Song writers want credit and loyalty for inspired film titles

  • Navdeep Kaur Marwah, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Jul 17, 2013 02:36 IST

Bollywood actors Girish Taurani and Shruti Haasan during the music launch of their film Ramaiya Vastavaiya in Mumbai. (PTI Photo)

A whole bunch of upcoming films have titles lifted from popular songs, and lyricists are in no mood to take it lightly. Some of these films include Prabhudheva’s Ramaiya Vastavaiya, David Dhawan’s Main Tera Hero, Hrithik and Katrina starrer Bang Bang and Subhash Ghai’s Kaanchi. While Ramaiya Vastavaiya is taken from a popular song from Shree 420 (1955); Main Tera Hero is taken from the lyrics of the track, Subah Hone Na De, from Desi Boyz (2011).

While experts feel this only shows the lack of originality, song writers say it’s high time the industry gave them due credit and royalty. “Movie dialogues and songs do become the language of the people and strike an instant connect, but I think intellectual property practices in India should be more well-defined. For example, my song, Sasural Genda Phool, later became the title of a TV show, but I didn’t get anything for it or for Masti ki Paathshala (borrowed from his song in Rang De Basanti), also a TV show. “No one seeks permission before using these,” says lyricist Prasoon Joshi.

Song writer Swanand Kirkire agrees. “Lyricists should be given their due because it is their creativity, after all. Kam se kam credit toh milna hi chahiye! The copyright laws and their implementation should be made stronger in India.”

Filmmakers have a different take. “We only need to register the title with the film association. Aise toh kitne phrases hai, for example, ‘Deewana main deewana’ is a general phrase which can be used as a movie title and is also part of many songs. How many phrases can you copyright?” says a producer, wishing not to be named.

Bang Bang
Song: Zamana Bole Bang Bang from Hello (2008), featuring Salman Khan
Upcoming movie: Starring Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif

Main Tera Hero
Song: Subah Hone Na De from Desi Boyz (2011), staring John Abraham and Akshay Kumar
Upcoming movie: Starring Varun Dhawan, Sonam Kapoor and Ileana D’cruz

Ramaiya Vastavaiya
Song: Ramaiya Vastavaiya from Shree 420 (1955), picturised on Raj Kapoor and Nargis
Upcoming movie: Prabhudheva’s directorial venture, starring Shruti Haasan and Girish Kumar

Song: Kaanchi Re Kaanchi Re from Hare Rama Hare Krishna
Upcoming movie: Subhash Ghai’s film starring Rishi Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborty, Mishti and Kartik Tiwari

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Song: A Kishore Kumar hit from the 1972 film Jawani Diwani, picturised on Randhir Kapoor
Movie: The recent Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone blockbuster

It’s complicated!
Legal expert Tajinder Pal Singh, who has represented AR Rahman, says, “There is a very thin line. If a song is used in a film in the same way that it had been composed, then the copyright has to be given to all the people involved, including the lyricist. But, if there is no direct or indirect reference to the original composition, then the generic phrase has no copyright implications unless it has been registered by the lyricist as a movie title as well.”


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