Monday, February 01, 2010

आज तक कोई भी रहा ही नहीं

On the Day, A.R. Rahman shared another award for Jai Ho with Gulzar, there is a controversy raging in India whether Gulzar lifted a popular Ishqiya song from a poem written by Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena. Saxena had written a poem for kids “Ibn-e-batuta, pahan ke juuta, nikal pade tuufan mein” and Gulzar wrote a song in Ishqiya as an obvious tribute to Saxena and gave his own twist to it “Ibn-e-batuta, bagal mein juuta, pahne to kartaa hai churrr”. Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena is not alive to see this day when half-wits with little knowledge of his work or Gulzar’s for that matter were dragging both of them in a controversy that is not. My own little survey of 10 people by showing them both these poems/songs threw a scary result. 9 out of 10 said it was plagiarism because the “meaningless” word Ibne batuta had been invented by Saxena and hence Gulzar should have invented his own to rhyme with juuta. These nine did not know that Ibn-e-Batuta was a living creature who walked this earth. But that’s sad, and not so infuriating as calling Gulzar a thief. If that’s how we are going to decide, then Faiz, Insha, Kaifi or Faraz all of them can be accused of committing theft.

If we accuse Gulzar of plagiarism for “Ibn-e-Batuta” then he is never been original. The hugely popular Kar thaiya thaiya is by Bulle Shah. The opening lines of “Dil dhoondhta hai phir wahi fursat ke raat din” is lifted in its entirety from a ghazal by Ghalib titled “Muddat huii hai yaar ko mehmaan kiye hue”. Yet I would recognize it as a Gulzar song and it will remain a Gulzar song. Because he has written it. Period. In fact, Ghalib’s kaafiyaa has been used by poets from Faiz to Gulzar as they weave their own words around the great man’s words to create poetry that resonates with original thought and déjà vu. This is a tradition in Hindustani poetry that goes back to the origins of Hindustani poetry.
And most readers understand the obvious yet subtle tributes. They are never called a tribute to X or Y. I am reminded of many films where great filmmakers pay tributes to past masters or people they admired by designing a scene around a memorable scene from the past. They don’t subtitle it as this scene is a tribute to X. They expect the viewer to understand and rejoice in it.
No one went to Gulzar and asked him before throwing dirt at him. He would have told them of tens of his own work lifted from popular folk or poetry of the great masters. That’s one of the problems with journalism today, an industry I am part of. But it goes beyond this. Ahmed Faraz wrote a heart-breaking nazm about sectarian violence in Pakistan titled Ae mere Logo. Now, we had a patriotic song called Ae mere watan ke logo, immortalized by Lata. Should Faraz credit the songwriter because three words are common? Both these works are entirely different in their treatment and purpose. My answer is no. In Ibn-e-batuta case, it’s so obviously a tribute to Saxena’s poem for kids. By that logic, Jai Ho is too similar to Jai he by Ravindranath Tagore. And the Lage Raho Munnabhai song "Bande mein tha dum" should be attributed to Bankim Chandra Chatterjee for the words Vande Mataram. And "Chal Akela Chal Akela" by Mukesh was a Tagore song.

Pity, Gulzar writes for films where too many thieves masquerade as originals. It is easier to cast aspersions on Bollywood because there are too many phonies inhabiting that world. Gulzar is a misfit and his white kurta is tainted because of this association. Piyush Mishra played around the Jinhein naaz hai Hind par wo kahan hain in Gulaal to perfection. It was an original. But then with people in mood to attack Gulzar for Ibn-e-Batuta, he should hide.


Pagal Patrakar said...

I Googled for this so-called controversy over Gulzar 'lifting' the songs (I was infuriated with noobs who accused Gulzar of this), and I was so happy to find your blog as one of the top results!

I have EXACTLY the same feelings that you have put here. Brainless assholes with no idea about creativity and literature are tying to pass judgments. I just wish more and more people, who unfortunately might be confused after reading this news, happen to land on your blog and read this post.

Thanks for making me feel better after!

Pagal Patrakar said...

*Thanks for making me feel better!

NotFunnyNotFamous said...

This what happens when people comment on things they don't understand! Brilliant post this and thanks to Pagal Patrakar for tweeting this.

