Dear Pritam Chakraborty,
First of all I must congratulate you for your music in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. I just love the strains of Kabira and Arijit Singh’s edgy voice makes it sound even more soul stirring. In fact I must thank you for introducing us to singers like Monali Thakur and Arijit Singh whose voices would have remained unheard if you didn’t take the initiative to promote these singers.
But no, this letter isn’t really meant to praise your composing abilities or congratulate you on your recent success. It’s a complaint from a fan who does not understand your need to copy tunes from foreign songs when you have such an innate talent of composing original tunes. Today, in spite of beautiful semi classical songs like Phir Le Aaya Dil or Sufi songs like Tu Jaane Na or the recent folkish Kabira, you are still branded as the guy who “copies tunes”. That is because you have actually plagiarised and copied tunes from Korean and Arabian songs for most of your Bollywood ‘projects’. Thanks to the internet and thanks to YouTube it’s no longer a secret to the world that you have plagiarised and been inspired by the compositions of relatively unknown, international musicians.
But you know something, it’s not entirely or solely your fault. Most leading musicians of the past or those of today have been inspired pretty often by the works of others. The very first example is our great Nobel Laureate Tagore, who has admittedly, composed a few of his songs after being inspired by Baul songs (“Abar tor Mora Gangey”), foreign tunes (“Purano Shei Diner Kotha”) or Hindustani Classical music (“Tomari Gehe Palichu Snehe”). But the end result has been beautiful and thanks to the talent of Rabindranath Tagore, a simple Baul song, sung in the remote interiors of Bengal has been mounted to a much higher platform, to be heard and appreciated by masses from all over the world. Ditto for “film” musicians like S.D Burman or R.D Burman. S.D Burman’s “Tere Mere Milan Ki” was inspired by Tagore’s “Jodi Tare Nai Chini Go” while “Chura Liya” (as the lyrics unintentionally suggest) was also inspired by “If it’s Tuesday this must be Belgium”.
But these were one-off cases where these greats composed the mukhra or the first line after being inspired by another creator. They never copied the song entirely but instead worked on the original tune to create their very own creation with a distinct touch.
But right from the days of Bappi da’s mooogeec, to Anu Malik and finally you, Hindi film music has been looked down upon by most of the youngsters of this country who would rather listen to a Pink Floyd or a Led Zeppelin than a copied item number. While Tagore and the Burmans continue to be appreciated by the urban masses, the ‘new-age’ Bolly songs are only meant for dancing at pubs and nightclubs till they are replaced by some other filmy number. The shelf life of these ‘hits’ have been reduced by a large extent and their acceptance is very limited. It’s but a request to you and your peers from a fan, who truly appreciates your talent, to revive the scene of Hindi film music with original tunes sung by Indian singers who understand the underlying meaning of the lyrics. No mindless collaboration with phoren artists like a Chammak Challo or “Exotic” music videos can bring the English-spouting, cerebral, thoughtful masses to listen to your music. With the advent of the internet, foreign tunes are best heard from their original voices and copying them will not add any credibility to your music. Instead, if you are original and add your very own earthy Indian flavour to your music, it will definitely make it appealing and long lasting because anything that’s unique, original, different and soulful always goes down well with the masses and the classes.
A music lover.