A R Rahman draws flak for 'distorting' Bengali poet Nazrul Islam's freedom song in 'Pippa'

Nazrul's grandson and painter Kazi Anirban said that his mother had given her consent for using the song for the movie but not for changing the tune. Photo | Instagram

Kolkata: A R Rahman's rendition of a popular song of legendary Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam for the latest Bollywood release 'Pippa' has kicked up a storm on social media. The common people and the litterateur's family expressed outrage over the distortion of the rhythm and tune of the song, demanding that the new version be removed from public domain with immediate effect.

The rendition of 'karar oi louho kopat' (Iron bars of a jail) was released in war movie 'Pippa', starring Ishaan Khatter and Mrunal Thakur in lead roles. Following the song's release, many took to social media to express their outrage over A R Rahman's rendition.

“This is not what we expect from a composer like Mr. Rahman , this iconic song is our emotion , not only to us Bengalis but all those tens of thousands of bravehearts from different religions who fought till their last breath and got encouraged by this masterpiece, the kind of music which can be so intertwined with our soul can not be distorted like this. I strongly recommend turning down this composition,” wrote one person.

Nazrul's grandson and painter Kazi Anirban said that his mother had given her consent for using the song for the movie but not for changing the tunes. “The way the song has been dished out with the change in rhythm and tunes is shocking," he told PTI.

Nazrul Islam, popularly known as the 'rebel poet', is the national poet of Bangladesh and is a revered and much-loved figure in India's West Bengal. Nazrul's granddaughter Anindita Kazi said in a voice message from the United States: "As members of his family and lovers of his creations, we cannot accept this distortion. We want it to be immediately omitted from the film and removed from the public domain."

'Pippa' released on Prime Video recently. Movie still | YouTube

Popular Bengali singer Haimanti Shukla said sentiments have been hurt by the "act of sacrilege". "I wonder how a composer like AR Rahman could make this happen... No such tinkering with songs of Kazi Nazrul Islam can be allowed. It is shameful for the Bengali singers who were part of the rendition. I am deeply outraged," she said.

The lyrics of the song was first published in 'Banglar Katha' magazine in 1922 and was included in Nazrul's book of poems 'Bhangar Gaan'. It was first recorded in 1949 by a famous label and then in 1952 by another record label.

The rendition also created a social media outrage, with netizens wondering whether Rahman did research before dishing out the song. Historian-researcher Chinmoy Guha, however, criticised the outrage, claiming that Bengalis are expressing ire despite seldom caring to read or listen to Nazrul's works. Rahman, however, could not be contacted for remarks on the controversy.
(With IANS inputs)

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