Oriya Print Media Condemns Rangabati Remix

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Rangabati remix, which has committed offence against Orissa’s State Anthem too, has been condemned by every Oriya who honors the distinction of Orissa in maintaining archaically significant specimens of her artistic and literary excellence.

There was a time, when culture vultures in neighboring states were claiming superiority over Oriya language. The issue was settled in Linguistic Survey of India where it was declared that the “Oriya language can boast of a rich vocabulary in respect of which neither Bengali nor Hindi nor Telugu can vie with it”. Years after, Bengal’s famous linguist Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee compared Oriya language with the languages of her neighborhood and declared, “Of these three speeches – Oriya, Bengali and Assamees – Oriya has preserved a great many archaic features in both grammar and pronunciation; and it may be said without travesty of linguistic truth that Oriya is the eldest of the three sisters, when we consider the archaic character of the language (I.H.Q. Vol. XXIII, 1947, p. 337).

So, the strength of Oriya lies in preservation of its unique works of literature, the speaking part of which is Orissa’s folk songs like Rangabati. Its uniqueness has been tampered with under filthy design of the avaricious rich under the banner of M.Tv.

This is blatant assault on the very libretto of the immensely popular song of Orissa by a gang in song business. This is song industry’s offensive onslaught on archaically important Rangabati song as well as on the State Anthem Vande Utkala Janani. YouTube is a platform where videos on incest sex spreads in unfathomable speed. No wonder the Rangabati remix is getting massive hits in YouTube. As incest sex is not the proof of legality because of hits the videos thereof gain in the internet platform, so also Ragabati remix, despite the heavy hits in YouTube, is not legal.

Every Oriya, conscious and proud of his/her belonging to Orissa, the unique land of preservation of her literary and musical distinction as mentioned supra, should wake up against this nefarious mischief of the new gang of tin pan alleys that has made and spread the Rangabati remix.

Eminent Editor Rabi Kanungo Condemns the Mischief

There is a brilliant editorial on the mischief in 9th July edition of Orissa’s major daily Suryaprava, authored by its editor Rabi Kanungo. He has held the supporters of the remix as similar to a son who presents to his mother a different person as his father after implanting his head on the neck of that man. As people of Orissa are keeping their eyes on the mischief, I am putting here the copy of the said editorial.

Rangabati remix_Rabi Kanungo

Rangabati in Remix: Nasty Tricks of Avarice Kills the Song, Affects Creative Property Right, Attracts Legal Action

Kedar Mishra

“It was a “crazy” day in court on Thursday. The Roshans — Rakesh and brother Rajesh — were censured for dishonesty but they ensured the Friday release of their latest film Krazzy4” – the Times of India reported on 11 th April 2008. The report was based on a judgment delivered by Justice D.G. Karnik of Mumbai High court in favor of a young musician called Ram Sampath and clearly told in the verdict that “Music composer Ram Sampath has proved that he is the owner of copyright and that the four tracks in Krazzy4 are a copy of The Thump (the music he created for a television commercial for Sony Ericsson)… None of the Roshan’s defense arguments has any merit.” Taking note of the young music composer Ram Sampath’s argument, the court had ordered Roshans to pay Rs 1,77,34,600 (the amount after tax deductions) on the very day of the verdict. It was a big moral victory for a young music composer against a big banner like Roshans and that had brought Ram Sampath and his singer wife Sona Mohapatra into limelight.

Later celebrating their victory over Roshans, Ram and Sona in a talk show with veteran film commentator Komal Nahta articulated their idea on intellectual property and creativity and there, Sona said, “ intellectual property and creativity something you should value and the source of creativity needs to be respected and any civilized society needs to start with that”.

One must appreciate their courage and conviction to protect the intellectual property rights and creative dignity.

But it was story of 2008.

In 2015, the story has drastically changed.

The couple who fought for intellectual property right and got a huge amount as compensation are now violating others’ intellectual property rights and humiliatingly distorting a folk artiste’s creative property.

