Home BIG STORY Time to Throw the ‘Remix’ Brigade out of Business

Time to Throw the ‘Remix’ Brigade out of Business

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By Sandeep Sahu*

“What is the fuss all about?” asks the MTV generation of Odias, sounding suitably perplexed about the hullabaloo over the Coke Studio-MTV version of ‘Rangabati’, the cult Sambalpuri number that has been a mandatory feature in marriage processions across Odisha and many other parts of the country for decades.

remix rangabati

Rituraj Mohanty of India’s Raw Star fame, who sang the ‘Bande Utkala Janani’ part of the Ram Sampath medley, was certainly speaking for many of his ‘remix’ generation when, asked for his reaction on the outrage it had sparked off, he asked, incredulity written all over his face; “I just can’t understand what is wrong with it? After all, Coke Studio is a huge platform that opens up to the whole world.”

It is a measure of the distance this generation has travelled from its socio-cultural roots that it is unable to see, much less feel, the hurt that this ‘fusion’ version has caused to millions who have grown up listening to, humming and even shaking a leg to the original ‘Rangabati’ and standing up in reverence every time ‘Bande Utkala Janani’ is played. It is equally a measure of the extent to which the ‘world’ has laid sieze to the collective consciousness of a whole generation that a young friend, during a rather animated debate on the issue on Facebook, actually defended the misspelling of ‘Janani’ as ‘Janini’ in the album blurb arguing it is quite commonplace in ‘world music’ and then went on to reel off examples of it!

Let me make it clear at the very outset. I have no problems with those who enjoy the ‘Rangabati Returns’. I can also live with those think it is ‘better than the original’. After all, musical tastes can and do differ. But what gets my goat is when the members of the MTV brigade offer the specious – and condescending – argument that Messrs Ram Sampath-Sona Mohapatra- Rituraj Mohanty have actually done Odias a great favour by taking this nondescript number to the ‘whole of India’ and the ‘world at large’. Indeed, going by the comments in the social media, it would appear as if Rangabati Mark II is the best thing that has happened to Odisha since it became a separate state on April 1, 1936!

They reel off the numbers – 10 lakh hits within just four days of the ‘item’ (which perhaps is the appropriate term for what is sought to be passed off as a song) debuting on YouTube – to prove their point. Since many of these MTV warriors were not even born when Rangabati was born, they would never know that a 100 times that many people have already listened to and relished the original number without any help from MTV whatsoever. I have heard it played by music bands during marriage processions in places as far off as Patna and Delhi and seen people dancing away in gay abandon to its electrifying beat. As for taking it to the ‘world’, it had already gone there way back in the late 1970s courtesy BBC and Voice of America. I do not have the slightest doubt that long after the numbers taper off on YouTube and ‘Rangabati Returns’ falls by the wayside, Rangabati, the original, would continue to regale millions with its verve and vivacity – as it has done for four decades now.

Rituraj’s rendition of ‘Bande Utkala Janani’ is even more outrageous. It takes the soul out of Kantakabi’s immortal creation, which has been rightfully accorded the exalted status of a state anthem, and trivialises it in the most brazen way possible. Senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik certainly had a point when he demanded that the Odisha Assembly should pass a legislation, which would make any fiddling with the state anthem, punishable – as is the case with ‘Jana Gana Mana’.

I am appalled – and at the same time rather amused – at the sheer hypocrisy of this ‘taking it to the world’ claim. If Coke Studio/Ram Sampath picked up Rangabati, it was not because their heart bled for this obscure folk song badly in need of some help from them to reach out to ‘the world at large’. Had that been the case, the least they would have done was to have taken due permission from the copyright holders. Had that been the case, they would have roped in Jitendriya Haripal and Krishna Patel (both of them alive and kicking) together and recreated the Rangabati magic in their state-of-the-art studio. Had that been the case, they would have at least stuck to the original notations, pace, words and pronunciation of the song.

They pounced on Rangabati because they saw an enormous business opportunity in it. They never thought of inviting Haripal and Patel to do the singing because they did not want their moolah shared with ‘outsiders’, even if they happen to be the original singers of the song. They tinkered with the words and intonations because they knew that is the only way they can sell it to a generation brought up on dollops of ‘remix’ stuff.

The problem with many of us who feel outraged at this gross chutneyfication of a cult number is that we get stuck on issues of copyright. Copyrights, after all, can be bought and sold across the table. My own objection is to this whole ‘business’ of remix/remake. My blood boiled when the late Gulshan Kumar set the ball rolling in the 1980s with his Super Cassettes/’T’ series offerings where Vipin Sachdeva and Vandana Vajpayee sought to pass themselves off as Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar respectively. And it continues to boil now when I find the whole flavour taken out of a number which has been such an integral part of my growing up process.

