phiraiya dao amarei gaan

Somewhere around 2 years ago, I attended a concert where the famous Bangladeshi rock act Miles played a song called Phiraiya dao amar prem, which in Bangla means "give me back my love" It's hard to believe, but I was witness to a rather spectacular scene: a stadium full of Delhi-ites rocking to the music of a language they did not understand. I turned into an instant fan of Miles, the kind that has all their albums, etc.

Cut to 2004, the world's cleanest music composer does the music for the movie Murder. Along with the hit "Bheegey Hont Terey" there are two more popular songs, "Kaho Na Kaho" and "Jana Jane Jana". When I first heard "Jana Jane Jana", I recognized it immediately, everything from the arrangement to the guitar riffs was identical to the bangla number. I thought Anu Malik had commissioned Miles to render their song in hindi, which meant a big thing for me, since it meant Miles was now getting the attention it deserves.

Today, I chanced upon a rather interesting piece of news: Miles had not done the song! It was a case of blatant plagiarism, and the Calcutta High Court today issued a court order banning the copied song.

That's not all, the story gets even more interesting: Anu Malik did not steal the tune from Miles! How dare we tarnish his squeaky clean track record with such allegations! You see, he didn't steal the song... he bought it from - you wont believe this - a Pakistani singer by the name of Amir Jalan, who, by the way, stole the song for his own album. Since he bought the song, he can do whatever he wants, like have "Music by Anu Malik" written on the cassette, for example.

If you're still with me, here's the low down on this Amir Jamal guy: he's a Pakistani singer based in Jeddah whose album, Kaho Na Kaho contained the numbers he sold to Anu Malik. Jalan has not only stolen a song from Miles, he's also stolen an arabic song by Egyptian sensation Amr Diab, and passed it off as "Kaho Na Kaho" the other popular song in the movie we're talking about.

Forget all those stupid Princess Diana jokes, folks, this is the height of globalization: An Indian composer buys plagiarized tracks from a Pakistani singer who lives in Saudi Arabia and steals tracks from acts in Bangladesh and Egypt!

Since it's insanely difficult to enforce copyright over multiple countries, I have a feeling this kind of theiving will only get more popular. The only way to curb this is through awareness, so if you listen to, and like original music, please try to spread the word.

Some Links:
Bangladesher Dak covers the Miles issue.
Indian Inspired Film Song Database. (very good list)
Anu Malik's list at the I2FS.
A review that points out the same 2 songs.

About the author:

Arnab Nandi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University. You can read more about him here.

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