July 19, 2002 
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Will Kavi Pradeep get his due?
Bringing writers' woes to the forefront

Lata Khubchandani

Hit numbers of the film Jai Santoshi Maa [1975], penned by Kavi Pradeep are now being used in Dheeraj Kumar's Creative eye in a television serial.

Jai Santoshi Maa made history when it was released. A small-budget film, its filmmaker could not afford the reigning singers' fees to sing the famous bhajans (religious songs). The relatively less popular Usha Mangeshkar was roped in, instead. It remains Usha Mangeshkar's most popular work.

December 2001 and January 2002 saw songs of Jai Santoshi Maa being used in the promos of the serial. The classic number Jai jai santoshi maata jai jai maa written by Kavi Pradeep for the film was played as the refrain.

Pradeep's daughter, Mitul, was shocked when she heard her fathers songs and consulted a lawyer to acertain if the songs, written for that particular film, could be used for the serial.

She was told they could not be used wihout prior permission of the writer or the legal heir. She then dashed off a letter to Creative Eye urging the producer of the serial should go through the proper channels if he wanted to use the songs. Copies of which were also sent to the Film Writers' Association, Indian Motion Picture Producers' Association (IMMPA), The Indian Performing Right Society (IPRS) and ZEE TV.

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Nobody but the Film Writers' Association (FWA), of which Kavi Pradeep had been a member, responded.

Satram Rohra, producer of the original film Jai Santoshi Maa claimed that he had the rights to sell the songs while the representative of Creative Eye claimed they had bought the songs from the Rohra. Apparently, an indemnity bond had been signed by Satram Rohra stating in case of legal problems, Rohra will be held responsible for payments.

IMPPA took up the issue in March where Dheeraj Kumar claimed he should not be held responsible for anything because he had the bond from Rohra.

At FWA's Dispute Settlement Committee, Dheeraj Kumar (producer/director of the serial) failed to turn up at all three meetings. The stalemate continues as the daughter of Dadasaheb Phalke award winner still fights for justice.

She has met with no support from the IPRS ,a society which supports copyright laws. Though the Writers' Association has upheld that Pradeep had written the songs for the use only in the film.

This issue ought to be viewed as part of a larger cause of the welfare of our country's writers. And a fair outcome to this issue will become a precedent for other problems that film industry writers face.


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