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Last Updated: Monday, 11 August, 2003, 23:36 GMT 00:36 UK
Stir over India's raunchy remixes
By Monica Chadha
BBC correspondent in Bombay

Indian musicians say their work is increasingly being plagiarised in remixes and are demanding royalties for their use.

Many record companies are releasing old Bollywood songs remixed to suit the tastes of Indian youth and often accompanied by a raunchy music video.

The original composers and lyricists are unhappy.

Not only are they deprived of royalties but they say they are also not informed of the new versions until after release.

Recently, they met senior government ministers and even approached the prime minister's office.

They have asked for new laws to be passed ordering record companies to obtain prior permission before releasing a remix album and to pay royalties due to the original composer and copyright holder.

Chart toppers

Most of the remixed songs were originally hits in movies released in the 1970s but in some cases go back as far as the 1940s.

The remixes look set to continue until a new fad takes over

The songs are marketed in music videos that usually show young, scantily-clad female dancers.

The response has been tremendous- almost every remixed song goes straight into the charts.

Narendra Kusnur works with the Mid-Day newspaper and has tracked the Indian music industry for the past 10 years.

He says the reason remixes are all the rage is the low investment required to put an album and accompanying video together.

"They take hit songs that have succeeded in the past so the likelihood of them succeeding again is very high.

"Another reason is the way they promote them through raunchy videos. Sex sells in movies, sex sells in music videos."

Raking it in

A remix album can sell anything from 700,000 to more than two million copies.

One remix song, Kaanta Laga [A Thorn Hurt (Me)], was promoted by a music video that featured a skimpily-attired young girl trying to seduce her boyfriend at a party.

It was such a melodious song, they've completely ruined it
Naushad, music director

The album it came from sold two million copies.

These sales mean big profits for the record companies, but for the composers it is a different matter.

Not only are they upset at receiving no royalties, they are also often angry at the manner in which their songs are portrayed.

They say the sexy videos are a complete distortion of the creativity and thought behind the original song.

Naushad is one of India's most highly respected music directors.

One of his songs was given the remix treatment and he says the producers spoilt it beyond recognition.

"It was such a melodious song, they've completely ruined it. It was a song sung by a woman who is waiting for her lover to return to her.

Vijay Lazarus
Indian Music Industry's president would welcome tougher laws

"Now they've remixed it and the accompanying video has near-nude women dancing in it. They've spoiled the true meaning."

Naushad says he would rather not have the royalty money than have his compositions treated with such disrespect.

As for the record companies, there is general consensus that although these remixes help the bottom-line, India needs stricter copyright laws.

Vijay Lazarus, chairman of Universal Music and president of the Indian Music Industry, says: "We are also a publishing house and often don't get proper accounting for the goods that are sold and the five per cent royalty payable to us.

"If we have a stricter copyright law in place, then we can get into formal deals with people who respect creativity and can give us royalties."

But it may take a long time before such a law is passed, and remixes will continue to dominate the charts until the record companies find another way of making people dance to their tune.

Bollywood's sexy new trend
08 May 03  |  Entertainment
India's music industry perks up
28 May 02  |  Business
Indian music piracy crackdown
03 Aug 00  |  South Asia

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