Another popular example: Nida Fazli(who wrote the ghazal for Jagjit Singh) and Kaifi Aazmi sahab:

कभी किसी को मुकम्मल जहाँ नही मिलता
कही ज़मीन कहीं आसमा नही मिलता - Fazli

मैं ढूंढता हूँ जिसे वो जहाँ नही मिलता,
नयी ज़मीन नया आसमान नही मिलता

नयी ज़मीन नया आसमान भी मिल जाए
नये बशर का कहीं कुछ निशान नही मिलता - Aazmi

One of my friends called this plagiarism but it actually isn't. If only people knew before they spoke.

Loved this post.

Kamakaze said...

Thanks. It's nice to know I am not alone. I was too angry at TV reports talking nonsense all day.

Pablo said...

You are not alone, because for every 5 (or 6) assholes in this country, there is a non-asshole who listens to the voice of reasons.

Those motherfuckers (I choose my words carefully) who think they can taint Gulzar sa'ab are of the category who thought that Dhen Te Nan was a copy of a song in a TV serial (which was written by Gulzar, but who cares!!! I dont want to know the facts, I just want to throw dirt, yippee!)

In India the difference between 'referencing' and plagiarism is not clearly understood. So we have a bastard like Pritam who lifts entire tunes and wins awards for Best Music Director. Ibn-Batuta's name is very common, and need be anyone can use it in a song. It would be like saying any song with a reference to (say) Moon is a copy of a million other songs with a reference to the Moon.

Jitendra Mehra said...

Bro, thanks for the info! really a great post by a fan of Gulzar!

sargam said...

whatever u wrote is absolutuely right and makes sense. it was more of a tribute, not plagiarism!

Roushan said...

Completely agree with you dude... very nicely written... this controversy has hurted all Gulzarianns and these sensationalist media should seek an apology from Gulzar Saab...

I am sure that even these so called News channels n news reporters(so called because they show/write everything except news) don't even know who Ibn-e-batuta was. they had enough time to find similarities between both of the songs... i wish they could have spent some time reading the history book and tried getting their facts and understanding right....

bacteria said...

i wonder if leigh hunt will also be called a plagarist, for he wrote the original tribute to ibn-e battuta (full name :Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta ) in his most famous poem abou ben adam

Anonymous said...

Let me start by saying: I too like Gulzar Sahab and his lyrics like all of you. But this is strange...this is deja-vu of a bizzare kind. While reading another poem titled 'Aksar ek vyatha' by sarveshwar Dayal Saxena some months back I remembered Gulzar. Film 'Kaminey' had released around that time and one of its songs 'Pehli baar mohabbat ki hai' had these lines -
'yaad hai pepal ke
jisak ghane saaye the
hunme gilhairi ke jhoote matar
khaaye the'.

I was surprised to read striking similar lines in Sarveshwar Jee's poem, which went like this -
'Suraj ko gilhari
ped par baithi khaati hai
aksar duniya
matar ka daana ho jaati hai'.

And now the recent controversy involves Gulzar Sahab plagiarizing the same poet! Is it just a coincidence? Or is it a case of subconsciously following someone whose work you may have admired all this while.

I am also aware of the fact that Gulzar Sahab writes regularly for a children magazine called 'Chakmak', published from Bhopal. Last year, Sarveshwar's poetry 'Ibn-e-batuta, pehen ke joota' was published in this magazine. May be Gulzar Sahab got exposed to it then or got inspired from there.

No one doubts Gulzar Sahab's talent but it is too much of a coincidence to ignore! And when it comes to showing solidarity, there isn't much choice between a poet and a lyricist. Especially in the light that Sarveshwar Jee is not alive to defend his own work, which he must have painstakingly conceived and crafted.

Priya said...

I agreed with Mr. anonymous and writer of this post as well. This is of subconscious mind.

દીપક said...

आज पहेली बार सर्वेश्वर दयालजी को पढा...बहोत ही अच्छा लगा!

गुलज़ार साहब की बात और है....फिल्मो के लिए लिखना, वो भी साहित्य के दायरो में....बहोत मुश्किल है! सिर्फ गुलज़ार साहब ही एसा कर सकते है।