Who Has Just Won A Rare Copyright Battle
Rajiv Rai who directed hit films like Tridevi, Mohra, Gupt and Vishwatma before migrating out of India after an underworld threat in 1997, is in the news in Bollywood for a very special reason.
A hit R D Burman song Keh doon tumhe ya chup rahun from his father the illustrious producer Gulshan Rai’s Deewaar was “recreated” or re-mixed if you will, without the proper permission of the producer which in this case is Gulhan Rai’s son Rajiv Rai.
The courts have ruled in Rajiv’s favour and the song had to be removed from the new Ajay Devgan starrer Badhshaho by its producers Bhushan Kumar of T Series.
Speaking from London where Rajiv Rai is currently bassed the filmmaker said, “This victory, as you call it, was long due. It was long due for the often-abused ilk in Mumbai’s entertainment world known as producers.”
Rajiv says he grew up respecting the hard job producers have to undertake. “My father Gulshan Rai was an immensely respected figure in thr filma faternirt.. His films like Johnny Mera Naam, Vidhaata, Deewaar and Yudh re-defined the equation between producers and the entertainment industry. I am afraid the kind of respect that my father commanded has gradually waned.
Producers as are fraternity taken for granted and exploited.”
Rajiv says he grew up admiring the producer’s job. “Because of my father I was surrounded by producers. Their job in the making of a film filled me with admiration.This is why I decided to tackle the copyright infringement of my father’s song.I’ve seen how and other producers had to struggle to hold together a film under situations of great stress.For me my father was the helmer of a film. Even when I was directing films for my banner I looked toward my father for guidance and advice. So this victory is for him.”
Rajiv says this is not the first time in recent times when songs belonging to his father’s banner Trimurti Films were infringed upon. “There were several occasions when songs belong to our banner made unscheduled appearances in recent films liks Azhar and Machine. In fact while ripping off my Tu cheez bahi hai mast mast in Machine the film’s team said they had taken the blessings of Akshay Kumar(the leading man in Mohra). The copyrights of Tu cheez badi hai mast mast are with us.How did it help to seek Akshay’s divine intervention?”
The expatriate feels turning a blind eye to copyright infringement is wrong. “In London where I stay I would congratulatory messages from Mumbai for re-mixed versions of songs from mmy father’s banner. ‘You must’ve got a lot of money,’ they said. Well, here is the truth: I got nothing out of these songs that were used. This time I had to fight it out.”
He says he has no problems with Bhushan Kumar and T Series. “They’ve been very nice to . But the way they have brought in the song Keh do tumhe from the backdoor is wrong.”
Adding insult to injury is the quality of the re-mix.
Exclaims Rajeev, “They’ve ruined the original song.Even if they had not, copyright infringement is a serious offence. For years selfstyled religious leaders have gotten away with it because of our feeble laws. I am glad the courts favoured in my favour.It restores my faith in the Indian judiciary.”
Rajiv returns to India soon. “I do want to start a new film in Mumbai.It’s been ages and I do miss being behind the camera. I’ve 2-3 scripts ready. But I haven’t zeroed in on which film to direct next. In the meanwhile there is the tussle over copyrights which I seem to have won.Like I said it is a victory for all producers.