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2007 saw him reaching the pinnacle of success with four successful albums in a row - Life In A Metro, Jab We Met, Bhool Bhulaiyaa and Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal. However, as has been the case with the prolific composer ever since he created 'dhoom' with 'Dhoom Macha Le' [Dhoom], his career has been mired with charges of plagiarism month after month.
Though the composer had admitted about his source of inspiration and reasons behind similarities in a few cases, some of the recent developments have left him completely baffled, shocked and above all disappointed! Reason? He has been charged with lifting from a Bengali song for one of his compositions in Magna Films' Bhram when the fact is that Pritam has officially bought all the rights for the original source of the song.
Unable to control his anger, Pritam fumes, "I hate mud slinging, but this allegation is baseless and demeaning. It is being purposely done to make a controversy and promote the film. Yes, the song in question here, 'Jaane Kyun Tanha Ho Gaye', is indeed an adaptation but all the necessary paperwork has been done to make it legal. For the original number 'Ghare Pheraar Gaan', I myself went ahead and bought the copyright from Asha Audio by spending my own money."
There is a different version floating from the production house though. As per Magna Films, it was only a day before the music release of Bhram that they discovered that 'Jaane Kyun', was actually an inspiration.
"What rubbish", wonders Pritam, "Director Pawan Kaul liked the particular song 'Ghare Pheraar Gaan' and wanted it in the film. He all along knew that it is a Bengali song by late Gautam Chatterjee. Possibly Magna Films was not informed about this but Pawan knew this all along. Since my prime point of contact was Pawan, he should have kept Magna people in loop."
Continues Pritam in an exasperated tone, "I guess it keeps happening to me all the time and because I do not open up my mouth, there seems to be an open opportunity for anyone and everyone. I choose to keep quite because I don't want any dirty linen to be washed in public. A lot happens in the industry and it is always in the best of everyone's interest that people avoid indulging in cross fires. But this time I had to speak up."
From where is the entire issue stemming from? "Search me", says Pritam while raising his hands in air, "After completion of this project, I tried calling Mr. Pawan Kaul umpteen times to know what was happening on the album because I wanted proper credits to be given to Gautamda. I had no contact with the producers as I was mostly dealing with Mr. Kaul."
"In fact, I had no clue whatsoever about what was happening with the song unless I saw the poster of Bhram on a bus. That is when I realized that the movie and music were getting ready for release," informs Pritam, "Since I wasn't getting a concrete response from Mr. Kaul, I requested him to pass me on the contacts at Magna Films."
Did the conversation help? "There was further shock in store for me as I got to know from them that the music of Bhram was to be released on the market in a day. My worst fears came true as I realized that there was indeed no credit to Gautamda on the CD."
How could this have happened considering the fact that a proper contract had been signed to procure the number? "I seriously don't know what made the producers refrain from having the credits on the album cover. There was a blame game happening where Mr. Kaul said that he had given instructions to Magna Films while their representatives said that they had no clue about any such developments."
" On my request, Times Music later agreed to delay the music launch by a few days so that they could put a label next to the song with the relevant credit. Of course, they couldn't replace the cover with a new one and I was ok to have at least a label carrying the credits. The issue was settled and it was in fact I who was on the front foot, as I wanted the right people to get credit. However, what I see is tables being turned on me for no rhyme or reason," says Pritam in a disappointing tone.
Maybe Kaul thought that Pritam's name in the controversy would help the film. Laughs Pritam, "It's quite funny if that was the case. If Mr. Kaul thought that I was such a big star that he could promote the film through me, he should have taken me as the hero!"
" I am clueless why Mr. Kaul had to drag me into this. Primarily, I gave all the time to him and when he bounced a song after full recording (even though after approving it on the melody level), I didn't react or ask any money for it. Secondly, I was not paid any hefty money because one year back I was charging very less. Thirdly, even when I had taken all the rights for the song while keeping Mr. Kaul informed all along, where is the question of him or the producers finding out about the source? It is disgusting!"
Mr. Lahiri - Asha audio
"I don't understand why Pritam is being dragged into this. He bought the rights from us and is now setting up our song to gain popularity across globe. This happened months back and it surprises me that all of a sudden people out there are trying to malign his name. Quite sad. He is a gentle soul and when he is genuinely right, he is unnecessarily being cornered."
Ms. Shikha Singhi - Head of Films Aquistion, Times Music
"I am aware that he had communicated to Pawan Kaul about the song being bought from the original artiste. I understand that Pritam trusted Kaul to inform us about this. However, we were not aware about it until the first copy of the CD was ready to be out.
In fact, the moment Pritam came to know that there were crediting issues, he immediately requested us to get the stock back. We knew that he was doing the right thing and supported him. This is why we even delayed the music launch by 2-3 days and got the label on the album cover citing the credits. In fact, Pritam had even offered to pay for the losses that Times Music would have incurred due to CDs being called back We at Times Music have absolutely no problems and see this as a non-issue!
This should settle the case once for an all!"