Salman Khan may have expressed his desire to be part of Bajrangi Bhajain’s Pakistan premier but it seems like not all on this side of the border will be welcoming the film – specifically in terms of its use of Bhar Do Jholi.
The qawwali was revamped with the voice of Adnan Sami Khan for the Salman Khan-starrer and went viral soon after its release. However, it received mixed reviews, with many finding it bland owing to the incompatibility of Adnan’s sweet vocal texture for something as raw as a qawaali. But a legal battle by the qawaali’s original producers that has followed its release makes the quality of the soundtrack a rather trivial matter.
Pakistan’s biggest record label EMI Pakistan and Amjad Sabri qawwal, heir to the famous Sabri brothers, have called for legal action against the producers of the film and the qawwali in separate instances.
“Revamping the qawwali without my permission or consent is simply unethical and inappropriate,” Amjad Sabri told Roznama Express. “This is not an ordinary Kalaam; it’s the property of my family and will continue to be so for the coming seven generations. This is an asset of my father Ghulam Farid Sabri and my uncle Maqbool Sabri.”
The version used in the film has been reworked by well-known composer Pritam Chakarborty and the film is being produced by Salman Khan Films and Kabir Khan Films.
Amjad is not only unhappy by the work ethics of the Indian producers but is also disappointed at the quality of the Bollywood version of the qawwali. “They have not done justice to the heritage of our elders and I have hired a lawyer to sort out this matter,” he said.
EMI Pakistan, on the other hand, are all set to send separate legal notices to Salman Khan Films and Kabir Khan Films, Media Concepts (the company responsible for airing the film’s music in Pakistan) and also to 8xM and Jalwa music channels, which are subsidiaries of Media Concepts.
“The Qawwali Bhar do Jholi is an EMI product which was not only released by EMI Pakistan but also recorded and produced under our banner. None of the authorities involved in the making of Bajrangi Bhaijan approached us to acquire the rights to the qawwali and as a result, we have sent them legal notices,” Zeeshan Chaudary, the general manager of EMI Pakistan, told The Express Tribune.
As per the details shared by the record label, the “original” qawwali was written by Purnam Allahbadi, composed by Maqbool Sabri and performed by Sabri Brothers for the purpose of recording a soundtrack in 1975.
“We have the rights to the complete recording of the original qawwali and its derivatives and neither Adnan Sami Khan nor the producer of the music or anyone else has acquired rights from us,” he said.
If both EMI’s and Amjad Sabri’s claims of possible copyright infringement are to be believed, it would benefit both parties to sort out the actual ownership of the qawwali before spiraling into a blame game.
“Amjad Sabri cannot claim the ownership of the Qawwali and we have the legal documents to prove that,” said Chaudary.
“He can only do that either by showing us the last will of his father, which ensures the inheritance of Ghulam Fareed Sabri’s intellectual property to his son or he will have to get a succession certificate as per the laws of the country. If he is able to do that, then he will also receive the royalties, as per the agreement with the original artist,” he added.
Chaudhry further elaborated that this applies to all cases wherein the children of any artists wish to claim rights to the artist’s intellectual property.
As for now Bajrangi Bhaijan is all set to release along with Bin Roye in Pakistan on Eid.