Earlier Karan had obtained the rights of the song 'Pretty Woman" for Kal Ho Naa Ho fairly easily. This time, too, getting the original copyright holders of 'Jailhouse Rock" to say yes was easy enough.
The nightmare began later.
Apparently, just days before filming, the official contract arrived from the US. To their horror, producer Karan Johar and director Siddharth Malhotra discovered that they were not allowed to use any image, visual, dance step, or even the words associated with the original Elvis song! At that late juncture, everything from the dance steps, to the set to the lyrics had to be changed.
Says Siddharth with a shudder, “The contract arrived just days before shooting. We got to know that we couldn"t use anything to do with Elvis. We had everything ready, the set, the costumes, the songs and words…Most importantly we had images of Elvis splashed all over and we had incorporated the words from 'Jailhouse Rock" into the track. All that had to be scrapped."
For a while Karan and his director contemplated scrapping the song altogether. Says Siddharth, “What is the point of a tribute to Elvis when we couldn"t use his face, his dance steps, even his images as props on the sets? We couldn"t even replicate any of the lyrics from the original and had to rewrite the words on the spot. So what could we use? It was the most devastating moment of the shooting. First Kajol was three months pregnant and we had to change all her steps. Then we had to change everything because we hadn"t read the contract."
Matters got worse when the little girl playing Kajol"s younger daughter suddenly fell sick with chickenpox.
Shudders Siddharth Malhotra, “We had to rewrite the scene explaining her absence in the song. It was a nightmare. And one we"d never like to go through again." Karan has now decided to swear off all foreign copyright-controlled material. In all probability We Are Family will be his first and last Hollywood remake.
As for Elvis Presley, all of the rock legend"s songs are henceforth banned at Dharma Productions.