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Becoming Popular Day By Day In Bollywood

A firebrand girl made for an apt gift from Kancha Cheena to his new alley, Vijay Dinanath Chayhan. For this sequence in the film Agneepath, the producer Karan Johar and director Karan Malhotra were looking for a tune on which they could have Katrina Kaif, as the chosen firebrand girl, perform an item number. "The tune had to be rustic and far removed from the club numbers that Katrina had before,” Malhotra recounts. The film’s music composer Ajay-Atul then decided to give the makers of the film a taste of Laavani to see if they would like it and played their popular song Kombdi palaali from 2006 Marathi film Jatra. Both Johar and Malhotra insisted that Ajay and Atul recompose the same song for Agneepath’s item number and the 15 result was Chikni Chameli. "The song had the right rhythm and beat and it was already a success in Maharashtra. We were sure it would work with the masses across the country,” explains Malhotra.

Filmmakers are increasingly thinking on the same lines as Malhotra. They are using numbers of both regional and western chartbusters in Bollywood films, this time round officially. Producer Bhushan Kumar, upon Salman Khan’s insistence, had purchased rights of the Telegu hit song Ringa Ringa, which was recomposed as Dhinka Chika for the film Ready. Actor Akshay Kumar too, has taken fancy to the popular Tamil track Appadi podu, and will be using the tune in his home production, Naam Hai Boss. Composer duo Vishal-Shekhar had adapted Ben E.King’s classic Stand by me as the song Dildara for Sharukh Khan’s ambitious Ra.one. More recently, Agent Vinode’s item song I’ll do the talking tonight has been officially inspired by Boney M’s Rasputin.

Incidentally, these songs have already tasted success in their Bollywood avatar. Music composer Pritom who worked on I’ll do the talking tonight, explains that the rhythm and tune has a universal appeal. ‘Rasputin is popular even after nearly three decades of its release. The chances that the Indian version will not be liked are slender,” he explains. While there are fans of those originals who do not like the Indian compositions, the industry dismiss it as a small number since most of the audience is not likely to have heard the originals.

However, most of the composers are not rooting for the trend. They admit that an already-hit number is remade for Bollywood films only when the makers insist on it. "We can create something of our own that will be as popular, but don’t have a choice when the crew takes a strong liking to a song,” says Shekhar Ravjiani of the Visha-Shekhor duo. Atul of the Ajay-Atul duo seconds Ravjiani. He, however, adds that this gives refional music a boost as it brings them more revenue under the Copyright Act.

Vinit Thakker, Head Sony ATV, Sony’s music publishing arm, views the trend as a step forward from the days when popular songs would be unabashedly copied by Bollywood composers. "The publishing industry is finally picking up its pace in India. As composers continuously turn to us to license out some of our properties, it is overwhelming to see that people are taking care to follow Copyright rules,” he says. 

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