Rangabati in Remix: Nasty Tricks of Avarice Kills the Song, Affects Creative Property Right, Attracts Legal Action

Kedar Mishra

“It was a “crazy” day in court on Thursday. The Roshans — Rakesh and brother Rajesh — were censured for dishonesty but they ensured the Friday release of their latest film Krazzy4” – the Times of India reported on 11 th April 2008. The report was based on a judgment delivered by Justice D.G. Karnik of Mumbai High court in favor of a young musician called Ram Sampath and clearly told in the verdict that “Music composer Ram Sampath has proved that he is the owner of copyright and that the four tracks in Krazzy4 are a copy of The Thump (the music he created for a television commercial for Sony Ericsson)… None of the Roshan’s defense arguments has any merit.” Taking note of the young music composer Ram Sampath’s argument, the court had ordered Roshans to pay Rs 1,77,34,600 (the amount after tax deductions) on the very day of the verdict. It was a big moral victory for a young music composer against a big banner like Roshans and that had brought Ram Sampath and his singer wife Sona Mohapatra into limelight.

Later celebrating their victory over Roshans, Ram and Sona in a talk show with veteran film commentator Komal Nahta articulated their idea on intellectual property and creativity and there, Sona said, “ intellectual property and creativity something you should value and the source of creativity needs to be respected and any civilized society needs to start with that”.

One must appreciate their courage and conviction to protect the intellectual property rights and creative dignity.

But it was story of 2008.

In 2015, the story has drastically changed.

The couple who fought for intellectual property right and got a huge amount as compensation are now violating others’ intellectual property rights and humiliatingly distorting a folk artiste’s creative property.

Blatantly violating the intellectual copy rights act 1957 they have hijacked the lyrics, tune and flavor of a song which was created and composed by a group of folk musicians from Orissa whose Rangabati has remained synonymous with ecstasy of exquisite folk music, making Orissa a referral point beyond her geographic limits.

A short History

“Rangabati rangabati Kanakalata
Hasi pade kahana katha”

[O colourful lady! O Rangabati!
You are like a golden creeper.
Talk to me with your smile.

Thus enters Rangabati to reign over a living empire of music.

A hit song of 1970s, Rangabati spread like wild fire throughout the state of Orissa and transgressed geographical boundaries and become hugely popular allover India. As P.Sainath, veteran journalist wrote, “Rangabati captured huge areas beyond that State. The Golden Creeper spread through Chattisgarh, then entwined much of the Hindi belt. There was a time in the 1980s when no self-respecting truck driver hit the road without the cassette. Tea shops reminded clients of their existence with the song blaring. No one knows how many vinyl records were sold, but it made gold disc status within its first three or four years of play. As for the cassette version, its sales were in countless lakhs. It generated a fortune in revenues for both music companies and pirates.”

Rangabati was a song first recorded in All India Radio, Sambalpur station in 1975-76 as a Sambalpuri song sung by young singer duo Jitendria Haripal and Krishna Patel. It was a duet song specially penned by Mitravanu Gauntia, a much respected lyricist from All India Radio.

Soon a music company – INDRECO recorded and released the musical disc of Rangabati from Kolkota and the song becomes a household chant in the eastern part of India.

Though it was a song based on folk tune and beats, it was not from a pure folk genre. It is an original creative work by Pravudutta Pradhan, a brilliant drummer and musician from Sambalpur
Here it would be apt to say that there is a little controversy over its composition. At least there are three claimants to take credit as composer of this highly popular track. Somehow, the copy right as composer of this song is now in the hand of Sri Pradhan.

Other claimants Pradip Patra and Ramesh Mahanand were surely a part of this classic composition.

From the day of its release Rangabati becomes an instant hit and surpassed time as a classic track of timelessness.
Rangabati is a song very close to heart and soul of the Oriya population and we grew up with its dreamy words and pensive melody. With this song one can also see a long standing struggle of its singer Jitendria Haripal.

Plotting a Musical Murder

In a dramatic twist Sona Mohapatra and Ruturaj Mohanty, originally residents from Orissa, established as singers in Bollywood, pickedup Rangabati to present in Coke studio arguably to take the legendary song to a larger audience. In their presentation they described the song “Rangabati is Orissa’s most popular folk song from the Sambalpur region and the composition has been known to the locals since time immemorial. The song reached a larger public and became a popular household song after it was recorded for the first time in the mid 70’s in the voices of Jitendra Haripal & Krishna Patel with additional lyrics by Mitrabhanu Guintia & re-arranged by Prabhudatta Pradhan”.
It was categorically informed to the audience that it was a folk song which was rearranged and rewritten by Rangabati team which was factually incorrect.

Rangabati is a song originally written and composed by the team injecting folk tunes and rhythms into the song and it is very much a creative and intellectual property of its lyricist Mr.Mitravanu Gauntia and music director Mr.Pradhan.

It is unfortunate to see that Ram Sampath who was fighting to regain his intellectual and creative property rights with Rakesh Roshan & Co is now depriving team Rangabati from their creative ownership.

Ram Sampath used original music track and lyric of Rangabati for Coke Studio without taking prior permission from the lyricist and the composer.

Gross Violation of Laws

In the name of remix and rap, Ram Sampath, Sona Mohaptra and Ruturaj Mohanty have grossly violated the Copyrights Act and also defaced the musical track and distorted the lyric.

Sona has take just 30% of the song where there are a dozen of pronunciation mistakes and by using nonsense words she makes the song a mockery.

The words and feel in the song are totally out of place.

Though an Oriya girl, Sona Mohapatra makes one wonder if she understands her own language and the melody of her own roots.

The argument that they have taken the song to a larger audience makes hardly any sense.

Original Rangabti track is hugely popular even today and it needs no irresponsible and unethical promoters from Bollywood.

Ram Sampath’s act termed illegal has been challenged in the court of law and hopefully law will take its own course.
Strong protests and angry voices against the mischief indicate to what extent the avaricious misconduct of Sampath and his collaborators has hurt the non-sophomoric Oriya population.

“Really Disappointing”

Talking on the distortion and humiliating presentation of Rangabati, Ramesh Mahanand, a veteran Sambalpuri music composer and one of the members of the core Rangabati team said, “It’s really disappointing that Rangabati song was performed so ridiculously. Where were the M.tv musicians? Music arrangement is so substandard let alone singing.

In the past, I have watched several excellent Music programs of M.tv. It seems, Rangabati song is willfully humiliated by the M.tv and team.”

A crusader has finally set his new venture to crucify the poor and deprived class of musicians from their intellectual and creative property rights.

Ram Sampath, who was a fighter himself, is now indulging in a devilish effort to deprive team Rangabati from its legal and ethical rights. Sona Mohapatra and Ruturaj Mohanty are arguing in their defense like school children and offering a hugely popular song a “Remix status” which has no takers.

(Kedar Mishra is a freelance journalist, art critic, poet and scholar)

Also read:

Coke Studio’s “Rangabati” is an insult and assault on folk music and linguistic sanctity

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