Pritam speaks out on the ‘Hai Junoon’ controversy

(Cross-posted from ItwoFS, since this is very relevant to Milliblog too!)

Pritam has responded to the allegations of plagiarism in Hai Junoon, in Calcutta Times – to the same journalist who first broke the story in mainstream media. At the outset, I have to appreciate Pritam for being sincere in his responses – he may have sounded very vague in an earlier show by Karan Thapar on this topic – but here, he sounds confident, specific and honest. A few clarifications – as someone managing a plagiarism tracking website, I need to be honest and fair too and not pander to emotional allegations, based on past track record.

When Pritam says, “Hai Junoon doesn’t match in terms of notes with Naluri Lelaki“, I completely agree. This instance is perhaps one of the weaker allegations against Pritam since he has far more blatant cases of plagiarism to highlight as breaking news. Before this case went online in ItwoFS, I had two mails from ItwoFS readers informing me the same. I listened to both the tracks closely and was not entirely convinced of its addition in ItwoFS – this is the truth. Then, I got a mail from another ItwoFS reader, Ajit Gopalakrishnan, which explained Pankaj’s role – then, I was both convinced and interested. Here was a musician alleging the same thing – that’s quite different from others indicating a similarity. Plus, the whole angle of a musician calling out another is very, very new! That is one of the main reasons why Hai Junoon went online in the site.

Pritam also says, “I told myself: ‘Don’t touch an English song since people have heard it’. I thought it would be better to be inspired by obscure songs without realising that the Internet has made the world smaller and even the most obscure song can easily be traced“. This totally shocks me, but I feel glad that an A-league composer actually had the guts to accept this so openly. Unlike, say, a Anu Malik who’s standard response was how the percentage of lifts in his illustrious career (again, it indeed is illustrious – but, that’s beside the point when it comes to allegations of plagiarism) is so miniscule.

And when he says, “Since the past one year, I’ve been consciously trying to reform and not be influenced. There will be exactly three embarrassing moments ahead for me“, the positive approach is definitely commendable, though I’d sure like to get to the bottom of those 3 songs’ obscure sources!

On a more personal note, given that I wear two hats – the ItwoFS hat, where I dissect musical similarity from a layman point of view; and the Milliblog hat, where I share my personal opinion on music, I have to add that I’m first an ardent music lover, who is simply curious about some songs’ origins. Its that curiosity that has grown into ItwoFS. And, I really do not listen to every piece of music trying to find its source or doubt its originality – it usually just happens! Yes, plagiarism is a bane in this country, but that shouldn’t stop a music lover from enjoying his music. I like Pritam’s music and look forward to his Love Aaj Kal – more so because its Imtiaz’s film. But as always, I’d be the first one to condemn a lift even in that soundtrack, if I were to find a convincing instance.