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Oscar-winner AR Rahman, who once criticised remix culture, receives flak for his rendition of Kazi Nazrul Islam’s ‘Karar Oi Louho Kopat’ in Pippa

The grandson of Kazi Nazrul, Anirban Kazi called it "an insult to the good faith with which the recreation licence was given to the production house". He said that he wants his family's name to be removed from the film's credit.

Music composer AR Rahman is receiving flak for his rendition of a popular patriotic song ‘Karar Oi Louho Kopat’ by renowned Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. AR Rahman has recreated his own version of the song for the movie Pippa.

The patriotic song against the British Raj was written by Kazi Nazrul in June 1922 at the request of freedom fighter Chittaranjan Das’s wife. The original tune is like a marching song whereas Rahman’s version sounds instrumental, melodious and playful.

The grandson of Kazi Nazrul, Anirban Kazi called it “an insult to the good faith with which the recreation licence was given to the production house”. He said that he wants his family’s name to be removed from the film’s credit.

“We could not fathom an artist, like Rahman, can be so insensitive and murder the song this way. As a protest, I don’t want our family’s name in ‘special thanks’ in the film’s credit line. That was one of the clauses in our agreement with the production house. I have shared my reservations with the production house,” he said.

Nazrul’s granddaughter Anindita Kazi reportedly called the version a “distortion”. She 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”.

Netizens across platforms including X and YouTube from both Bengal and Bangladesh have hit out at the Oscar-winning music composer. Some prominent personalities have also joined in the criticism.

X users go all guns blazing on AR Rahman

An X user named Aparup Saha demanded the withdrawal of the version made by Rahman. He wrote that the original ‘Karar Oi Louho Kopat’ is a patriotic song. He asked Rahman to learn about poet Kazi Nazrul Islam who dedicated the song to freedom fighter Chittaranjan Das.

Another X user named Swati Bardhan said that AR Rahman did not handle the revolutionary song properly. She said, “No one has the right to tamper the poetic expressions of the poet and that needs the huge understanding of the language.”

Another user, while expressing her disappointment with the new version, shared a link to another rendition of the song. “Karar Oi Louho Kopat isn’t a melodic folk song, it’s a song of rebellion. Besides changing the tune, #Rahman has changed the mood of the song, it’s very essence. Sorry, this is not creative freedom, it’s plain ignorance,” X user Tanushree Sengupta said.

A user named Subrata Sinha called for the boycott of the movie Pippa “for tampering” with the song.

Prominent voices join in the online protest

Chandra K Bose, Grandnephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose called the “distortion of the revolutionary song an act of sacrilege”. Bose took to X and said, “This kind of distortion of a revolutionary song which inspired many freedom fighters including the ‘Bose Brothers- Sarat & Subhas’, is an act of sacrilege. Strong condemnation on behalf of Boses.”

Author Taslima Nasreen also pointed out that AR Rahman changed the music of the “Bengali legendary poet”. She wrote, “AR Rahman changed the music of Bengali legendary poet, lyricist, composer Kazi Nazrul Islam’s famous 1921 anti-British song ‘Karar Oi Lauho kapat’. Bengalis are furious. They demand for stopping Rahman’s remake and keeping the original music of the song.”

Anandbazar Online in its report quoted Bengali music director Devjyoti Mishra, reportedly a friend of AR Rahman, who called the reworked song a “nightmare”. “I feel like I’m seeing a nightmare! I felt like I would wake up and see that nothing like this happened,” Devjyoti said.

Moreover, many in Bangladesh also protested against Rahman’s rendition. The Bangladesh Nazrul Sangeet Sangstha organized a press conference at the Kabi Nazrul Institute in Dhanmondi to lodge their protest.

Bengalis outrage on YouTube

Responding to the music shared by AR Rahman on the streaming website, a user named Bipul Krishna said that the melody of the song comes from the rebellious feelings of the rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam and it cannot be excluded.

A Bangladeshi fan of the composer, named Afroza Rahmat said that the rendition has left everyone thunderstruck and speechless.

She said, “I am from Bangladesh. I am one of your biggest fans. But sir, this time the rendition you have done to our National poet’s song has left all of us thunderstruck and speechless. Kazi Nazrul Islam is our national poet. Karar oi louho kopat is one of our major patriotic songs. The way you have changed the entire tune and music of this song is extremely painful for me, for all of us.”

She demanded that the song be removed.

“I am very careful of taking someone else’s work,” said AR Rahman in 2022

In an interview in 2022, AR Rahman said about remixes and re-made songs, “The more I see, the more it is distorted. The intention of the composer gets distorted. People say, ‘I am reimagining.’ Who are you to re-imagine? I am also very careful of taking someone else’s work. You have to be respectful and I think it is a grey area, we need to sort it out.”

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