Do Indian musicians encourage plagiarism?

  • by Aditya Pandey
  • August 20, 2020

Music director Salim Merchant was accused by Pakistani singer Farhan Saeed of blatantly stealing one of his songs without giving due credits.

However, the allegations were verified by courts, but the Indian music industry has been infamous for allegations of stealing art from places like Pakistan, South Korea, the US, the Middle East, and repackaging it as it’s own.

And many of those allegations are not without merit. While I understand that the principle of ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ should be applied to anyone accused of committing a crime, it would not be entirely false to say that there are musicians (like Pritam and Anu Malik) who have had serious allegations against them of having made their careers by plagiarising the work of other artists without giving them any sort of credit or even royalty.

What is baffling to see that a practice like this has never been condoned or that none of the accusations has been investigated (as far as I can remember) by our own judiciary. Seems to me that no one is really bothered about the means as long as we get to the end we so desire i.e. money and fame.

It’s true that there is a lot of genuinely good original work done by Indian musicians for which they should receive all the credit they deserve. And that is not the kind of reputation to be proud of.

And the message that goes across to anyone who wants to make a career in music is really simple – if you have the ability to plagiarise and if your tunes sound catchy enough to help the movie make money, Bollywood will welcome you with open arms and you will achieve celebrity status within no time.

It’s up to the courts of this country to decide whether any of these allegations are true or not. It’s up to Bollywood whether they want to address it or not.

But maybe you can try to at least empathize with the artist who created something that was truly their own, only to watch in frustration as someone else is taking the credit for that work. If this is not stealing, then I don’t know what else is.

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