I believe that when it comes to a cult number like Rangabati, the copyright holders are not the sole stake holders. I am – and millions like me, who have grown up listening to it – are also stakeholders in its fate. Tomorrow, the copyright holders – lyricist Mitrabhanu Gauntia and composer Prabhudutta Pradhan – who have threatened to file a Rs 1 crore defamation suit against the makers of Rangabati II may patch up with Coke Studio and settle for an out of court settlement. But we, as music lovers, would continue to feel outraged.

It is not just music. I am equally vehemently opposed to remakes of films and have made it a point never to watch any of them, even when they are made by directors I like. Case in point: Farhan Akhtar’s remake of ‘Don’. I have never quite figured out why a man who gave us the refreshingly delicious ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ had to turn to a remake.

I am a firm believer in the sanctity and inviolability of an original creation. That is why I am opposed to film makers taking ‘creative liberties’ with original work, even when they are masters I have otherwise adored. Case in point: Satyajit Ray’s ‘Shatranj ke Khiladi’. My point is: why pick something original if you cannot adhere to its fundamentals? Why can’t you create something original instead? I abhor this business of ‘creative interpretation’.

For far too long, we have allowed the remix/remake brigade piggyback on others’ successes. For far too long, we have allowed them to make mincemeat of the original. The time has come to throw the ‘remix’ brigade out of business.

Unfortunately, however, the only way this can be done is through the Copyright Act. It is time the Act is suitably amended to put a cost to blatant plagiarism and unabashed bastardization of original creation. If even one company/individual is made to cough up an amount of a crore or two, I do not have the slightest doubt that it will be the end of the road for those who have made a fortune out of selling other people’s creations. After all, nothing talks like money!

my profile pic 1 (2)* Sandeep Sahu is the Executive Editor of odishasuntimes.com    

 

22 COMMENTS

  1. Just feeling the same way sir. Thanks for bringing up the issue so loud. Millions of music lovers are with you.

  2. Hits on you-tube can never denote degree of excellence or timelessness of real music. Just few years back ‘kolavari D’ was a you-tube hit. But rarely do we find this song played now. Similarly gas of Rituraj and Sona brand of MTV fizz of Rangabati would die out in short time. But melody of real Rangabati created by Jitendra and Krishna will live on.

    • A very good article indeed mr sahu. RANGABATI is already world famous and we don’t want anyone to give it a big platform as they say. If they are creative enough then let them create a new number like RANGABATI …..! Actually they are using the name and fame which RANGABATI already havd long before their birth…..!!

    • Dear Sir,

      You obviously did not last till the end of the article. If you did, you would have certainly seen who this ‘idiot’ is – with a mug shot thrown in to help you recognise him.

      I would have been grateful if you had taken the troble of explaining why this is a ‘stupid’ article and how it shames Odias.

      Thanks for the compliment, though

  3. It’s turned into a habit of making controversies out of things plain and simple. It’s all about how one sees the remix. A person who loves it will keep praising the effort made by the musicians, but a person who has a habit of calling a plain and simple phenomenon a controversy to be banned would see it as condescending. Try to rise out of pettiness, it helps you to broaden your perspective of the world and nature. Try embracing change and laud others for their efforts. I’m grateful to both Sona Mohapatra and Rituraj Mohanty to have introduced “Rangabati” and “Utkala Bande Janani” to a national platform.

    • Right mam…but change does not mean of twisting the lyrics and making it meaningless either..change has to be positive always…

  4. Whoever you are Mr. Sandeep Sahu, please grow up. You are the perfect example of a Odia Crab( and I am sure you have heard about it). I am offended by your article in the same way you were offended by a meager song. Damn failures in life, who don’t have any other job get offended by everything around them. So as I said grow up!!!

    • Thanks for your unsolicted – and free – advice, Guddu. I am already too old to grow up. And yes, I have heard about the crab mentality of Odias. If you think this article reflects that mentality, then so be it.

      Yours sicerely

      ‘Whoever’

      • Hello Mr. Sahu,

        Don’t you think, there are bigger issues to worry about? I am an odia who loves the Remix songs as much as I love the old classics. I am proud of my heritage but ready to accept changes. I don’t like many songs, but whenever I don’t like something, I switch it off. Odisha has several other problems to complain about . People like Sona & Rituraj, make me proud of my heritage. It made me remember “Bande Utkala Janani” after so many years. It gave me goosebumps. I had an American friend listen to it and proudly told that it is my state anthem. So if you don’t like it, its cool, but don’t try to a cultural crusader and attack everyone who has a different point of view.

