The Tamil film Ullathai Allitha with music by Sirpy was a landmark
film in a sense. Its one of those rare films (not sure if we got other movies
like this!) where every song was copied/ lifted. It wasn't even a remake of
another movie that the composer can give an excuse that the original's songs
fitted well in the remake (it was indeed the remake of Raj Kumar Santoshi's
Andaz apna apna in a way but the second lead of Salman in the Hindi went to
a sidekick comedian like Goundamani!). The songs are inspired from various
sources such as Bally Sagoo, Egyptian singer Hisham Abbas et all! Here goes the
list which also includes the same original lifted in Hindi too!
The lift is pretty much same with no major
changes, but Vani Jeyaram's singing elevates this Tamil ghazal to new
heights. In fact Vani Jeyaram fondly remembers this ghazal every time
she talks about her career in Tamil playback singing.
One of Veda's most
popular films, 'Adhe Kangal' had 2 prominent lifted songs. I had earlier
posted a few Hindi versions of the 1964 Walt Disney classic 'Chim chim
cher-ee' from the movie Mary Poppins. A Tamil version can be found in
Adhe Kangal too (the song 'boom boom boom maattukkaran'), but a fairly
good improvisation at that. Another lift from this movie was the song
'Oh oh ethanai azhagu' which was a direct lift from the Venturers hit,
Maddy maddy and theme from
Minnale [Film: Minnale]
Composer: Harris Jeyaraj
Harris Jeyaraj's debut film Minnale (Tamil, 2001) had a predominant
theme playing in the background, 'Maddy maddy'. This was also converted
into a song later and added to the subsequent audio releases. This song
along with the background music that plays in the music seems highly
inspired by Joan Jett's 1982 hit 'I love rock and roll'. I traced a copy
of the 'Maddy' song from the net but couldn't get the background music
that plays in the movie. That background piece is a much more direct
lift of Joan Jett's number! Please don't compare the following two
numbers....the maddy number is just a version of the bgm. If someone's
got the bgm I'm talking about, please do mail
Wonder what made Maragadhamani to resort to
this! The tamil song was based on raag Dharmavathy. And I've added the
opening segment of the song just to make sure people identify which song
I'm talking about!
Pennoruthi [Film: Gemini
Partly inspired by Shaggy's 'Why me lord' from the album Hot Shot
The lifts in Parthiban Kanavu are not tune-lifts but mere preludes, but the reason why I'm adding them here is
'cos they have been lifted as-is, with no improvisation whatsoever. The song,
'Theeraadha' has a prelude chant that has been lifted straight off a Native American chant called 'Ly-O-Lay Ale
(also called as the Counterclockwise Circle Dance!!) which has been adapted by quite a groups, including the Hungarian band
(this version sounds pretty good - mp3 available in the website!) and also has a remix by the Utah Saints. It has also been featured in the soundtrack of a movie by name 'Wolves' and has been a prominent feature in a world music compilation album called 'Sacred Spirits' - from which Vidayasagar must have lifted
it ditto! The second lift is in the much talked about song 'Enna seyya', which is the modern version of the 50s styled Tamil song 'Buck buck'. Again, the prelude has a string section that has been lifted from the String Quartet Bond's track
'Fuego' from their second album 'Shine' (2002).
Ayya Sami [Film: Or Iravu
Lifted from Edmundo Ros's 1945 track, 'Chico chico'
Like any other Indian inspiration M S
Viswanathan has used the Pallavi (opening) but uses his own imagination
further into the track.
Besides the fact that it sounds
a lot like Boney M's chartbuster, 'By the rivers of Babylon'
(1978) and somewhat like Biddu and Carl Douglas' 'Kung-fu
Fighting' (1974), the original Tom Dooley track has a long
history! 'Tom Dooley' is actually an old country ballad about a century-old murder in a small, rural county in the US. And the name is actually 'Tom Dula'. Its started with Frank Noah Profitt
of Mountain Dale, at the foot of Stone Mountain in Watauga County, where he learned how to make banjos and dulcimers from his father. Frank's grandmother, Adeline Perdue, who lived in Wilkes County during the Tom Dula trial, taught Frank the song, "Tom Dula." According to family legend, she saw Tom riding in a coffin, and as he strolled down the street to his hanging, he sang a song--the same song she taught her grandchildren. One day in 1937 a man from New York named Frank Warner visited them to buy a dulcimer. Warner was particularly interested in learning Appalachian folk songs, and Frank sang 'Tom Dula' among other songs sung by his Father-in-law. Warner used one of the first battery operated recorders to capture the songs Frank sang for them.
