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Who Will Face the Music? Ilaiyaraaja’s Legal Notice to ‘Manjummel Boys’ Producers

Indian Music composer contends that he is the original composer of the song 'Kanmani Anbodu'

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on May 24, 2024, 12:52:14

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manjummel boys, malayalam movie, illayaraja, kanmani anbodu, guna movie, kamal hassan

Veteran Indian music composer Ilaiyarajaa has issued a legal notice to the creators of the Malayalam blockbuster film 'Manjummel Boys' for using the song ‘Kanmani Anbodu’ from the 1991 Tamil movie ‘Gunaa’ without his consent.

Chidambaram, the director of the film, posted a segment of the news on Instagram alongside another Tamil song, "Malarnthum Malaratha," composed by TM Soundararajan for the Tamil film ‘Pasamalar’.

Ilaiyarajaa contends that he is the original composer of the song 'Kanmani Anbodu' and asserts that mere acknowledgment in the title cards does not suffice as permission or licensing for its usage. He accuses the producers of exploiting his work commercially and attracting viewership and publicity through unauthorised means.

Furthermore, Ilaiyarajaa emphasises his absolute rights, including moral rights, over all his original musical compositions. His legal representative demands that the film producers either obtain the composer’s permission, remove the song from the movie, or provide compensation within 15 days, threatening legal action against Soubin Shahir, Babu Shahir, and Shawn Antony if they fail to comply with these options.

In a legal battle dating back to 2015, the Madras High Court had restrained four music labels from monetiSing Ilaiyarajaa’s musical works. In 2019, the court recognized the composer’s special moral rights over 4,500 songs composed for over 1,000 movies between the 1970s and 1990s.

However, in a recent hearing in 2024, a bench of Justices R. Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq asserted that Ilaiyarajaa cannot be considered above the law, despite his stature.

Moreover, in 2020, the Indian Record Manufacturing Company Ltd (INRECO) claimed complete copyright ownership of Ilaiyarajaa’s musical works and sound recordings in approximately 30 films, citing written agreements with the respective film producers.

However, Ilaiyarajaa argued that digital rights emerged after 1996, and the music company should not have authority over his work, contending that the film’s owner cannot supersede his copyright.

Regarding 'Manjummel Boys,' which achieved significant success at the Kerala and Tamil Nadu box offices, becoming the first Malayalam film to gross over Rs200 crore within 26 days of its release, the movie centres around the camaraderie among a group of young men from a lower-middle-class background embarking on a trip to Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu.

Notably, Kamal Haasan, who starred in Gunaa, congratulated the entire cast and crew of 'Manjummel Boys' post-release, underscoring its success.

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