Karan Oberoi

Television actor and singer Karan Oberoi has written an open letter urging music honchos to pay royalties to musicians. (photo provided)

MUMBAI—In a very shrewd and smart move, television actor and singer Karan Oberoi has written an open letter urging music honchos to pay royalties to musicians, in the wake of Chitra Singh’s latest move against Saregama, Universal Music, T-Series, Tips, Sony Music, YRF Music and more.

Why is it shrewd and smart? Well, Oberoi is right now in defensive mode for his soft porn-like video as the backdrop of his re-creation of the 1960 classic “Chaudhvin Ka Chand” title song! But more on that later.

First, amidst the controversial discussion over the music royalties scam, Oberoi, who has been the core member of “A Band of Boys” and now has the band “Sunoh,” has given voice to his anger regarding the issue. Oberoi strongly feels that it is a much-needed revolution to power the future of the music industry.

In his open letter to all the music companies, Oberoi points out towards the egotism prevailing within the roots of the Indians. “We as Indians are basically corrupt by nature! It’s possibly a part of our genetic coding (Really, sir?!) and we have begun to believe that it’s perfectly okay to be self-serving, whatever be the cost to someone! And when that someone is a creator who is going to starve and be deprived of his legitimate earnings, while some “industry” or “music label” is going to laugh all the way to the bank, you know we have hit a moral degradation that’s difficult to surpass!”

The debate initiated after Javed Akhtar became a member of Indian Performing Rights Society in 2010 and went on to file a complaint against the non-distribution of royalties by IPRS. Top honchos of the industry are suspected of being involved in the scam. The issue gained momentum after the Enforcement Directorate summoned Aditya Chopra, the chairman of Yash Raj Films, Shridhar Subramaniam, vice-president of Sony Music India and Devraj Sanyal, MD-CEO of Universal Music, recently.

Expressing concern towards innumerable musicians and singers who die in abject poverty as they are not paid their share, Oberoi writes, “Forget about getting royalties, most of the time the vulnerability and naïveté of an artiste are taken completely for granted. This happens owing to the lack of awareness of what he deserves! We feed that misinformation!

“There are so many geniuses that have died in abject poverty after creating cult classics. Such songs till date are adding shiny new fancy car models to the ever-expanding “car collection” of some head honchos! I have myself never got a penny as an artiste from any society or publishing house, after doing three of the biggest hits of indipop!

“It’s such a sorry picture! The soul of a society perishes in the death of an artist! Not giving him his due, is akin to death!” he adds. Towards the end, Oberoi urges the music companies “to make money by all means but just give the deserver his legitimate hard-earned money for God’s sake.”

Though what Oberoi says is 100 percent true, what the man is trying to cover up is his absolutely cheap, voyeuristic and unabashedly sleazy version of the song and its video. Forget the tepid singing and the dull music, but there is obviously no relation between Shakeel Badayuni’s pristine and poetic lyrics describing the beauty of the beloved with the body language of Raina Ahluwalia and him that involves even lying on each other in minimal lingerie and moving suggestively!

This porno ‘worse-ion’ has been termed “awesome” by R. Madhavan and “sizzling hot” by Pooja Bedi (among other compliments from friends!), but is an extremely offensive re-treatment meted out to the Mohammed Rafi classic composed by Ravi that lives on almost six decades later. A Mumbai tabloid has actually had the gall to reproduce Oberoi’s version of the story. As some others have pointed out in this report, that tries hard to be unbiased by reporting the other side, it looks like a condom ad and is about “turning a gem into a gutter stone.”

The video is directed by ad filmmaker Shashi Bhushan and the track is a part of the 15-track album “Retronica.” Oberoi defends the content as “sensual, not sleazy” and even admits that he was hesitating to touch the song. Claiming a depth the concept does not have, he says, “Life in the industry appears glossy, but the truth is far from that.” The storyline is about a fan who comes to meet her idol and finding him shoot a sexy scene, imagines herself as the girl in it. Sure. But WHY did it have to be an intimate sequence?

Above all, Mr. Oberoi, will the heirs of Ravi, Shakeel Badayuni, Mohammed Rafi and (producer) Guru Dutt ever get a penny as royalties from your song? Will you ensure that you practice what you preach?

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