Surprised at the interest generated by the folk songs he had grown up with, Frank Proffitt decided to try to collect as many songs as he could. He sent a book of songs to Warner, who modified several of them and performed them himself. Shortly after that, in 1947, Warner shared "Tom Dula" with Alan Lomax, a professor at New York University, who published it in his collection titled "Folk Songs USA". In 1958, the Kingston Trio heard the song almost by accident, adapted it, and added it to their stage act. They renamed the song "Tom Dooley" and recorded it for their album that year. Frank Proffitt heard the Kingston Trio perform the song on the Ed Sullivan show and was completely surprised. Eventually Proffitt and Warner filed a joint lawsuit for legal claim to "Tom Dooley". Three years later, they began receiving royalties.
Like any other Indian inspiration M S
Viswanathan has used the Pallavi (opening) but uses his own imagination
further into the track. It's quite easy to guess how this song made it
into the Tamil movie - 'Raji en kanmani' was a remake of
Chaplin's 'City Lights' and City Lights uses 'La Violetera' in
one of the scenes! Though Chaplin had composed the other
tracks in the movie (quite a few people think that Chaplin
composed 'La Violetera' too!), he chose to use this Jose
Padilla track as the theme for the blind flower seller girl
character played by Virginia Cherril. I'm still not very sure
who's credited as the composer of 'Raji en kanmani' - a few
websites say it is T Sudarsanam, others say it is
Parthasarathy, while another site says it is Hanumantha Rao.
The interesting thing is that another site says that in those
days Gemini Films used to work as one single entity and did
not credit individuals - so the story was credited to 'Gemini
Story Group' and Music to 'Gemini Music Group' and so on.
Andangaakka [Film: Anniyan (2005)]
Composer: Harris Jeyaraj
Partly inspired from 1956 track 'Chinnanchiru chitte'
from the MGR-Bhanumathi
starrer 'Alibaba & 40 thieves'.
Why would a
debutant composer lift blatantly? I'm not sure, since I don't
know much about this guy, Paul J! Does he have any Sri Lankan
Update on the above:
Paul J is Paul Jacob of 'Bodhi
Records' fame and was the third person along with Suresh Peters and
A R Rahman to start the band 'Nemesis Avenue'. He is actively involved
in many world music projects including one (or a couple more)
in Sri Lanka. Is it just possible that he has reused his own
Sinhalese tune for KKS?
[Film: E (2006)]
of the 1956
track 'Chinnanchiru chitte'
from the MGR-Bhanumathi
starrer 'Alibaba & 40 thieves'
'Ilamai Ullasam' uses its
most prominent hook ('na na na na na'!!) from Ini Kamoze's 1994 chartbuster 'Here
comes the hotstepper' and the very successful, 'June pona'
is almost heartbreakingly similar to boy band Blue's 2001 debut,
'All rise'! While the former is fairly direct - same pattern,
tweaked pitch, the latter makes for a neat case study in
inspiration - similar organ prelude, the 'netru enbadhum' chorus
appearing in almost the exact same spot as the original,
plus the vocalizing effects in the background, its all there
in the Tamil version!
If you're wondering the mention of Wilson Pickett's 'Land of a
1000 dances' in
my Unnale Unnale music review, in connection
with 'Ilamai Ullasam' - its because, Ini Kamoze's is perhaps the
last known version. The original is called, 'Land of a 1000
dances' and was first recorded by soul singer Chris Kenner in
1962 - and this did not have this hook. The hook was added in
its 1965 cover version by Cannibal & the headhunters, but a
better known version is the 1966 cover by another soul singer
Wilson Pickett. Listen to all the versions (one above and 2
below) to see the evolution of his catchy hook. I distinctly
remember Ini Kamoze's version as part of the soundtrack of
Robert Altman's 1994 fashion industry satire film, 'Prêt-à-Porter'. Listen to
Land of a 1000 dances, by
Cannibal & the headhunters |
Karu karu vizhigalal
[Film: Pachaikili Muthucharam (2006)]
Composer: Harris Jeyaraj
Bears uncanny similarity to the
structure of Westlife's 2005 hit, 'Hit you with the real
thing' from the album Face to face.
