“Genda Phool becomes the 3rd fastest Indian music video to cross 100 million views,” singer-composer Badshah wrote in his latest Instagram post. But this journey of his latest single, featuring Jacqueline Fernandez hasn’t been a smooth one. The song has been embroiled in controversy for not crediting the alleged original composer, Ratan Kahar.
Ever since Badshah released “Genda Phool” on March 26, a section of the listeners have been accusing him of plagiarism. Netizens claimed the rapper borrowed lyrics from an old Bengali song, “Boroloker biti lo”, written by veteran artiste Ratan Kahar in the 1970s and didn’t even credit him for it. The music video credits original lyrics to ‘Bengali Folk’.
“This is RATAN KAHAR, a folk artist from Bengal. GENDA PHOOL is RATAN KAHAR’s song from the 70s & is extremely popular amongst Bengalis. Sadly he doesn’t have the money to sue Badshah who claims that the lyrics/music is by him. But you have the power to spread the truth. Use it,” wrote a Twitter user as he posted a photo of Kahar.
Another user also shared a video of Kahar singing the original composition. There have been many others who have asked Badshah to give the due credit to Kahar.
After this furore on the internet, Badshah released a statement on Instagram and spoke on Instagram live where said, “We learnt through social media two days after the song was released that the two folk lines, which we believed were Bengali folk lines, are written by a Bengali artiste Ratan Kahar ji. I checked on Youtube for more videos where the song has been recreated before. There have been many recreations of this song. But Ratan Kahar ji’s name is nowhere mentioned in the credit for the lyrics.”
He added, “Then I checked the artiste’ societies, the performing art societies, where credits of all the artistes are stored. We didn’t find his name in the records. We were just trying to validate whether he has written the song or not.”
Further, the rapper said he believes Kahar is a great artiste and he is willing to provide financial help to the veteran artiste. He also appealed to his colleagues to support folk musicians. “I am right here and I would love to help him in whatever form I can, on humanitarian, artistic grounds. But as of now, as per records, it’s a Bengali folk song. It’s not in the records that it’s written by Ratan Kahar ji. I am an artiste. I know how it feels but whatever I can I would love to help him. I have no qualms in helping him. If there was no lockdown, I would have come and meet him,” Badshah said.
In a documentary, available on YouTube, Ratan Kahar said that he was not credited for the song even when it was recreated for the first time in 1976 by Bengali singer Swapna Chakraborty. Kahar who lives in Birbhum district of West Bengal told the reporters he never got any recognition for his song. PTI quoted him saying, “The lyrics of this song were written by me and music composition was also mine. But I never got any recognition for the song and it pains me a lot. I am Ratan Kahar, who never got recognised for the song. You judge what kind of justice is that.”
He added, “There are so many writers and good people around us but nobody protested. Those singing the song don’t understand its spirit and ruin its earthiness.”
But after knowing about Badshah’s statement where the rapper says he is willing to help him financially, Kahar told IANS, “It feels great that such a renowned artist has used my song and has expressed his desire to help me. I hope Badshah will help me. I expect a little monetary help from him. I live in a poverty-stricken condition and will be glad to receive his help.”