So, which among these is tougher? To compose a song or to prove one’s rights over its composition? The latest bout of controversy pertains to the song ‘Thunjante Kaakalikal’, which was slated to be presented during the upcoming Keraleeyam 2023. The song has now been withdrawn from the official Facebook page of Keraleeyam after musician Jaison J Nair, who had originally composed the song, came up with the evidence to prove his rights over the work.
The piece had earlier appeared on the page with a claim of being composed by the students of the Government Swathi Thirunal Music College, Thiruvananthapuram. The track is originally the outcome of efforts put in by two Kottayam natives. While Kanakkari Somadasan penned the song, Jaison J Nair composed its lines.
Not the first time
Responding to the episode, Jaison J Nair said this was not the first time that the songs composed by him were being plagiarized. “One of my songs in the album Varsha is widely being used as a background score to scenes of nature and tourism. Even the students from different schools are seen using my songs for the school youth festivals. My direction to all those who work in the music industry is to be mindful about the related aspects of music such as the Copy Rights Act and APRS registration too”.
When music came to the rescue
“But then, I also have fond memories of being helped by people who either learned music from me or listened to my songs. For instance, in 1988, the Mahe police took us into custody while on the way to Kannur to sell off my sister’s vehicle. My friend, who was driving the jeep, had no driving license. We were taken to the police station, and the cops inspected our bags. Upon recovering a book containing several classical music songs (keerthanangal) from my bag, the Sub Inspector sought to know if I was a trained musician and also requested to render one of those songs. The cops thoroughly enjoyed my performance and, upon realizing the truth, they eventually let us go, bidding us goodbye pleasantly. For me, music is the same as agriculture. You can never steal the effort of a farmer. Likewise, you cannot take away the effort of any musician as well.’
Kanakkari Somadasan, who has penned several songs, has settled in the Gulf along with his family for the past one-and-a-half decade. Earlier, he used to work as a schoolteacher back home. Even now, he continues to write devotional songs.
Responding to the controversy, Somadasan says he was astonished to hear about the song theft. “I regard this as the ignorance of some youngsters, but the responses that followed from the teachers’ side were indeed painful. The college principal said corrective actions had been initiated by contacting the original owners of the song as soon as the fault came to notice. I too share the ownership of this song, but I’m yet to receive any call,” he said.
“Another response of theirs attempting to play down the controversy was by stating that only a couple of lines from Jaison’s song had been lifted. They, however, are yet to realize that this song was written by me. This is so exasperating. While being affectionate to their students, the teachers should also show the responsibility to correct their mistakes as well,” he added.