Blatantly violating the intellectual copy rights act 1957 they have hijacked the lyrics, tune and flavor of a song which was created and composed by a group of folk musicians from Orissa whose Rangabati has remained synonymous with ecstasy of exquisite folk music, making Orissa a referral point beyond her geographic limits.

A short History

“Rangabati rangabati Kanakalata
Hasi pade kahana katha”

[O colourful lady! O Rangabati!
You are like a golden creeper.
Talk to me with your smile.

Thus enters Rangabati to reign over a living empire of music.

A hit song of 1970s, Rangabati spread like wild fire throughout the state of Orissa and transgressed geographical boundaries and become hugely popular allover India. As P.Sainath, veteran journalist wrote, “Rangabati captured huge areas beyond that State. The Golden Creeper spread through Chattisgarh, then entwined much of the Hindi belt. There was a time in the 1980s when no self-respecting truck driver hit the road without the cassette. Tea shops reminded clients of their existence with the song blaring. No one knows how many vinyl records were sold, but it made gold disc status within its first three or four years of play. As for the cassette version, its sales were in countless lakhs. It generated a fortune in revenues for both music companies and pirates.”

Rangabati was a song first recorded in All India Radio, Sambalpur station in 1975-76 as a Sambalpuri song sung by young singer duo Jitendria Haripal and Krishna Patel. It was a duet song specially penned by Mitravanu Gauntia, a much respected lyricist from All India Radio.

Soon a music company – INDRECO recorded and released the musical disc of Rangabati from Kolkota and the song becomes a household chant in the eastern part of India.

Though it was a song based on folk tune and beats, it was not from a pure folk genre. It is an original creative work by Pravudutta Pradhan, a brilliant drummer and musician from Sambalpur
Here it would be apt to say that there is a little controversy over its composition. At least there are three claimants to take credit as composer of this highly popular track. Somehow, the copy right as composer of this song is now in the hand of Sri Pradhan.

Other claimants Pradip Patra and Ramesh Mahanand were surely a part of this classic composition.

From the day of its release Rangabati becomes an instant hit and surpassed time as a classic track of timelessness.
Rangabati is a song very close to heart and soul of the Oriya population and we grew up with its dreamy words and pensive melody. With this song one can also see a long standing struggle of its singer Jitendria Haripal.

Plotting a Musical Murder

In a dramatic twist Sona Mohapatra and Ruturaj Mohanty, originally residents from Orissa, established as singers in Bollywood, pickedup Rangabati to present in Coke studio arguably to take the legendary song to a larger audience. In their presentation they described the song “Rangabati is Orissa’s most popular folk song from the Sambalpur region and the composition has been known to the locals since time immemorial. The song reached a larger public and became a popular household song after it was recorded for the first time in the mid 70’s in the voices of Jitendra Haripal & Krishna Patel with additional lyrics by Mitrabhanu Guintia & re-arranged by Prabhudatta Pradhan”.
It was categorically informed to the audience that it was a folk song which was rearranged and rewritten by Rangabati team which was factually incorrect.

Rangabati is a song originally written and composed by the team injecting folk tunes and rhythms into the song and it is very much a creative and intellectual property of its lyricist Mr.Mitravanu Gauntia and music director Mr.Pradhan.

It is unfortunate to see that Ram Sampath who was fighting to regain his intellectual and creative property rights with Rakesh Roshan & Co is now depriving team Rangabati from their creative ownership.

Ram Sampath used original music track and lyric of Rangabati for Coke Studio without taking prior permission from the lyricist and the composer.

Gross Violation of Laws

In the name of remix and rap, Ram Sampath, Sona Mohaptra and Ruturaj Mohanty have grossly violated the Copyrights Act and also defaced the musical track and distorted the lyric.

Sona has take just 30% of the song where there are a dozen of pronunciation mistakes and by using nonsense words she makes the song a mockery.

The words and feel in the song are totally out of place.

Though an Oriya girl, Sona Mohapatra makes one wonder if she understands her own language and the melody of her own roots.

The argument that they have taken the song to a larger audience makes hardly any sense.

Original Rangabti track is hugely popular even today and it needs no irresponsible and unethical promoters from Bollywood.