And to think, this was one of the most
visible songs from the film, getting a lot of telly-play, along
with the 'Mahaganapathim' remake, 'Chennai Senthamizh'! In fact,
this catchy song has been quite adequately modified by the
composer who had added his own opening (mukhda) over the
Trivia on Hati Kama: Suhaimi Mohd. Zain, better known as Pak
Ngah, is the composer of the 1999 song 'Hati kama'. He is a
well-known and prolific songwriter in traditional Malay music
and has an almost complete monopoly in the Irama Malaysia music
genre. This particular song was the winner of the 1999 Juara
Lagu music event in Malaysia and was sung by Siti Nurhaliza and
[Film: Polladhavan (2007)]
Composer: GV Prakash Kumar
Seems to have borrowed a line or
two from Akon's 'Smack that'.
The song is a unabashed replica of Billy
Joel's 1977 classic, 'She's always a woman'. Note how blatant
the lift is by comparing the part where Billy goes, "Oh, she takes care of
herself" with its Tamil
equivalent and everything after that! Funny huh?
One of last year's most under-rated film scores in Tamil was
composer Joshua Sridhar's Ninaithu ninaithu paarthen (Milliblog
music review). The film had relative newcomers in the
lead and Madhu Ambat's cinematography. There were a couple
of pretty interesting songs in the soundtrack, most notably
the mod patriotic number 'Indhiya idhu' sung by the composer
himself. But another song from the film, 'Naana yaar idhu'
seems to have been unduly influenced by Asian Underground
star Nitin Sawhney - specifically the song 'Nadia' (rivers)
from his 1999 Mercury Music Prize nominated album, 'Beyond
Skin'. Nitin did not win the award, but this album was
critically acclaimed and was noted for its diverse genres.
Nadia had some amazing semi-classical vocals by Swati
Natekar amidst mild drum and bass, typical of Asian
Underground. Joshua's adaptation retains a large part of the
original's flavour and tune while adding considerable
electronic sounds so common these days in Tamil film music.
Interesting influence, this!
[Film: Vellithirai (2008)]
GV Prakash Kumar
Blatantly lifted off Keith Urban's
'Somebody like you'.
Its a bloody direct and ruthless
lift. The fact that it is by an upcoming, talented and young
composer really hurts since there's really no need at his
stage in career to resort to such blatant plagiarism.
Palinginaal oru maaligai
[Film: Vallavan Oruvan (1966)]
The song is a unabashed lift of the
jazz standard, Frenesi. Frenesi was first composed by Alberto Dominguez and
was later adapted as a jazz standard.
This is what I had posted in
the Trivia page of ItwoFS - before finding out the name of
the original :-)
I had recently come across a song from the
Tamil movie 'James Bond' (2000 - the movie has got nothing to do with
007, but the 2 lead characters are called James and Paandu!!) - the
song, 'Kannenna Misaarama', by composer S A Rajkumar. It is an exact
replica of an instrumental piece I'm very familiar with, but haven't
been able to recall its title/ group!! Every time I hear this Tamil
song, I can clearly recall the instrumental piece - most probably a
Spanish/ Latin kind of piece, though it does have Middle-Eastern
influences as it progresses, but have not been able to place the song. A
few things that came to my mind off-hand were the soundtrack of the
Vanessa Williams starrer, 'Dance with me', some film awards show in
which this might have been played in the background and so on. Just
listen to the Tamil song and see if you can identify the original!
Yedho ondru [Film: Laysa Laysa (2002)]
Inspired by the Christmas carol,
'God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen'.
