Intha Raja Kaiya Vecha,…,…!

Today was just another Sunday morning. As I turned on the ignition of my car for a Sunday morning drive, Ilayaraja’s (Raja) hits started playing. On top of the playlist was Raja Kaiya Vecha,…,… from the hit film Apoorva Sagotharargal.  There are 2 versions of this song – one sung by Kamal Haasan himself which eventually featured in the film and the other sung by S.P. Balasubramanyam (SPB) which just got retained in the music album. Its’ very rare that a song sung by SPB and composed by Raja gets consigned to just the album. As I was enjoying the interlude in that song which has some awesome feet tapping music, the CD started playing truant and was jumping few tracks and eventually it stopped. My Sunday morning tryst with Raja-SPB duo got aborted midway. At that point in time, I had no premonition of what was to follow later.

Reaching home, soon I could see SPB’s Facebook post going viral where he claimed that he has been served legal notice by Raja’s attorney for singing Raja’s compositions without prior permission in his recent World tour stage shows. And that in the rest of the shows, he may not be singing Raja’s songs. Difficult to believe, the first reaction was of course “Why would Raja take such an extreme step against SPB who was a close friend, associate and a fellow traveller in his music journey?” In a spat involving these 2 namely Raja and SPB for people like me who have grown up with the music of the 70’s and 80’s it is difficult to take a stand. On the one hand you have Raja, a genius and whose music transcends all superlatives. And on the other hand you have a singer who even today can give an Arijit Singh a run for his money with his mellifluous voice and versatile singing. While a lean and fit Raja is known to have a bloated ego, the physically fuller SPB comes across as a man of humility and feather lite ego. Even in this FB post he didn’t have one word of disrespect for Raja and admitted his own ignorance of legalities. He won the hearts and the sympathies of the fandom.

To be fair, it was important to hear out Raja’s side before getting judgemental on his action. And soon in the course of the day we did get to see the same through Raja’s legal consultant who was probably behind shooting this legal notice. As expected he talked of violation of IP rights, royalty payments,…,… The issue of copyrights and Intellectual property rights (IP) on music compositions have of late become a bone of contention between music composers, Lyricists and film producers. The fact of the matter is till about the first decade of this millennium, lyricist and music composers were blissfully unaware of their Intellectual copy rights with a result they were never paid royalty by producers for their creations. Only recently, with the exposure to Hollywood,.. the composers and lyricists became aware of their IP rights. A.R. Rahman now owns the IP for all the music he creates.

Looking up on the issue of Indian Copyright Act, I understood that in 2012 the amendments made to the act set right the historical anomaly of being not beneficial to the creators. Famed Hindi lyricist Javed Akhtar was instrumental in getting the amendments passed. Historically, Indian film producers just paid a one-time fee to song writers, composers and singers. And denied them revenues from other sources like cover versions, ringtones, digital downloads,.. which have become increasingly lucrative.

The amended bill now makes song writers and composers as owners of the copyright which cannot be assigned to the producers as per earlier version. More importantly, as a recurring source of revenue, it is now mandatory for broadcasters – Radio, TV and Digital to pay a royalty to the copyright owners each time the song is played.

It seems that it is now part of the standard operating procedure for singers to take formal permission from the music composers before performing their songs on stage. And as part of this process, the acceptance to pay the applicable royalty. So it comes as a surprise that event producers of SPB’s recent concerts missed this point of not informing or taking Raja’s permission for singing his songs. So from a purely legal standpoint, it is clear that Raja has not hit a wrong note on this matter. But then SPB is not just another singer. He has been a constant companion to Raja all through, with the duo churning out some thousands of hits. It is today hypothetical to argue if the duo’s songs were hits because of Raja’s music or SPB’s singing.  For a fan the Raja-SPB combination was magical and together they have given some evergreen, everlasting music which will continue to live forever in his/her heart.

