‘Kantara’ makers face allegations of plagiarism, Kerala band Thaikkudam Bridge to sue for copyright infringement

The Kerala-based band has alleged similarities between Kantara’s ‘Varaha Roopam’ and its 2017 song ‘Navarasam’

The Kerala-based band has alleged similarities between Kantara’s ‘Varaha Roopam’ and its 2017 song ‘Navarasam’

Ever since its release on September 30, 2022, Rishab Shetty’s blockbuster Kannada film, Kantara, has been the talk of the town for its rooted storytelling, stunning visuals and music that brings alive the traditions and rituals of coastal Karnataka. However, amid all the high praise from critics and audience alike, the film is now embroiled in a controversy after Kerala-based music band Thaikkudam Bridge accused the makers of plagiarism and copyright infringement on October 25, 2022.

The band took to social media to put out a statement regarding this. Hinting at similarities between the now popular song from Kantara, ‘Varaha Roopam’ and their 2017 track ‘Navarasam’, Thaikkudam Bridge have alleged “infringement of copyright law” and have expressed their intention to initiate legal action against the team of Kantara and its producers, Hombale Films.

Making the distinction between “inspired” and “plagiarised”, the band said that Varaha Roopam, composed by music director Ajaneesh Lokanath, had been claimed as an original work despite its striking and “unavoidable similarities” to Navarasam, their intellectual property (IP).

The band also sought public support and urged people to raise their voice against copyright violations. “We request the support of our listeners and encourage you to spread the word about the same. Also request our fellow artistes to share and raise your views protecting music copy right. (sic)“ they said.

Actor addresses claims of appropriation

The allegations have come in the wake of days of social media buzz over Kantara’s appropriation of the bhootakola tradition of coastal Karnataka region and attempt at subsuming it under the Vedic, Brahminical Hinduism.

On October 24, 2022, Kannada actor Kishore, who plays the role of a Forest Officer in Kantara, put up an Instagram post titled ‘Kantara and Dharma’, urging people to not let ‘Dharma’ colour the folk deities and traditions of Dakshina Kannada.

Taking exception to those using the film to “incite superstition” and “divide people”, the actor pleaded with his audience to think before “falling prey to the brokers of hatred, who have already hijacked the national anthem, flag, logo and poets.”

Addressing the scourge of untouchability embedded within the practice of Bhootakola, which the movie highlights, Kishore asked, “Why do we fail to see the color of Adharma in the practice of untouchability, which does not allow the person who wears the vesha of the same daiva into the house belonging to the upper caste feudals, and the cleansing with holy water when he enters their house? (sic)”

Calling Kantara a film that is “uniting the people of the country surpassing the borders of caste, religion and language,” he warned people against becoming “pawns of bigoted politics”.

FIR against Chethan Ahimsa

A day before, on October 23, the Seshadripuram Police registered an FIR against another Kannada actor Chethan Ahimsa, for insulting and allegedly hurting the sentiments of a community through his comments against Kantara.

In a tweet, Chethan had said, “Glad our Kannada film ‘Kantara’ is making waves on a national level. Director Rishabh Shetty claims Bhoota Kola is ‘Hindu culture’. False. Our Pambada/Nalike/Parawa’s Bahujan traditions predate Vedic-Brahminical Hinduism. We ask that Moolnivasi cultures be shown w/truth on & off screen.”

Based on the complaint by one Shivakumar, from Shankarapuram, the police booked Chetan under Section 505 (2) of IPC. Shivakumar, in his complaint, alleged that Chetan’s statement would offend and hurt religious sentiments and provoke communal tension. This is the second time Chetan is facing criminal charges this year.

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