This one is a fabulous find since it
shows the composer's intelligence in adapting a source. The
composer of the carol is unknown and there are multiple
versions of this carol...but it is supposedly
first published in 1833, in 'Christmas Carols Ancient
and Modern', a collection of seasonal carols gathered by
William B. Sandys. The post in Yahoo Group had a YouTube
link of the carol, beautifully sung by teen pop duo,
Aly & AJ. Harris' version is clever - it uses a very
similar structure with some dead giveaways ('To save us all
from Satan's power' will definitely make you smile :-) but
steers considerably away as it progresses to the hook,
Aathichudi [Film: TN07AL4777 (2008)]
Recreated from Sri Lankan singer
Dinesh Kanagaratnam's Suraangani Remix.
Composer Vijay Antony, who made sure
his name is cleared from the Rihanna-song lift in his smash hit
soundtrack, 'Kaadhall Vizhundhen', by getting the later
batches of the CD to add a note which said that the film's
director is responsible for this song's tune, is a soup now.
His smash hit song, Aathichudi from the Tamil remake of Taxi
Number 9211 (2006), itself a freemake of the Ben Affleck -
Samuel L. Jackson starrer,
Changing Lanes (2002), is a bloody lift.
The song, which by the way has incredible dance moves by
miss this video!!), is ripped off from Sri Lankan pop
Dinesh Kanagaratnam's Suraangani Remix. The remix is
high-energy and very catchy. Interestingly, as far as I
remember, the CD of the Tamil film credited Dinesh as only
the singer of this song. Its a great thing that Vijay Antony
got Dinesh himself to sing the Tamil filmy version, but he
quietly took the composing credit. There's a
YouTube video of Dinesh explaining the secret behind
this imbroglio, but he looks kinda scared during this video
(and it also looks like he's hiding in his loo while filming
this!!) - Dinesh, in his video, uses the term,
'collaboration'. The credits clearly do not support the
This is quite smart of Vijay Antony - keep the composing
credit for yourself and get the original singer to sing the
remix's remix, huh? Sounds like a very Mahesh Bhatt'ish idea
- get Pakistani singers to sing their own songs and pass on
the composing credit to a Bollywood composer. Not good!
Composing (original or remix) is totally different. If a
composer gets a singer from another country/ state to sing
his own song, the singer should get the composing as well as
the vocal credit - the Indian composer should be credited
only for the remix version, if at all he's added value.
Deva already has a lift to his (dis)credit in the
Madhavan starrer, Guru En Aalu, a lame and late remake of
Yes Boss, itself a freemake of the 1987 Michael J Fox
The Secret of My Success - the song, 'Veesuvadhu',
blatantly lifted from the Ivory Coast band, Magic System's
Bouger Bouger. Here's the second! The song from the film, 'Chellame'
sung by Udit Narayan is generously inspired by the song,
'Spun' by the American rap/ R&B band,
Flipsyde. The original was part of their 2005 album
titled, 'We The People'. Interestingly, Srikanth Deva has
lifted the backgrounds and prelude as is and seeks milder
inspiration for the main tune - but the similarity is quite
Title song [Film: Naanayam (2010)]
Lifted off 'Owner of a lonely heart'
by 80's progressive rock band, Yes.
Naanayam title song:
Owner of a lonely heart:
Newbie Tamil composer has had a
stupendous debut in Subramaniapuram - the song, 'Kangal
Irandaal' really went places and was judged the best song of
year 2008 by many magazines/ blogs. I had ranked it at No. 2
top 10 Tamil songs for 2008 in Milliblog too. James
followed it up with a decent enough score in the Tamil
Pasanga and had 2 audio releases in 2009, out of which, one
- Naanayam, (the film) came out in 2010, recently. For a
composer who was praised to the skies in his debut and who
is merely 4 soundtracks old, this lift comes as a shocker.
The song in question is Naanayam's title song (version 1, in
the CD) - it is nothing but a mildly improvised version of
the 80s progressive rock band, Yes' hit song, 'Owner of a
lonely heart' (from the album, 90125, released in 1984).