From Raja’s side could it have been handled differently? Certainly one would feel so. Instead of a legal notice, a friendly call to remind the SPB camp of the IP issue would probably have settled the issue under wraps. Unless otherwise we are not privy to some larger conflict of interests between the two themselves or their minders. In which case after Vairamuthu and Bharathiraja SPB could be the latest to land on the other side of Raja’s symphony.

‘Intha Raja Kaiya Vecha,…. Wronga ponathilla,.. ‘goes the song.  The genius lyricist Vaali wrote this line probably keeping Ilayaraja in mind on his music. But on this issue, it appears Raja has hit a wrong note! He probably should lay his hand on the phone to call SPB and undo this wrong bit, unless Raja chose to use syncopation!!!

Being an ardent of fan of both Raja and SPB, to me what has happened is sad and disappointing. In terms of taking sides on this spat, the head wants to go with Raja and the heart with SPB. But then the ears are always with the duo!!!  Let the Andhi Mazhai continue to pour!!!

0 thoughts on “Intha Raja Kaiya Vecha,…,…!”

  1. Very sad to see that people who appear to be spiritually inclined are still stuck with money. Well written and well expressed !!

  2. Anand…that way all the music troupe who perform in marriages or functions shud also not sing his songs….But Raja has not invented the carnatic ragas which he has used extensively to create his compositions

    1. Hi MVV, I think the issue is around stage shows by popular artists which rake in big bucks and not the local orchestra,.. Also the stage shows also have other revenue streams like satellite TV rights, Digital TV rights and then Youtube views and so on. As I mentioned in the blog, purely from a legal stand point, Raja is right. The only issue we have is considering the long partnership he has been having with SPB, probably they could have talked it out of the media glare. We still don’t know the real story/background which resulted in this. As a fan this is sad and disappointing!
      Thanks for chipping in!

  3. You are right in saying that Raja could have dialled SPB and others before a legal notice.With out SPBs voice Rajas composition alone could not have shined. SPB has given Life to the songs. Raja might be having so many compositions Unsung. Ilayaraja songs are famous due to lyrics and the Voice that sings,not the composition alone.Raja might have been prudent enough, but he has lost balance, for earnings.

    1. Thanks Arun for the feedback! If Raja had fired this notice on probably an upcoming but talented singer I am sure the reaction would not have been so hostile. So it is also because the person involved is SPB who we all equally adore!!!

  4. Raja should hv sorted out the issue by talking to SPB before sending out legal notice as u rightly said. According to me the composition and the voice make the song beautiful and a hit. So it is gud for both if they sort out their differences and continue to entertain us. Singers also should hv some rights over the songs they sing. more than the music a layman enjoys the voice which sings the song. its tym that raja understands this.

  5. தோழன்

    வணக்கம் ஆனந்த் !!

    தங்களது. ” ராஜா கைய வச்சா “, இசைஞானி, SPB பற்றிய பதிவாய்ப் பொழிந்த அந்தி மழையில் நனைந்து, ‘ ஆனந்தக் ‘ களிப்புற்றோம் !!

    இளமையான தென்றல் போல் தவழ்ந்து வந்த பூங்காற்றாய்,

    தங்களது எழுத்துத் திறனில் வந்து விழுந்த, ஆங்கிலச் சொல்லாட்சியைக் கண்டு வியப்புற்றோம் !!

    இரண்டு இசைச் சிகரங்கள், சக்கரவர்த்திகள்,

    [ முன்னவரின் பல பிரமிக்கத்தக்க ட்யூன்களிலும், பின்னவரின் காந்தக் குரலிலும் ]

    சேர்ந்து வழங்கிய பல பாடல்களில் மனதைப் பறி கொடுத்தவர்களில் யாமும் உண்டு !!

    அவர்கள் இருவரும் வழங்கிய, பல பாடல்களுக்கு நீங்கள் சொல்வது போல்,

    நம் காதுகளை மட்டும் கொடுப்போம்,

    தெவிட்டாத தேனாய் ஒலிக்கும் அவர்களது பாடல்களைக் கேட்டு ரசிப்போம், மெய் மறப்போம்,

    இசைஞானியுடன் செல்லும் மூளையையும்,

    SPBயுடன் போகும் இதயத்தையும் சற்றே தள்ளி வைத்துவிட்டு,

    இந்த ஒரு பொன் மாலைப் பொழுது ல், அவர்களது musical journey ல் சக புரயாணியாக மட்டுமே பயணிப்போம் !!

