The world-renowned Indian music composer AR Rahman's recreation of Kazi Nazrul Islam’s famous patriotic song ‘Karar Oi Louho Kopat’ - the Iron Gate of Prison - by changing the melody for the film ‘Pippa’ was “pointless”, says Nazrul Sangeet expert Sujit Mustafa.
The singer and vocal trainer joined http://bdnews24.com’s Inside Out to share his views about the issue on Sunday in an interview broadcast live on the news website as well as its Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Besides the recent controversy, Sujit also gave his thoughts on the current state and future of classical music in Bangladesh.
The rendition of the revolutionary Nazrul song has been in the eye of the storm ever since the new version was released by producers of Pippa. It has stoked backlash, with critics calling it a fundamental misunderstanding of the lyrics and essence.
While Bangladesh’s national poet still inspires passionate discussion on social media, the study and practice of Nazrul Sangeet – his incredibly influential body of musical work – remains on the decline.
Sujit said Rahman might have thought about the audience of the song in the film while composing it with the lyrics unchanged. “A film is finally a business,” the Bangladeshi musician pointed out.
He said someone like Rahman must have made the changes “absolutely lawfully”. “He certainly had the permission to recreate,” he added when asked if the Indian composer had the liberty to do so.
But since Rahman is from South India, and not West Bengal, according to Sujit, it was the job of Nazrul’s family and the Bengali singers who sang the song in the movie to remind Rahman of how important the tune of the original song is.
“The family should have [insisted] or requested him – ‘you shouldn't go beyond this composition’.”
“But the question is – the singers, they must’ve known about the original composition. But maybe they were too happy to be a part of AR Rahman’s team,” Sujit said in a dig at the performers.
“So they didn't have the guts to say that they wanted to sing the original song.”
The makers of ‘Pippa’ apologised to fans if they were hurt by the remake of ‘Karar Oi Louho Kopat’.
The ‘Pippa’ team brushed aside allegations that they violated the adaptation rights of the song.
RSVP and Roy Kapur Films are the producers of the Hindi biographical film on an Indian regiment that took part in Bangladesh’s War of Independence from Pakistan in 1971.
Late Kalyani Kazi, daughter of Bangladesh’s National Poet Nazrul, signed the licensing agreement for the song. Her son Anirban Kazi was a witness to the agreement signed in 2021.
Anirban said they had not realised an Oscar-winning composer like Rahman could “kill the song”.
Sujit also pointed out that the movie is based on history, so its makers should have admired the sentiments of the Bengalis.
“And since they picked up that particular song, the lyric is there, so what was the problem using the composition? I don't get the point,” he said.