The remixed version of the beloved Sambalpuri folk song “Rangabati” from Odisha has encountered legal complications. The song, a timeless hit, experienced a resurgence in popularity when it was remixed and went viral on the internet. However, this remix has sparked controversy and led to a legal dispute, as the original lyricist, Mitrabhanu Gauntia, and the music director, Prabhudatta Pradhan, have filed a defamation suit amounting to Rs 1 crore.
The lawsuit was filed against several entities and individuals involved in the reproduction of the song, including Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd, Viacom 18 Media Pvt Ltd, singer Sona Mohapatra, musician Ram Sampath, and co-singer Rituraj Mohanty. The plaintiffs argue that the song was remixed and reproduced without seeking permission from the original creators, thereby violating copyright laws.
The legal notice, issued by Supreme Court lawyer Sagar Kumar Pradhan, asserts that the copyright of “Rangabati” is held by Prabhudatta Pradhan and Mitrabhanu Gauntia. It demands an immediate halt to the telecast of the remixed song and settlement of the defamation suit within 15 days, failing which legal action would be pursued.
Mitrabhanu Gauntia expressed his discontent, stating that the remix not only altered the essence of the original song but also hurt the sentiments of the people connected to the song and the region’s culture. Jitendra Haripal, who gained fame for his rendition of “Rangabati,” echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the importance of preserving folk traditions and culture.
Despite the controversy, the remixed version of “Rangabati” garnered significant attention, accumulating over 4 lakh views on YouTube shortly after its release. The song was featured in the fourth season of Coke Studio@MTV, with Sona Mohapatra and Rituraj Mohanty performing the remixed version. The composition by Ram Sampath blended Sambalpuri and Tamil languages, incorporating elements of “Bande Utkal Janani,” an Odia patriotic song.
The original “Rangabati,” recorded in the mid-70s by Jitendra Haripal and Krishna Patel, continues to hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Odisha. It is a staple at marriage processions and has transcended geographical boundaries, spreading its foot-tapping music nationwide. The ongoing legal dispute underscores the challenges of balancing modern reinterpretations with respecting and preserving cultural heritage.