Spicy IP Tidbit: Hollywood strikes back… the wrong way

After hearing of scores of instances of Hollywood movies / soundtracks being copied in Bollywood, here comes a rare instance of a Hollywood movie lifting a part of it’s soundtrack from Bollywood.
A Hollywood Sci-Fi Cloverfield has used Pankhida Oh Pankhida, a Gujarati garba originally penned by Vijaya Herma about 25 years ago, as part of its soundtrack. For the purposes of the film, Lekha Ratnakumar had created his own version of the song and was credited with it in the film. As a result of this, in a press meet Khyati Herma, daughter of Vijaya Herma, and Ranjith Herma, husband of Vijaya Herma threatened to drag Lekha Ratnakumar and the producers of Cloverfield to court for copyright infringement. According to Khyati Herma, the copyright of the song belongs to ‘Studio Siddharth’. The garba was recorded for the first time by Hemant Chauhan and later used in two movies produced by Herma.
Denying any claims of copyright infringement, Ratnakumar went on to tell the TOI : “I have used just ‘Pankhida O pankhida’ while the rest, including the music, is my version.”
Herma and his legal advisor have decided to proceed against the producer of Cloverfield in USA while also filing a case against Lekha Ratankumar in India for pirating the song and selling it to the Hollywood producer.
Without going into the merits of this case specifically, considering the bludgeoning piracy and counterfeiting industry with relation to Bollywood it is indeed nice to know that filmmakers are becoming more aware of their rights. Although this is not the first time that an Indian has sued an American filmmaker (A few years ago Bappi Lahiri successfully sued producers of Truthfully Speaking which contains the Truth Hurts song Addictive because it had Lata Mangeshkar’s song Thoda Resham Lagta Hai in the background), the cases have been few and far between. For that matter, even the much more popular occurrence of copying that goes on within Bollywood goes relatively unchecked either due to ignorance of rights or of fear of upsetting the bigwigs in the industry. (See Kruttika’s post ‘The Music Industry looks to the IP scene for better protection.’ and Yasha’s post on the Krazzy tune)
Getting back to the present case, Spicy IP will keep you updated as and when the case progresses.


  1. Anonymous Coward

    “Bludgeoning piracy and counterfeiting industry”?? Maybe you meant “burgeoning”. This post seems like another instance of lazy reporting. Questions that should have been asked/answered: a) Were only the lyrics copied or even the music? b) What is the law in India regarding cover versions of songs? Does this fall afoul of that? c) “Filing a case. . . for pirating the song”? Pirating ain’t no form of copyright infringement I ever heard of. Please use correct terms when you are reporting about the law. Just as you wouldn’t use “patent” to describe a copyright (even though in popular, non-legal, usage they might be the same), you should avoid talking about “case for pirating”. Firstly, this isn’t a case of music piracy, which is a term used for copying CDs and illegal online distribution. In either case, it is distribution of the original, not a version. Secondly, cases of music piracy are dealt with as “copyright infringement” not as piracy, which is a maritime crime. d) “Lata Mangeshkar’s song Thoda Resham Lagta Hai” when Ms. Mangeshkar has no rights in the song under Indian law. Doesn’t this in itself deserve enquiry?


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