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EXCLUSIVE! Is Naatu Naatu an original composition? Composer Shivram Parmar shares an interesting story – Beyond Bollywood

The unheralded music composer reveals that in 2015, he had developed an unpublished track titled Nacho Nacho, which is similar to the M.M. Keeravani, S.S. Rajamouli’s Oscar winning original song.

By Mayur Lookhar

Early this year, India created history at the 95th Academy Awards when veteran composer M.M. Keeravani aka M.M. Kreem and director S.S. Rajamouli bagged an Oscar for the Best Original song for Naatu Naatu – the very popular track from their Telugu film RRR [2022]. It’s a maiden such honour for an Indian production.

Over six months later, though not mired in any plagiarism row per se, one unheralded composer has claimed that he had scored a similar unpublished composition in 2015. Shivram Parmar, who recently launched his single Neem Neem, revealed the same in an exclusive interview to Beyond Bollywood Plus.

“In 2015, I had created Nacho Nacho, a similar concept to that of Naatu Naatu. Like the Telugu song, my track, too, had Nacho Nacho playing in the beginning. You’d find similarity in the beats, tempo too. The sound design is similar, but the South Indian music has its own rhythm, pattern. Our track was designed more on international beats,” said Parmar.

The humble composer claimed that he never published this song, but he had created a scratch and kept it as part of his song bank. Parmar revealed that when Naatu Naatu became a huge hit, he got calls from people reminding him how he too had scored a similar composition. Parmar clarified that he NEVER pitched his Nacho Nacho track to S.S. Rajamouli or M.M. Kreem. 

Is the similarity then merely coincidental?

“It could be. There are seven surs [notes]. So, there is a possibility of similar concepts,” replied Parmar.

Shivram Parmar

The Hindi music composer felt proud that his creative thinking is on par with the greats from the Telugu film industry.  If he had backing like the Telugu song, composers like him do have potential to create Oscar worthy songs.

Whilst Parmar has categorically ruled out any plagiarism here, there have been instances in the past where a particular copyrighted material was pitched from A to B, and years later, it found its way in a D publication, with A never having any communication with D.  One such example is Akshay Kumar’s film Pad-Man [2018]. Back then, one writer Ripu Daman Jaiswal had claimed that he sent a draft of a similar story, based on the life of social activist, entrepreneur Arunachalam Muruganantham, to one Ryan Stephen, the then creative head at Dharma Productions. He received no further communication from the creative, and once he learned of Twinkle Khanna obtaining rights to Muruganamtham’s biopic, he had dropped his story. The writer, though, was shocked after finding that some 11-12 scenes from his draft, that was sent to Dharma Productions, had made its way into a film that was directed, co-produced by R. Balki. Jaiswal had never approached Balki.

Did something similar happen between Nacho Nacho and Naatu Naatu?

“No, I don’t think so. I had pitched my track/concept to many people, but no one reverted to me evincing an interest to publish this song,” quipped Parmar. The composer added that he could make few changes and release Nacho Nacho with MFA records, who earlier published the Neem Neem track.

Though Parmar has ruled out any plagiarism, is there fear that Rajamouli or M.M. Kreem could sue him if he released his Nacho Nacho?

A grinning Parmar says, “No, they can’t claim any copyright. Naatu Naatu is created in a South Indian style. If you recall, in the 90s, we had two similar tracks – Jumma Chumma Dede and Tamma Tamma Loge. The former was based on an Indian rhythm. The latter was based on Western flavour. So, we can make a Nacho Nacho in a westernized flavour.”

Those were different days when Bollywood proudly took ‘inspiration’ from the West and other cinemas. For the record, both Jumma Chumma De De from Hum [1991] and Tamma Tamma Loge from Thanedaar [1990] derived inspiration from Guinean vocalist, composer Mory Kante’s 1988 Tama track.  Laxmikant Pyarelal had scored the playback music for Hum, while Bappi Lahiri, notorious for taking inspiration, had scored the music for Thanedaar.

Watch Parmar talk about Nacho Nacho below.

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