    அந்யந்த நட்பும், பரஸ்பரம் அன்பும், மரியாதையும் பாராட்டும் இரண்டு நட்பு உள்ளங்களும்,

    தற்போது ஏற்பட்டிருப்பதாக நாம் நினைக்கும் பிணக்கிலிருந்து விடுபட்டு,

    இறைவனின் அருளால், தானே இணையட்டும்,

    நமக்கு அவர்களின் என்றென்றும் தெவிட்டாத இசையை வழங்கட்டும்,

    நம் இறை அனுபவத்திற்கு !!

    நட்பில் இவ்வாறு ஏற்படுவது, தெய்வத்தின் லீலைதான் போலும்,

    அந்த நட்பை மேலும் வலுப்படுத்த !!

    அதுவரை, நாம் அமைதி காப்போம் !!

    உங்களது அழகான ஆங்கில எழுத்துப் பணி தொடர வாழ்த்துக்கள் !!


    தங்களின் வலைப் பதிவு பக்கத்தில் வெளியிட்ட சில பகிர்தல்களைப் படித்து,

    தங்களது ஆச்சரியமான தலைப்புக்களுக்கும்,

    அவை உள்ளடக்கிய அற்புதமான பதிவுகளுக்கும்

    மனதைப் பறி கொடுத்த,

    பல ஈ. ஆர். பள்ளி மாணவரில் ஒருவன் !!

    1. மிக்க நன்றி, தோழா!
      உம்முடைய தமிழ் உரையின் தரம் கண்டு வியந்தேன். மகிழ்தேன்.
      என்னுடைய பதிவுகளை படித்து என்னை ஊக்குவிப்பதற்கு நன்றி!
      நீங்கள் யார் என்பதையும் சொல்லி விடுங்கள்😊

  6. I have always heard that an advocate practising in Divorce cases always wants a case. For the advocate it’s business. Many time couples who probably don’t want a divorced at all would end up with one due to the influence of the advocate. What I mean is that it’s tough for me to believe Raja sir would have money alone as an issue, even if so its probably instigated by some external party. It could be anyone from family or the legal team.

    It’s natural for anyone who has slogged and is the best in what they do have not earned money during their peak. Until 2000 or so money had way more value. In any field art, sport, music, dance the earlier generation got paid lesser than what kids of these days get. That’s the yugam. With funding and the purpose of running business itself has changed these great people would be tempted for money.

    I feel if Raja sir wanted money he could have demanded way more during the days he was in more need for the industry. For us it’s music but for many it’s business and livelihood

    1. It certainly came as a surprise. We probably don’t know the full story yet! Being the copyright owner seeking royalty for his songs which rake in big bucks from stage shows of top artists or TV shows,.. is par for the course I feel. The issue has heated up considering the people involved whom we all adore for their talent and body of work. Also the fact that they have been collaborating together for decades since their entry into cinema!!!
      Thanks Dileep for weighing in!

  7. Without going into the nuances of the law, I firmly believe its a mockery, if a singer can’t sing his song at a concert and needs to get someone’s permission. Ridiculous. Imagine if Lata Mangeshkar was barred from signing ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon’ because she had a spat with C Ramchandra!! Sad situation, song is a creation not just of composer and lyricist but also of the singers, esp. of legends like SPB.

    1. True, but the existing law gives ownership of the creation only to the producer, composer and the lyricist!
      This spat has brought the faultlines in the copyright act, role of IPRS, the issue of royalty,.. out in the open! Hopefully this helps in better enforcement of the existing law/ bringing about suitable changes.
      Thanks for reading and for your views

  8. May not be legal, but i strongly believe the contribution of the Lyricist in success and popularity of a song, more so in the prevailing situation, where beautiful lyrics are penned to suit pretuned

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