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a r t i c l e s

hamara rahman

This is a news article on Rahman that appeared as an editorial in Times of India Dated 1st July 1995.

Tamil music director A.R. Rahman has scored the music for his first Hindi film and inadvertently sounded a high C for the melodious rhtyhm of the fusion music he has created -- with chart-topping, nation-wide success -- only for south-of-the-Vindhyas cine ventures so far. Hindi music aficionados might well rejoice that Rahman in the original will henceforth be available; no longer will there be need for the tortuous transmutation that his Tamil film songs underwent to reach audiences that waxed lyrical over Roja's "Choti si asha", and Bombay's "Hamma Hamma". But this change might have more currency than that. For, Rahman's trumpeted, indeed yearned for, entry into Bollywood may have done more to orchestrate the diverse strains of north-south celluloid culture into a tuneful symphony that can be imagined. To use the geographical cliche by which Indian school children learn their country's extremes, when people from Kashmir to Kanyakumari sway alike to say, Kaadalan's "Muqabala", albeit in different toungues, there is unity-in-diversity indeed. Only thus, of course, could Rahman's arrival on the Bombay film scene have been possible. It bears noting that Ilayaraaja, whose music also used to be variously copied by Bombay's re-mix rajas (because it was a refreshingly dissimilar) can hardly be said to have achieved the north-south harmony Rahman has. But even if the song and dance over Rahman's Hindi film debut seems a trifle overdone it might at least help focus on a more discordant matter. The 28-year old is quite easily the most imitated man of music in India -- seven clones at last count of the song "Muqabala" but once his original renditions emanate directly from Bollywood, even more brazen of his imitators might conceivably choose caution over capricious copying. That said, it may be noted that the Hindi film industry is notoriously unfetterd when it comes to frank plagiarism of any theme, storyline, melody or lyric that it chances upon anywhere in the world and fancies. Our disregard for intellectual property rights or more simply, the right a creative person has to maintaining the singular attributes of his work, may accord well with our outrage over process patenting that the west is hell-bent upon, but at least the legislative restraint on blatant copyright violation is now in place, even if belatedly. In May, an amendment was incorporated in the copyright act prohibiting version recordings for two years after the original hits the charts. But for all the legislative discouragement, the culture of unapologetic imitativeness may still flourish for there is little one can do when we, as a people, are nonchalantly accepting of such creative kleptomania. Rahman of course, has thrown up his hands at the gimcrack imitations he sees of his creations. As he stays unruffled by the copyists, or indeed a super stardom undreamed of when the eleven-year old played a keyboard to earn his living, the nation could do worse than swing to his fusion-anthem of change.

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