In a video published earlier today, 15 lyricists from the Hindi film industry demanded that they receive proper credit for their work on music streaming platforms and YouTube channels.
Titled ‘Credit De Do Yaar,’ it shows the lyricists taking a stand after being sidelined for eons.
“Currently, no music streaming apps/platforms have any algorithm of prominently displaying lyrics credits or making a song searchable by the lyrics writer’s name. On official YouTube channels of almost every big music company, hundreds of song videos have wrong or missing credits of lyrics writers. Be it legends like Sahir saab, Shailendra saab, Gulzar saab, Javed Akhtar saab, Anand Bakshi saab, Sameer saab or contemporary writers like Puneet Sharma, Abhiruchi Chand and others — this culture of apathy and erasure runs across generations. Respect is all we desire.”
Speaking to the Hindustan Times, Shailender Singh Sodhi, commonly known as Shelles, the lyricist behind films like Shahid, Manmarziyaan and Jawaani Jaaneman, highlights the fundamental concern in not properly crediting lyricists.
“There’s a rule: if the name is missing, the royalties from the song won’t come to you, be it YouTube or music apps. Unlike abroad, we don’t have the rights. These music apps have a different algorithm. If we are given our credits, we will start getting the royalty. But what about the royalties of the past? We don’t do any gigs or concerts like singers, who get paid Rs 40 lakhs sometimes. We just get paid peanuts once, and there are negotiations, and nothing after that. Then we have to resort to doing other things like dialogue and script writing to earn extra moolah,” says Shailender.
Besides their names not appearing on streaming platforms, there are other ways in which lyricists don’t receive their due credit. Some have their work plagiarised, while some songs are wrongly credited.
1) Genda Phool: Rapper Badshah fell into hot water earlier this year for the song Genda Phool for not crediting Ratan Kahar, an 85-year-old Birbhum-based folk artist, who originally wrote the hook “Boro Loker beti lo/lomba lomba chul/ emon chul e lagiye debo laal genda phool (Daughter of a rich man/ long, long hair/ I shall adorn such hair with a red marigold).”
After getting panned on social media, Badshah spoke to Kahar, paid him Rs 5 lakh and has offered to work on a song with him once the pandemic subsides.
2) O Saathi, Baaghi 2: In the song, there is a couplet, “Betaabiyaan Samet Ke Saare Jahaan Ki / Jab Kuchh Naa Ban Sakaa To Mera Dil Banaa Diya”, which was either written by poets Najmi Naginvi or Jigar Moradabadi. Credit for these lyrics on the official T Series YouTube channel, however, is given to a certain Arko with no mention of the poets.
3) Ek Chatur Naar: This iconic song from the 1968 cult-classic Padosan was originally sung not by Manna Dey and Kishore Kumar, but his brother Ashok Kumar in the 1941 film Jhoola. Originally written by Kavi Pradeep, the lyrics for the more popular version of the song, however, was solely credited to lyricist Rajendra Krishan.
4) Dilbar, Satyamev Jayate: On the T Series YouTube channel, the credit for the lyrics of one of last year’s biggest hits was wholly given to Shabbir Ahmed when originally the song was written by Sameer Anjaan.
5) Don’t Be Shy, Bala: On the Sony Music India YouTube page for the song ‘Don’t be Shy’ in the 2019 film Bala, the credit for the music was given to Sachin-Jigar, while Badshah and Mellow D were credited for the lyrics. However, on both counts, they failed to credit the original composer and songwriter Baljit Singh Padam, better known by his stage name Dr. Zeus, who delivered ‘Don’t be Shy’ performed by the girl group Rouge and the Punjabi smash hit ‘Kangna.’
Meanwhile, a YouTuber has compiled a list of 50 songs on the streaming platform, where official channels of music studios haven’t credited the lyricists for their songs. On streaming platforms like Spotify, the list goes into the hundreds. None of these songs would be what they are without the lyrics and therefore lyricists must be credited for their words.
Varun Grover, the lyricist credited with films like Gangs of Wasseypur and Udta Punjab, showed how to credit lyricists the right way. Writing a song based on legendary Hindi poet Dushyant Kumar’s ‘Tu Kisi Rail Si Guzarti Hai’ for the film Masaan, Varun reached out to both the late poet’s descendants and publishers and sought their permission to use just two lines from the poem.
If you visit the official Zee Music Company channel on YouTube, where the song is posted, you will find that Dushyant Kumar has been credited.
It’s not very hard to credit the original writers. Unfortunately, some don’t make the effort, but that needs to change now.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)