Ram Sampath’s act termed illegal has been challenged in the court of law and hopefully law will take its own course.
Strong protests and angry voices against the mischief indicate to what extent the avaricious misconduct of Sampath and his collaborators has hurt the non-sophomoric Oriya population.

“Really Disappointing”

Talking on the distortion and humiliating presentation of Rangabati, Ramesh Mahanand, a veteran Sambalpuri music composer and one of the members of the core Rangabati team said, “It’s really disappointing that Rangabati song was performed so ridiculously. Where were the M.tv musicians? Music arrangement is so substandard let alone singing.

In the past, I have watched several excellent Music programs of M.tv. It seems, Rangabati song is willfully humiliated by the M.tv and team.”

A crusader has finally set his new venture to crucify the poor and deprived class of musicians from their intellectual and creative property rights.

Ram Sampath, who was a fighter himself, is now indulging in a devilish effort to deprive team Rangabati from its legal and ethical rights. Sona Mohapatra and Ruturaj Mohanty are arguing in their defense like school children and offering a hugely popular song a “Remix status” which has no takers.

(Kedar Mishra is a freelance journalist, art critic, poet and scholar)

Also read:

Coke Studio’s “Rangabati” is an insult and assault on folk music and linguistic sanctity

Coke Studio’s “Rangabati” is an insult and assault on folk music and linguistic sanctity

By Saswat Pattanayak

The “Rangabati” version that is being touted as putting Odisha on the world map is instead designed to take Orissa off the map.

Credited to Ram Sampath, Sona Mohapatra and Rituraj Mohanty, this modern incarnation of Rangabati is problematic in more ways than just one. In the guise of promoting Oriya culture, what this rendition does is undermine the history of struggles behind linguistic uniqueness of Oriya itself and promotes a bunch of profiteering corporate pawns in their self-aggrandizement.

Firstly, by titling it as “Rangabati” while remixing it with “Vande Utkala Janani”, it vulgarizes the very national anthem of the Oriyas. The team behind MTV Coke has quite possibly forgotten the relevance and sanctities attached to the state anthem that played pivotal part in freedom struggles of the Oriyas. Behind the creation of Orissa as the first linguistically formed state in India, lies the power of “Vande Utkala Janani”. What is evident in the Coke Studio version is sheer deplorable trivialization of the classicism associated with the song that eventually led to preservation of Oriya language and its distinct attainment of classical status.

When Bengal and Bihar had colonized Orissa, it was not just a geographic mass that was exploited – it was a language that was denied to the people of Orissa back then. Thanks to the Utkal Sammilani and the freedom fighters associated with it, Orissa had been able to reclaim its unique glory. When Oriya was not considered as a separate language, these stalwarts had ensured that the new province would be formed precisely based on the language that was more unique and far richer than the ones that had dominated over it employing British mischiefs.

It was in 1882, long before the first Utkal Union Conference (Utkal Sammilani) was formed that Madhusudan Das (along with Gaurishankar Ray) championed the cause of Oriya people through Utkal Sabha (the Orissa Association). As its president, Madhusudan Das fought against imposition of Hindi in the place of Oriya in the official works at Sambalpur. How ironic, that today, under the garb of promoting a Sambalpuri folk song, the struggle behind linguistic identity would be so opportunistically forgotten!

In 1903, when the first Utkal Sammilani was held in Kanika, it had representation from all over Orissa – Kanika, Keonjhar, Cuttack and Sambalpur. It was proudly declared as “the Parliament of people inhabiting Oriya speaking areas, not withstanding caste, creed, language and administrative divisions.” When Bengal Government restricted Oriya officers from attending the Conference, Madhu Babu demanded that they be allowed.

When Orissa was not a political entity and Oriya was not officially a language, it was Madhusudan Das who thundered: “According to history, people from different places came to England and settled there. This union helped in the making of the English race. The English people had great contribution to the progress in Europe. We must consider this in the context of our motherland. Now looking at the suffering of mother Utkal who amongst us would be thoughtless? Hence we all being united would share her suffering and serve her. While in this deep service we must remember a statement of the Prophet Muhammad – for the spread of love one should give up impure element from the heart and allow pious blood into it. My dear brothers and sisters who want to dedicate their lives for the service of the mother Utkal must at first give up – conceit and selfishness. The race or nation is eternal, you and myself have temporary existence. The only way to progress is to give up selfishness. It will be admitted by all that the water of the river and lake coming from different direction would enter into the ocean where it would take one shape and one colour. It would be called the water of the ocean and would take the name of the great ocean.”

