Bollywood's music tussle gets uglier

Jan 16, 2014, 11:00 IST | Asira Tarannum

The fight between music directors and music labels over royalty rights seems to have reached its zenith now with Abhay Deol openly protesting against T-Series…

Yesterday, HitList carried an exclusive report about the ongoing fight between Shankar Ehsaan Loy, music directors of the film, One by Two, and the owner of T-Series label, Bhushan Kumar, over the latter’s refusal to pay them royalty.

Abhay Deol, Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Bhushan Kumar

As a result, the film’s music is yet to launch but producer-actor Abhay Deol has openly sided with the former.

HitList story on the royalty issue that appeared yesterday

At an award function held on Tuesday night, he turned up with one eye painted black – it was his mark of protest against the injustice being meted out to the film’s music directors.

“I wonder why producers and actors are not coming forward to support us in this cause. I even met Bhushan Kumar yesterday and he shared his side of the story. But the issue is yet to be solved and I will continue fighting; together we can change,” said Abhay upon being contacted.

Moreover, the actor, whose film is believed to incur losses owing to the lack of music in its promotions, plans to organise a ‘concert of solidarity’ by the end of this month. “I don’t have the final list of artistes performing at the concert but the entire music fraternity is supporting us. In fact, Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt are also on our side,” he added.

The actor has been vocal about this on social media as well. “…The entire music fraternity is up in arms against record labels because they expect musicians to sign a contract with a clause that is against the law. Producers like myself are expected to make sure that they sign, which means if anyone will be arrested for breaking the law it will be the producer…”, says his post on a social networking site.

Bhushan Kumar, owner of the music label T-Series, said that the matter needs to be resolved between the producer and Viacom 18. “Viacom had agreed to our terms but the document given to us by them made it clear that they didn’t have the music rights.” He added that it will be illegal to release the film’s music now as it will land Viacom in big trouble. “Now if there’s a financial loss or a case against the company, then Viacom will be responsible,” he said.

Old story...
>> In the ’60s, Lata Mangeshkar and Mohd Rafi had a fallout over the issue.
>> In 2009, Javed Akhtar demanded that singers, lyricists and music composers be paid fifty percent of the profits being raked in by music companies. On December 25 in the same year, the Union Cabinet approved legislation to amend the Copyright Act 1957, allowing authors and creative artistes to retain control over their piece of work and enjoy royalties.
>> Recently, Salim-Sulaiman walk out of Karan Johar’s Ungli upon being denied royalty. Similarly, Sonu Nigam’s song in Shekhar Suman’s film, ‘Heartless’, was re-recorded with Mohit Chauhan.

The industry speaks out:
Javed Akhtar

Javed Akhtar: “There are many people who are intimidated by the powerful and hence, sign away their rights. But the fact is that taking away royalty rights is an illegal act, it is a kind of forgery. Royalties are inseparable and what the music companies are asking us to do is akin to committing a crime.”

Sajid Ali
Sajid Ali (one half of the music duo Sajid-Wajid): “Everyone has to stand up and fight for royalty as a united front. I am not talking about any one particular music company here. The issue needs to be tackled at the grassroot level. Often there is no option but to sign the contract as we don’t want our producers to suffer.

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