You are at Telugu film songs: Inspired or ripped off?

Telugu film songs: Inspired or ripped off?

After Bryan Adams' label expressed concern over the iconic Summer of '69 being allegedly ripped off by a Malayalam film music composer, one fears if Tollywood will face the wrath international musicians considering the number of 'lifts' in our films' music.

Reports of musician Bryan Adams's team contemplating legal action against the makers of hit Malayalam film Bangalore Days (to be remade in Telugu) hit the headlines recently. It was alleged that the makers of the film plagiarised the iconic 1984 track Summer of 69 in the song, Kannum Chimmi.

The issue has once again triggered the age old debate between plagiarism and inspiration, but what's more interesting is that the song caught the attention of Bryan Adams' office through an
online post that claimed the song was a rip off ! Well we shouldn't be surprised if soon our Telugu filmmakers have similar charges levied against them because there are plenty of online forums which specialise in identifying copycat tunes in Telugu albums.

You'll just have to type 'Telugu songs copied' on an online search engine to discover innumerable lists of hit songs allegedly ripped off from Hindi, English and Hollywood movie sound
tracks with embedded videos of Telugu songs placed beside the corresponding track from which it was allegedly inspired or copied. From recent hits to iconic songs from the nineties, the lists could induce a huge sense of an audio deja vu to say the least.

For example, the base tune of the hit number Sweety from Allu Arjun's Race Gurram shares an uncanny resemblance to a Romanian song Armandoi composed by Matteo. The popular Yemaindo Yemo song from Gundejaari Gallanthayyinde was claimed to be the official remix of a song from Pawan Kalyan's Tholi Prema. However, the 'original' itself sounds eerily similar to the hit Ricky Martin single Un Dos Tres that topped the charts in 1996.

In fact, director Puri Jagannath publicly admitted that he got Thaman to rip off the Italian revolutionary track Bella Ciao for the Pilla Chav track in Businessman. Classics like Telusa Manasa from Nagarjuna's Criminal composed by MM Kerravani also has similarities with the chartbuster Age of Loneliness by Enigma. The iconic Chakri composition, Nee Kosam from Itlu Sravani Subramanyam not only sounds like Madonna's Frozen but looks the same as well! Also, the romantic number Cheppava Prema sounds like a mellowed down version of Cher's Dov'e L'Amore. The list can just go on and on.

However, the music directors in their defence, claim that it's a thin line that separates inspiration and plagiarism. Music director Gopi Sunder admits to "using the guitar riff" from the hit Bryan Adams' single but contests, "I have used the same guitar riff as that of Summer of '69 out of my love for Bryan Adams. And I did it knowingly. It might seem like a copy to a lay person, but someone who knows music will see that the notation of the melody is different. It is not legally wrong to adapt the backing and there are several songs which have used riffs from other songs."

Music directors are under pressure from filmmakers, who insist on using certain tunes. "I just deliver what I am asked to. I can't say no to their requirement because a lot of money rides on every film," quips Thaman.

Also, lack of knowledge and blatant disregard for the copyright act among our filmmakers is the main issue. "The copyright act does exist in the industry, but no one takes it seriously. Music directors don't acknowledge their inspiration, as doing so might just bring them under the scanner of the Copyright Act. In any case, many of our films are rip offs themselves, so why blame the music directors? There is nothing like an original idea, they are all inspired in some way or the other," says a popular filmmaker.

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