        • What makes you think that I don’t worry about the ‘bigger issues’? I do and write about them as well. It is just that you have never got to read them. I am not questioning your right to get ‘goosebumps’ while listening to the Rituraj Mohanty version of Bande Utkala Janani. But I do question your right to advise me on whether or not I should try to be a ‘cultural crusader’ (I have never thought of me as one, BTW) or anything else I choose to be. Thanks

  5. I thinks this article is judgmental and reeks of negativity. You have a problem with remixes, that’s fine. But you are in no position and decide whether or not the Sona Mohapatra and Rituraj jumped on it as a money making opportunity. I would then say that the people who have filed defamation cases against these guys are also opportunists.
    How come you are so offended by this, but okay with the bastardization of Odia music these days? It’s so bad – full of derogation and non odia words. How come you are okay with the vulgarity that ensues when people dance on Rangabati itself on so many occasions?
    Music is all about connection and interpretation. Rituraj sung the song with so much passion that I doubt you would ever have. Do you even know Bande Utkala Janani by heart? Do you stand up everytime it plays?
    Please, stop this hypocrisy. You arenot the torch bearer for Odias and you can’t decide how we choose to show love to our Janani. Sona and Rituraj have shown love for their motherland in a way they uunderstand best – music. So get a life please.

    • Mam..Actually didn’t get what kind of love u r talking about..u find love in misinterpretation,mispronunciation and miserable twisted lyrics..this is the distance of generation gap he is perhaps talking about by virtue of which everything that is wrong today seems appalling to all…

  6. Mr.Sahu., with due respect, Oriyas like you are the biggest enemy of the oriya culture. For god’s sake..give some creative freedom to artists.if they picked up the song to remix and present it on a public platform…it’s ok..cool idea.what’s the big deal ??
    When I used to listen to songs from Assam and Bengal .I wondered..why is no one singing Oriya??? And when they did..it was sheer pride…stop judging each and every molecule on earth.
    It was the same curiosity that persuaded you to go n watch the mtv video.if you really have so much of problem..use ear buds..n close ur eyes…
    We love it when we hear a Punjabi humming rangabati song.

    Live and let live !!!!
    You write well..but this critic approach was not appealing at all.

    Best regards
    A proud Oriya !

    • Deterioration does not mean Development…plz listen the new song carefully word by word and find the meanings…a true odia will never complain again after that

  7. Very strong cultural points in this article. Thanks to Sri Sandeep Sahu sir for the most impartial view on the RANGABATI issue. We the people of Western Odisha want CULTURAL JUSTICE on this issue. The Copy Right holders are more than 20 crore people of Western Odisha, Odisha, India and fans of RANGABATI all over the world. From whom they would seek permission. The REMIX VENTURE is itself a cultural blunder.

  8. Sorry for my ignorance Mr Sandeep Sahu.Can you tell me who composed the tune of Bande Utkala Janani ?When it was adopted as our State Anthem ?

  9. Dear Sahu Sir,
    I am grateful to you for this article. This becomes the Voice of the crores of Voice-less, who do not have a space in any media.
    I don’t have problems with recreation even am not complaining the beautiful-highsounding-progessive mentality of the Odia cultural lovers’view on the issue.
    No doubt Sona and Rituraj are excellent singers but they failed to take advantage of the dignified opportunity in Coke studio. They have destroyed our culture and wrongly communicated to the World. I personally respect the songs Rangabati and Vande Utkala Janani as two faces of a single mother land, so the Rangabati Returns hurt me because of various reasons.
    I am with your view and vision sir.

    Thanks.
    Tularam

  10. ପଠନଯୋଗ୍ୟ ଓ ଚିନ୍ତା ଉଦ୍ରେକକାରୀ। ମନେହେଲା, ତନୟା ପଟ୍ଟନାୟକଙ୍କ ଲେଖାର ସମୁଚିତ ଉତ୍ତର!
    ଧନ୍ୟବାଦ

  11. Actually it is not much of an issue. Let Coke make an out of court settlement if at all there is a copy right violation. Actually the nuances and ethos brought about by old song can not be repeated. But thanks to Sona, Rituraj rendition that this could to come to fore.I appreciate the new remix.

  12. With all due respect….your time is getting over….and the sooner the better….So much for being proud of a song, nobody even knew where Odisha is throughout my education outside Odisha…I know you are proud of being a crab…but Odisha and Odias will grow despite you trying to pull them down. Mahaprabhu aapanka mangala karantu

  13. A very good article indeed mr sahu. RANGABATI is already world famous and we don’t want anyone to give it a big platform as they say. If they are creative enough then let them create a new number like RANGABATI …..! Actually they are using the name and fame which RANGABATI already had long before their birth…..!!

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