In such a backdrop of relentless struggle to claim Oriyas as a distinct “race”, the classicism of Oriya language inherently remained. It is in such a context that the unique diversity of Orissa remained preserved while the language is fiercely protected. And it is in this context that Kantakabi Laxmikanta Mohapatra’s “Vande Utkala Janani” is treated inviolable – as the national anthem of a race of people who battled political, economic and cultural subjugations to retain their uniqueness.

And it is in this context that it was declared on December 19, 2002 by the Speaker of Orissa Legislative Assembly, Mr. Sarat Kumar Kar that whosoever shows any disrespect to “Vande Utkala Janani” shall face penal action.

In the name of artistic freedom, experimentations and fusions, “Vande Utkala Janani” rendition has been improper at the technical level in the latest YouTube sensation, while commercially exploited to suit a corporate agenda at the level of intent.

Rangabati singers

(L-R) Singers Jitendra Haripal, Krishna Patel, lyricist Mitrabhanu Gountia and music director Prabhudatt Pradhan.

Equally deplorable is the cultural misappropriation of Jitendra Haripal and Krishna Patel’s brilliant composition “Rangabati”. Haripal is a Dalit artist duly recognized by the state for his immense contribution to folk and patriotic music. A purist practitioner of folk music, Haripal once said, “The new Sambalpuri songs use crude and indecent expressions and the pure folk we used to create have taken a backseat. I want to keep folk music safe and promote it.”

Rangabati rendition by Sona Mohapatra is neither pure nor is it keeping folk music safe. It is only using Rangabati for the purpose of self-promotion. Bereft of all patriotic feel and folk quality, the electronic appropriation by privileged caste commercial artists, of a Dalit folk singer’s most monumental contribution is at once sad and derogatory. To make matters worse, the fusion of “Rangabati-Vande Utkala Janani” not only abandons folk traditions, and replaces what Haripal once told P. Sainath in The Hindu, “simple love song in pure Sambalpuri style” for a needless mash-up with “Vande Utkala Janani”, it also infuses the non-Oriya rap between the lyrics.

Finally, there is clear case of copyright violation by the MTV’s Coke Studio which has not taken any permission from original lyricist Mitrabhanu Guintia and music director Prabhudatta Pradhan. Not only has the national anthem of Orissa been taken for granted by corporate houses, but even the folk artists and song writers are not compensated before their music are widely abused.

As Oriyas, unable to combat the assaults, atrophy and neglect of our language, many things are no longer surprising to us. But the callous indifference towards commercial appropriation of “Rangabati” as well as trivialization of “Vande Utkala Janani” perhaps indicate that we may be destined to lose both our folk heritage and linguistic historical identity, much sooner than later, if this manipulative Coke Studio production is what we falsely perceive as taking Odia to the world map.


This posting including the caption originating from BISWAJEET PADHI is borrowed from a group mail addressed to CanOSAnet, which was to our hand from Prof. Gopal Mohanty, Professor Emeritus, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, by way of redirection. Prof. Mohanty deserves all thanks for having circulated it in the yahoogroup.

We agree with every word used in this article. The government has failed to ensure that exploitation of artists by business community stops and a genius like Jitendra Harpal is given his appropriate royalty.

We are publishing this excellent write up for perusal of our esteemed visitors with an appeal that each one of them, in their respective sphere should pay attention to the issues so ably highlighted in it and to please do their best to make at least the Government of Orissa understand how to fix up priority in extending support to culture of the State.

It is a shame that when creative geniuses like Harpal are abandoned by the State, several lakhs of rupees are being squandered away year after year in celebrating Jaya Dev’s birthday in a communal fashion, simply because a senior IAS officer wants it.

