahore cannot be without significance. Why this song, I wondered, and while its philosophical potential was always evident, it is its political meaning that unfolded through Khamosh Pani.
The song from Amar Prem sets up a series of oppositions between those who are meant to guard, save, rescue, but end up in fact doing precisely the opposite – burn, assail, hurt. The ecology of nature is such that a spark can be extinguished by the rain, but there’s nothing you can do if the rain becomes the destroyer. When autumn ruins the garden, spring makes it better again. However, if the garden is ruined by spring, who will make it better?
When heads of state and institutions, that are meant to protect citizens, become the destroyers of the state, where does the court of appeal lie? Who can save destruction from the protectors? The song has suddenly acquired a new significance in authoritarian regimes.
Meanwhile, cinema posters and snatches of lyrics often appear in filmic background hazily, almost like whispers, challenging us to hear them, along with loud announcements.
In yesteryear’s black-and-white films, it is not uncommon to see hordes of migrants leaving villages in search of a better life in cities. What I strongly felt while watching the 1957 film Naya Daur is how brutalised the lives of the poor have been, and how songs and mythologies help differentiate existing from survival.
The film’s famous song Saathi Haath Badhaana, when sung collectively, creates a humming environment in which inequities of labour and capital get contained in a chorus.
Even today, the songs of Naya Daur are the most sought-after ones on All India Radio. And at least three references to them in recent times made me reach out the film.
As students of literature, we were taught how an epic differs from a lyric or novel. The difference of genre, we learnt, was not of size or mode, but of the nature of ambition driving each. How to tell a story that did not separate the individual from the collective, the forest from the temple, the road from the pond, the economic from the social, and remained both political and metaphysical all the way through?
The encounter with an epic is always troubling. That’s the feeling that Naya Daur has left me with. I braced myself to tolerate some precious idyllic village life but was left wondering how I had spent half a century in India without watching the film. The answer may lie in an uncertain familiarity with certain films that feel like they have already been watched and known, for there is so much lore around them. It’s like living those episodes of childhood which you never know for sure actually happened, or heard them being described once too many.
While watching Naya Daur today, it’s difficult not to appreciate the burden cinema took in a newly-independent India, of articulating the ‘national’. Yet, in an astuteness that is characteristic of popular cinema, it both consolidated and pushed back the ‘national’.
Naya Daur begins with Gandhi’s words on the use of machines and how they cannot be allowed to replace the human hand. It ends with the protagonist Shankar (played by Dilip Kumar) asserting that he was not against machines, but find us a world where we and the machines can co-exist. This vision, a compromise between Nehru and Gandhi, a modernity that needs its edges to be softened and a tradition that needs to be respected for simply exitsing, is cinema’s negotiation. This vision has memories of colonialism and Partition built into it.
Shankar tells his ‘enemies’ in the neighbouring village that two brothers living in the same house may fight, but they will unite when pitched against an outsider. Cinematic memory of Partition is often made through these filial metaphors. Elsewhere, he says, it’s not hard work that matters to us; we did it for someone else, we will now do it for ourselves. The ‘someone’ else may well be the white coloniser. India in the 1950s was already fighting against itself. The internal enemy also appears as a hybrid compound of a new urban westernised capitalist aided by a wily Brahmin.
Through all layers of the political and economic is the most beautiful romance between Shankar and Rajni (played by Vyjayanthimala). Their duet Maang Ke Saath Tumhara is one of the most melodious odes with OP Nayyar’s classic horse-tapping rhythm.
The delightful song comes amid backbreaking labour. Reshmi shalwar kurta jaali ka in the song’s lyrics is almost a symptomatic reference to cinema itself, which appeared like a song in the middle of a laborious day for the working class. This is not cinema of today, but it is also cinema of all times in another sense.
If melodies, memories, and inequalities are universal, Naya Daur belongs to every era, not just old or new.