AR Rahman’s rendition of Kazi Nazrul Islam’s song in ‘Pippa’ faces backlash | Explained

Estimated read time 4 min read

AR Rahman’s rendition of a popular patriotic song of legendary Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam in the Bollywood film ‘Pippa’ has drawn flake. The litterateur’s family and singers have expressed outrage over the “distortion” in the rhythm and tunes. Makers of film have issued an apology after facing backlash. However, reports by TOI stated that Kazi Nazrul Islam’s grandson and granddaughter have refused the accept the apology from the makers.

The rendition of ‘Karar oi louho kopat’ (Iron bars of jail) was released in the war movie ‘Pippa’ which stars Ishaan Khatter and Mrunal Thakur in the lead. The film is based on real-life events that happened during the 1971 war between India-Pakistan which led to the birth of Bangladesh.

Here’s what happened:

Speaking to news agency PTI on 11 November, Nazrul’s grandson and painter Kazi Anirban said, “My 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.”

Nazrul’s granddaughter Anindita Kazi in a voice message from the US said, “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,” as quoted by PTI.

Popularly known as the ‘rebel poet’, Nazrul Islam, was born in 1899 in present-day West Bengal’s Paschim Bardhaman district. His songs, known as ‘Nazrul geeti’, are second in terms of popularity after those of Rabindranath Tagore in Bengal. He was named Bangladesh’s national poet.

Makers issued apology

The film was produced by Ronnie Screwvala under the banner of RSVP Movies and Siddharth Roy Kapur’s Roy Kapur Films and directed by Raja Krishna Menon. The makers recently released an apology.

Taking to X, the statement read, “In light of the current discourse surrounding the song ‘Karar Oi Louho Kopat’ the producers, director, and music composer of the film Pippa wish to clarify that our rendition of the song is a sincere artistic interpretation, embarked upon only after securing the necessary adaptation rights from the estate of the Late Mr. Kazi Nazrul Islam.”

“We have deep respect for the original composition and for the Late Mr. Kazi Nazrul Islam, whose contribution to the musical, political and social landscape of the Indian subcontinent is immeasurable. This album was created as a tribute to the men and women who dedicated their lives to the liberation of Bangladesh and keeping in mind the sentiments of their struggle for freedom, peace and justice,” the statement added.

The statement further read, “We approached the making of this song by faithfully following both the letter and the spirit of the license agreement for the lyrics, as duly signed with the Late Mrs. Kalyani Kazi and witnessed by Mr. Anirban Kazi.”

Nazrul Islam’s family rejects apology from makers

As per the Times of India report, Kazi Nazrul’s grandson and granddaughter have refused to accept the apology from the makers.

“An apology post on X is not enough for such disrespect. The least they can do is remove the song from the film, along with my mother’s and my name from the credit,” Anirban said as quoted by TOI. “I am not accepting the apology,” Anindita said as quoted by the daily.

The film is based on the book ‘The Burning Chaffees’ by Brigadier Balram Singh Mehta and is written by Menon, Tanmay Mohan, and Ravinder Randhawa. The film is currently streaming on the OTT platform Amazon Prime Video.

The title of the film is a tribute to the amphibious war tank called the PT-76 (Palavushi Tanka), popularly known as “Pippa,” akin to an empty tin of ghee that smoothly floats on water. This wartime saga narrates a story of patriotism and traces the coming of age of Captain Balram Mehta (essayed by Ishaan) of the 45 Cavalry Tank Squadron. Together, Balram Mehta and the Indian Armed Forces exemplify valour and courage, in a war for the liberation of another country.

(With inputs from PTI, ANI)

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Updated: 14 Nov 2023, 10:12 AM IST

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