It was the month of April 2020; the whole country was in lockdown and I was stuck at home; with my music loving family. To pass a bit of time, my family played a lot of games, among which we played a lot of antakshari. After days of playing this, we realized that a lot of Hindi songs were very similar to some songs by foreign artists. So, we came up with a new game, identify the copy. Rules were simple, we played the original songs on our old hifi and the opposite team had to guess the name of the copied song or we would play the copied song and the original song had to be guessed.
After days of, “Oh that song was copied?? Really??” and “No way that song is not original”, I found out that a lot of our Bollywood musicians have done away with the complex process of writing a new song and just copy pasted from foreign artists.
Here’s some of my favourite picks which were surprisingly not a 100% original
- Koi Yaha Nache Nache from the movie Disco Dancer has copied the background track and the singing notes from the song Video Killed the Radio Star from the band The Buggles. Upon close listening, one will find that the entire background track borrows a lot from the original song and the signature “Aua Aua” has been blatantly copied without even putting an effort to make it sound Indian track. The Buggles released the song in 1980. It seems that Usha Uthup and Bappi Lahiri didn’t wait too long to create their new song for the movie in 1982.
- Neend Churaayi Meri from the Movie Ishq (1997) also borrows heavily from the song Sending All My Love by Tolga (1990). Close listening of both the songs reveals that the Hindi lyrics are direct translation of the English lyrics for most part. Even the Music is feels directly borrowed with some added sparkles on top to feel more Indian.
- Pretty Woman from Kal Ho Na Ho (2003) also has taken inspiration from Oh, Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison (1965). But taking inspiration for a song didn’t stop at listening to the song and building upon it, the Hindi counterpart clearly borrowed some lyrics, translated some of them and then added some more lines in Hindi. Some of the song has been remixed but listening to both the songs one after the other, one will clearly notice the similarity.
- Mehbooba Mehbooba from the movie Sholay has had a lot of influence from the song Say You Love Me by Demis Roussos. Yes, you read it right, this favorite track of every Indian that made it achieve the iconic status is not a hundred percent original. The iconic singing style which feels like an outdoor folk song and the background track have been directly borrowed free of charge. Even the original lyrics and the Hindi lyrics have the same story going of attracting a woman’s love.
- Laila Mai Laila from the Movie Qurbaani also has the same background drum beats and singing style as the Black Bood’s Chicano. Yes, read that right again. Another one of our Bollywood songs that evokes memories is unfortunately just another story of plagiarism
- Mere rang me from the movie Maine Pyar Kiya has copy pasted parts of the iconic track, The final Countdown by the band Europe. The starting of the Bollywood song borrows the Synth Trumpet from the original and replicates it with a normal trumpet. And all through the song hints of the original song track can be heard in the background. Why is it bizarre is because when you listen to mere rang mein you can almost catch yourself singing the final countdown too and you realise the two songs together make no sense at all
- Mera dil Gaye ja, zooby zooby zooby from the movie Dance Dance is the faster version of Brother Louie by Modern Talking. The Bollywood song has increased the speed of the song, added a slow intro at the beginning and replaced the lyrics. This made the song a hit in Bollywood.
- Hari om Hari by Usha Uthup is clearly copied from One way ticket by Eruption. The similarities of these songs are many. From the same background beats, replacing the lyrics, and having the same disco style, Usha uthup’s another famous song is actually a very well-made copy.
- Chandler (from friends) was right in saying that, “Gloria Estefan was right, the rhythm IS going to get you” so much so that, Bollywood song, Tirchi topi wale from the movie Tridev is a clear copy from Gloria Estefan’s Rhythm is Gonna get you. With the exact same background track, exact same opening vocals and replacing the lyrics, both the songs are very similar. If you play Gloria Estefan in a party, chances are your friends would look at you condescendingly and be like why you playing Tirchi Topi wale until it hits you.
- The song Mil gaya from the movie Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahi has used the same singing style as ABBA’s Mama Mia. The 10 minute Bollywood score that consists of the song Mil gaya was said at the time as to have been created completely from scratch but keen listeners immediately recognized the last part to have been copied from Abba hit Mama Mia.
Since ages Indian and Specially Bollywood song composers and writers have been influenced by foreign artists. This has led many to copy and quite literally use the same song into a Hindi version. The Bollywood music industry has copied from the likes of internationally well known artists and bands like Abba, Boney M, Europe, and also from less recognized artists and band too. This list can go on for very long,, but I leave it on to you the reader to explore and discover more songs which have been influenced and copied from some other song.