| Mallika Sherawat on the poster of Murder
It’s daylight robbery in Murder, screamed a cult Bangladeshi rock band, and its plea has been heard.
Miles, a popular music act on both sides of the Bengal divide, has accused Bollywood tune titan Anu Malik of “straight-lifting” elements from one of its original compositions to embellish the soundtrack of the movie from the Mahesh Bhatt-Mukesh Bhatt stable.
After the Bangla band slapped a ‘copycat’ suit on the Murder music gang for “plagiarising the tune, breaks, fillers and arrangements” in the track Jana Jane Jana, Calcutta High Court on Wednesday ordered the song removed from the movie menu.
“The song is not in the film and so, as producers, it does not really concern us,” said Mahesh Bhatt, when contacted on his cellphone. “Also, we had bought the song from Amir Jamal, a Jeddah-based Pakistani and it was only recreated by Anu,” he added.
The writ petition was filed by the Bangladeshi group against the producer, director and music director of the film, besides recording label Saregama India Ltd, for ‘copying’ core elements from its song Phiraiya Dao Aamar Prem. The theme is similar, melodies identical and use of chords the same in both the numbers, claimed the petitioners.
“This is gross infringement of the International Property Rights, as well as the Copyright Act,” said Pratap Chatterjee, counsel for the petitioners. He sought a court order appointing a receiver or special officer to seize the entire batch of soundtrack software from Saregama’s Dum Dum studio.
Justice S.K. Mukherjee, on hearing the petition, took prima facie cognisance of the matter and passed an interim order restraining the respondents from keeping the controversial number (Jana Jane Jana) on the film’s original soundtrack.
The respondents have also been barred from manufacturing, selling, distributing or marketing any music cassette or compact disc containing the song or any other “colourable imitation” of the petitioners’ musical work.
According to legal experts, the court order should also mean that all promos and teasers of the film and song sequences, being aired on television, must be withdrawn.
“The respondents should be directed to disclose upon oath details of cassettes and CDs distributed by them to various vendors and retailers,” the rock band’s counsel demanded.
The petitioners also demanded “total reimbursement” for the expenditure incurred in putting up the case in court from the producers of the movie.
“We have been forced to take the legal route by the film’s producer and the music director’s unethical imitation of our client’s musical work,” said Chatterjee.
Miles’ city label was equally peeved at the “blatant imitation”. Said D.S. Lahiri, proprietor of Asha Audio: “The song appears in our 1997 release Best of Miles Vol. 1. The Murder track has reproduced ditto the entire musical arrangement of the Miles number, including the specific guitar parts.”
S.F. Karim, business manager, Saregama India Ltd, the music label for the Murder soundtrack, said: “We have little role in this, except reproducing and printing what the producer and music director have given us. Had it been non-film music, we would have had a more proactive part in the composition.”
Asked if the song would be removed from the set, Karim said the call was “entirely the producer’s”.