All thinking minds, who love Orissa, must rise up and ask the State government to divert the money they are spending in communalizing Sri Jaya Dev to welfare of creative geniuses like Harpal.
-Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Rangabati O Rangabati , kanaka lata , hasi pade kahana kath – , Hai go laze laze o laze, laze, laze laze nai zauche matha go, nai kara nai kara aatha( O my beloved Rangabati, speak to me with a smile; I am not able to raise my face with shame – don’t trouble me much) has set the hearts bubbling of millions all over the world. It has been lapped up by listeners from Los Angeles to London when broadcasted through Radio. Though a sambalpuri folk song, it is as popular in Ranchi as in Delhi . It is still a national anthem for every band party ushering the bridegroom to the house of the bride. This sambalpuri folk song has been the ‘Sholay’ of folk music and has reigned the hearts of young and old alike since it was composed in 1972. But its lead singer , 61 year Jitendra Harpal still lives in obscurity in his house in Sambalpur in western Orissa. The Company that recorded and sold millions of copies of the record way back in 1979, INERCO ( Indian Record manufacturing Company) has allegedly not paid a single rupee as royalty to the singer. Poverty and lack of support are the reasons why he has not been able to wage a legal battle to get his dues. Yet he is determined to work for preserving the folk media of the region.

He supports a large family of 3 sons, 3 daughters, widow sister, her daughter, father in law, 2 grand daughter aptly named Payal and Ghungroo and a grandson named Preet. Harpal has been ailing for quite some years. Yet help has not come from the desired quarters. An all time great of folk music, who still refuses to compromise on his ethics languishes in utter poverty. Following a 27 minute discussion with the Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during his sambalpur visit in May 2005, Harpal was hopeful and has not lost hope till today. The Chief Minister has assured me help for my medical treatment and also financial support of Rs. 2 lakhs for a patriotic album. Western Orissa has a rich treasure of folk dance forms, songs, festivals which over the years may get extinct and needs preservation, lamented Harpal. They need to be preserved, yet finance is a big problem to take up such a gigantic project, he said.

When he came into the scene in 1970s, music was never paying and never ensured a livelihood. It was sheer grit and love for music that he stayed on the scene. With a humble background of even working as a daily labourer, he came into the music scene when he was around 8 / 10 years of age. Such was the love for music, he used to stand outside music schools as he had no money to pay fees. When his mentor Ghulam Abbas started an orchestra named ROCKY in 1965- 66, he got an opportunity to sing. I used to get Rs. 50 per programme in those days and there used to be around 10 programmes per annum, reminiscences Harpal. But the real break came in 1968 -69 when he auditioned for All India Radio, Sambalpur. Though I used to get Rs. 15 per programme, I got recognition after singing in radio confesses Harpal. Infact Rangabti was first aired by AIR in its Surmalia programme in the year 1974.

Now that technology has become affordable, many people are joining the music industry. Mushrooming of recording studios though have been encouraging for the fledging industry, it has it pitfalls too. Earlier music industry was being controlled by big players and many a talent used to go waste. With the advent of Remix and western music, the threat to folk media has multiplied. Double meaning lyrics and some even bordering on obscene are further eroding the track record of the music industry. He is on a mission to preserve sambalpuri folk songs. Lokgeets ( folk songs) are inner voices of People and times and are reflections of the society , asserts Harpal. But with the advent of western culture, we are fast losing it, he lamented.

Arranging finance for cause has been an insurmountable problem. Harpal still refuses to sing cheap and vulgar lyrics where he is offered handsome rewards. There is no short cut to success, he admits and keeps on producing songs which the entire family can listen together. Thankfully his children have also taken to music. His eledest son Prabhat is a rhythm player whereas the eldest of the daughter, Chandrika is a singer. Working against all odds to preserve the culture of the area, has great hopes on the younger generations. Today singing can become a source of livelihood for an upcoming talent, which was not, just a couple of years back. Avoid vulgar lyrics, respect the folk form are the message he wants to give to the younger generations. Meanwhile the dream of preserving the folk media of the region remains a distant dream.