If we get to hear Lata Mangeshkar's evocative Lag Ja Gale Se in the stunning sequel to Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster, it comes with a heavy price. And film producers are poised for a battle with the music company that owns the copyrights of over 95 percent of the vintage film songs.
Getting copyrights of classic film songs for peanuts is a thing of the past. Nowadays producers have to shell out small and large fortunes to get the song of their choice from. Recently, Apoorva Lakhia abandoned plans to use the celebrated Manna Dey qawwalli Yaari Hai Imaan Mera filmed on Pran from the original Zanjeer for the remake and instead decided to record a fresh number to be shot on Sanjay Dutt who takes over Pran's number.
The reason given for this was the exorbitant price that the music company Saregama-HMV expected in return for the song's copyright.
Tigmanshu Dhulia was at the receiving-end of a jolting reminder of how forbidding the cost for song copyrights has lately become when he was forced to shell out a whopping Rs. 30 lakhs for the rights of the Lata Mangeshkar classic La Ja Gale Se from the 1964 film Woh Kaun Thi composed by Madan Mohan.
Says Tigmanshu, "I've always found some melodies composed by Madan Mohan to be absolutely haunting, Lag Ja Gale Se tops the list. It is the most evocative song on the theme of unfulfilled love. So I was keen to use the song in my film Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns. And I did. Little did I know getting the rights would cause a major dent in our film's budget."
Tiganshu says he had no idea getting the song's rights would prove so costly. "We kept shooting and I used the song at several places. I was assured we could get the rights for 6-7 lakh rupees. Finally we were asked to cough up Rs. 30 lakhs. We had no choice but to pay up since I had already shot the song on Mahie Gill."
Tigmanshu had plans of using another vintage song the qawwalli Bade Beshram Aashiq Hain from the 1971 film Putlibai which he hastily abandoned. "After Lag Ja Gale Se I wanted to use some lines from that qawwalli which talks of how a woman was created. But they again asked for Rs. 30 lakhs for this song as well. I had to hastily abandon the idea."
Adarsh Gupta, Business Head of Saregama he said, "Actually we are very clear on the copyright issue regarding our song repertoire. Any producer can buy our songs and use them as and how they desire in their films. But they cannot incorporate our songs in any form in the soundtrack for other music companies. So if they want to include our songs in their CDs then the music rights have to be sold to us. We do not insist on buying the music soundtrack if our songs are used only in the film and not in the soundtrack album."