Follow Us:
Saturday, May 21, 2022

Whose Line is it,anyway?

A documentary traces the origins of Munni badnaam hui,and negotiates the tricky terrain of copyright and creativity.

Written by Suanshu Khurana |
June 7, 2011 2:47:46 am

A documentary traces the origins of Munni badnaam hui,and negotiates the tricky terrain of copyright and creativity

No party is complete without Munni badnaam hui — Dabangg’s blockbuster item number — played at a high volume,and young girls attempting Malaika Arora’s sensual gyrations. Mamta Sharma’s throaty vocals,and the coarsely paced beats and instrumentation by Sajid-Wajid have redefined new-age Bollywood music,prompting music critics to hail the new folk flavour and sound in item numbers. Dabangg director Abhinav Kashyap,who is also the lyricist of the song,and Sajid-Wajid walked away not only with bags full of money but also a slew of awards.

Some time back,Mumbai-based filmmaker Paromita Vohra found out about little-known details about the song. Munni badnaam hui,apparently inspired from folk music,has actually been copied from a 1970s song that Razia Begum,a folk singer from Madhya Pradesh,used to perform. Her song was called Launda badnaam hua,naseeban tere liye. “Not only this. There are varied Bhojpuri,Pakistani and even a Bappi Lahiri version of this song. There is also a vulgarised version of it by nautanki performers Rampat Haraami and Rani Bala,” says Vohra,who has used this song to comment on copyright and creativity issues in her documentary,Partners in Crime.

Vohra is well known for her films on politics and feminism and the screenplay for the critically acclaimed Khamosh Paani. Partners in Crime comes at an interesting time,as the Copyright Amendment Bill is set to be introduced in the Parliament. The film was commissioned by Delhi-based Magic Lantern Foundation and is available at

Best of Express Premium

What makes KuCoin P2P Trading Platform a Good Choice To Buy Crypto?Premium
Airtel Demonstrates Immersive Video Entertainment On 5G; Recreates Kapi...Premium
Is It A Good Idea To Keep One Account For All Your Financial Transactions?Premium
Touching The Sky : SIMS, Pune Alumni On A Path To Make A DifferencePremium

The film not only talks about the history of Munni…hui but also the history of capitalism,deciphering the ways of the market and addressing issues like piracy,illegal downloading of music and the relationship of music artists with the listeners. “Who owns a particular song becomes a question here,” says Vohra,who explores the grey areas in the issue of copyright. The film showcases metalheads,who are marketing their music on the internet on their own,as well as people who are translating books into Braille for the blind. There are shots of a Mumbai-based musician,who has an archive of rare recordings but cannot publish them because of copyright issue.

“Is this cultural freedom or is it illegal? Our market system has failed and that is precisely why a film on this grey area was needed. The solutions seem difficult,but for now,let’s not lock up the artist,” says Vohra,who adds that she has “narrated this documentary like a love story”.

Latest Comment
View All Comments
Post Comment
Read Comments

Start your day the best way
with the Express Morning Briefing

For all the latest Pune News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard

Featured Stories

When Reema Lagoo kept crying after Renuka Shahane's death scene in Hum Aa...
Pooja Hegde on big back-to-back flops Radhe Shyam, Beast, Acharya: 'I kno...
Anees Bazmee on Akshay Kumar not starring in Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2: 'He is to...
Forensic teaser: Vikrant Massey, Radhika Apte try to solve mystery around...
Chessable Masters: R Praggnanandhaa stuns Magnus Carlsen again