In Saif Ali Khan’s recently released spy-thriller Agent Vinod, several old songs apparently were used without due permission from the producers or the labels that own the rights to the soundtracks. This has resulted in Saif and his co-producers having to cough up extra cash, a lot more than they would have had to, had they adhered to the regulations.
Three songs in particular were used in the film — Aasmaan Pe Hai Khuda from Ramesh Saigal’s Phir Subah Hogi (1958), Meri Jaan Maine Kaha from Ramesh Behl’s The Train and Rakamma from Mani Ratnam’s Thalapathi (1991).
A well-placed industry source tells us that more than the money, it was the credit that wasn’t given. “Not acknowledging the creators and owners of the songs is disrespectful towards them. It’s all about going the right way to do things. Besides, its about the business of making movies, not recovering royalties from the music used in the background.”
Director Sriram Raghavan maintains that he had already conveyed to the producers that they would need the required permissions. “That’s how I’ve worked before, for Johnny Gaddaar too. I think there might have been some miscommunication. The producers were following up with the process,” he explains.
Shrishti Behl Arya, daughter of late Ramesh Behl, recalls being surprised while watching the film. “The general practice is to take due permission. Though we’re happy that people pay homage to our films, at the same time, the work my father has done should also be respected. So yes, R D Burman, who composed the music, and the producer should be credited in the end credits,” she states.
However, no one from the label owning the music of The Train was willing to come on record for the story. On the other hand, Apurv Nagpal, CEO of the other label, says that when someone doesn’t take permission to use their songs, they have to pay more afterwards. However he says, “The issue has been sorted out amicably.”
A spokesperson from the company that presented the film maintains that there was no such issue. “We sought the permission for Rasputin earlier on. So why wouldn’t we take permissions for the other songs?” he retorted.