This is especially disconcerting not just for the
inspiration, but for the level of similarity - it is blatant
and James doesn't really make any serious attempts to
camouflage the lift. The prelude guitars and the prominent
hook - 'Na na na na naanayam' vs 'Owner of a lonely heart' -
are the most telling portions of the lift.
Thediyae [Film: Va Quarter
From Lenka's The Show
Lenka - The Show:
composer G V Prakash Kumar has produced quite a few good soundtracks in Tamil in
his reasonably short career so far and has even successfully shrugged off that 'Rahman's
nephew' tag. But, he also has his share of direct, blatant lifts in his limited
repertoire. The latest one comes from his soundtrack for Va Quarter Cutting. The
song, 'Thediyae thediyae', sung by Andrea Jeremiah, seems like it is generously
inspired by Australian singer,
song, 'The Show' (it was a part of her eponymous debut album). It's an
interesting lift, no doubt - the first 2 lines are used as-is and even the
backgrounds are ditto. The Tamil version takes on a nice trip from line 3
onwards but there is no doubt that Prakash has heard and likes the original by
Kaiya Pudi [Film: Mynaa (2010)]
From 'Can I Have This Dance?', from
the OST of High School Musical 3 (2008)
Can I Have This Dance:
This song seems to be massively
influenced by a completely unlikely original - the song,
'Can I Have This Dance?', from the OST of High School
Musical 3 (2008)!!!! There are many cues that link these
seemingly unlikely tracks together - the starting is
similar, tune-wise and even the lyrics seem to be inspired.
The Tamil song goes, 'Kaiya pudi, kannu paaru, ul moochu vaangu,
nejodu nee', which means, 'Take my hand, look into my eyes, take a deep
Now, compare it to the first 4 lines in the original,
"Take my hand, take a breath
Pull me close and take one step
Keep your eyes locked on mine,
And let the music be your guide."
Apart from that, even the line in the original that goes, 'Oh no mountains too
high enough, oceans too wide...'Cause together or not, our dance won't stop...'
has a tune that matches with the line in the Tamil song that goes, 'Oh,
unnayindri veru sogam enakkillaye...' (1:30) And there are more such small, but definitely
identifiable cues that nail this lift. Despite it's uncredited source, the Tamil
song remains a lovely composition that Imman can be almost proud of, but for
this small black mark! The way he adapts the original into a Tamil variant shows
the remarkable imagination that gone into this plagiarism effort! Credits for
the song in High School Music 3: Written by Adam Anders and Nikki Hassman
Performed by Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens
Produced by Adam Anders and Rasmus Bille Bähncke (as Rasmus "Raz" Bille Bahncke)!
Jagada Thom [Film:
G V Prakash Kumar
Borrows its prominent and repetitive
hook from Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan's 2007 song 'Truth' from
the album of the
Composer GV Prakash Kumar, after amazing
lifts in recent soundtracks like Va Quarter Cutting (Thediyae), is back again,
though, this time he has a subtler lift, in my opinion. So, we have the song 'Jagada
thom' sung by SP Balasubramaniam, Maya and Mahesh borrowing its prominent and
repetitive hook from Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan's 2007 song 'Truth' from
the album of the
same name. The song also featured Ustad Amjad Ali Khan Saheb And
I'm so tempted to say, 'Here we go
again...'. I suppose G V Prakash Kumar is the only modern day
composer who consistently feeds good fodder for this website; my other regulars
like Pritam have all turned good. I'm not complaining though - that's way it
should be - I want less and less newer music added in this website. But, for the
moment, let us turn our attention to G V Prakash Kumar's latest track called,
'Pa pa pa' from the Vikram-starrer, Deivathirumagal. It is inspired generously
by the Sean Penn starrer 'I Am Sam' (2001). Perhaps Vikram was looking for a
'national' award for his 'mental' act (the coarse way mass audience usually -
and unfairly - address such performances)...but, if it is inspired, it only
deserves a 'notional' award, in my opinion. As for the song, 'Pa pa pa' is a
replica of Roger Miller's 1973 track called 'Whistle-stop' that
he wrote and sung for the
Disney version of Robin Hood (featuring animals as inhabitants of Nottingham).
It is disconcerting to see young G V Prakash Kumar lift tunes so unabashedly.