Javed Akhtar reacts to landmark royalties verdict

Javed Akhtar, Chairman of IPRC (The Indian Performing Right Society Limited) talks to The Free Press Journal exclusively on the landmark decision of the Bombay High Court that music directors and lyricists are entitled to royalty from FM radio channels.

When asked how he felt about the verdict, Akhtar shares, “I am delighted that the honourable Bombay High Court has seen fit to uphold and protect the rights of authors and composers whose creations have enthralled and inspired Indians and the world for decades. This is long due especially since Indian music has reverberated across the world including Naatu Naatu composed by MM Keeravaani and penned by Kanukuntla Subhash Chandrabose.”

He adds, “All the authors and composer members of IPRS thank the honourable Bombay High Court for this landmark judgement and its well-reasoned analysis recognising the change in the law since 2012. This forward-looking and exemplary judgement places the creator back at the heart of copyright creation, which will serve as a great incentive for artistes, the music industry and for the creation of copyright in India.”

Elaborating further, Akhtar states, “We are getting royalty from many places. And there are many places which accept the rights of the law of the land given to us. One more door has opened but there are still some doors where we are knocking and trying to solve the problem amicably otherwise by law or by the court.”

When asked why the intellectual property was not given the long due, especially when it came to FM radio stations, he explains, “It’s a good question but you should ask those who are not willing to pay. I have always respected the law of the land so they should have paid. If they were not doing so, an order has been passed by the court of law. It is for them to explain why they were committing this mistake of not paying us the royalty.”

Javed Akhtar reacts to The Kerala Story controversy

When asked his take on the fringe societal elements that create controversy while the films are releasing and if The Kerala Story their target now, Javed explains, “Arrey bhai there are 140 crore people so with different opinions these controversies will erupt from time to time to create some controversy. You cannot accept total consensus amongst the 140 crore people. This is all part of life. Filmmaking will also continue. Some people create and continue controversy and life will go on.”

He then talks about how films release regardless of the controversies surrounding them. “Ultimately, it is in the hands of the people of India when they approve something it survives and continues. When they disapprove of something it fails. You can fight with anything but you cannot fight with the people of the country. If they don’t like something you can’t manipulate them. That’s just not possible. Ultimately, only those films and songs will survive that have larger approval of the audiences of the country. They are the final decision makers,” he avers.

Akhtar doesn’t believe that any publicity is good publicity. “If there is a general belief that this is not appreciable, not fair, not right, not attractive then how can it be good publicity? Any publicity is not stronger than the people,” he says.

Javed Akhtar talks about why women deserve better roles

We then quizzed him about the kind of changes he feels are still required to portray women characters in Indian films. “We are still in a line of twilight zones. Strong women characters are not coming out. Though there are some efforts here and there but by and large there is a kind of a confusion. Why this confusion? Simply because the liberal is not ready to define the contemporary woman out of fear that somebody will out liberal him. The conservative doesn’t want to define the contemporary woman because they feel men will lose a lot of territory. There is some kind of confusion and in this confusion there are some outrageous attempts, some timid and feeble attempts and some good. Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit are exceptionally talented girls but if you look at their career, did they get great characters like Nargis, Meena Kumari or Nutan? In spite of their exceptional talent they did not get what they deserved. Society is not clear who the right woman is,” he concludes.

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