After last week’s update on Tamil composer Deva and the film Mugavari, let us stay on the same composer this week too. And I’ll also stay on one of the original artists mentioned last week (more about that, later in this post). But, let me change the language – Tamil, to Telugu.
Tamil composer Deva has composed in Telugu sporadically. His big success was the 1998 Pawan Kalyan-starrer, Tholi Prema (it was remade in Hindi as Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai). The film was a massive success, paving way for Pawan’s big-ticket innings. On Republic Day 2019, Telugu TV channel Star Maa played Tholi Prema and there was a massive outpouring of nostalgia on social media, given how much the movie has affected Telugu-speaking people.
The soundtrack of the film, with 5 songs, was a huge hit too. Unfortunately, 4 of the 5 songs in the soundtrack were blatantly copied from an assortment of sources, with (obviously) no credit whatsoever to the original artists. My favourite is the soundtrack’s best song… and I’ll reserve that for the end of this post. Let me first deal with the easier lifts.
Song no.1: “Yemaindo Yemo Ee Vela”
This is the most obvious and most recognizable lift from the soundtrack. You listen to it start and you’ll instantly go, ‘What? Seriously?’. Yes. “Yemaindo Yemo Ee Vela” generously helps itself with Ricky Martin’s most famous song, “Maria” (better remembered as “Un, Dos, Tres”!). It was from his third album, A Medio Vivir (1995), and was a massive international hit.
Listen to “Yemaindo Yemo Ee Vela” (1998):
Listen to “Maria” (“Un, Dos, Tres”, 1995):
Song no.2: “Emi Sodhara”
This is not all that obvious, but still, fairly easily identifiable given how popular the original was at that point in India. The original is Lucky Ali’s “Pyaar ka Musafir”, from his debut album Sunoh (1996). The album literally made who Lucky Ali is, as a musician and was a phenomenal hit in India. Deva uses the original’s prominent prelude (that also plays all through the song) and makes a khichdi of the original tune that is still easily heard in the Telugu song.
Listen to “Emi Sodhara” (1998):
Listen to “Pyaar ka Musafir” (Sunoh, 1996):
Song no.3: “Romance Rythms”
This is less obvious/well-known as a lift, though the Telugu song was mighty successful. The song is an almost note-to-note lift of ‘Noonday Sun’, from the album ‘Comparsa’ (1998), by Deep Forest, consisting of two French musicians, Michel Sanchez and Éric Mouquet. Deep Forest’s music is a style of world music, sometimes called ethnic electronica, mixing ethnic with electronic sounds and dance beats. The Telugu song lifts everything from the original, lock, stock and barrel. Do note that Comparsa was released in January 1998, while Tholi Prema’s soundtrack was released in mid-1998. Even if the dates/year seems too close to offer a benefit of doubt to Deva, you simply need to look at Deva’s track record of plagiarism and decide!
Listen to Romance Rythms (1998):
Listen to “Noonday Sun” (Comparsa, 1998):
Song no.4: “Ee Manase Se Se”
I reserved this for the last because this song is a personal favourite. And I was thoroughly heart-broken to know that Deva had copied this tune! But eventually, I consoled myself and started admiring the way Deva had made a beautifully Indian-sounding song out of something so audibly foreign! The original is—and this is where last week’s update connects—by Dr.Alban! The original song is called “Alabalaba”, from Dr.Alban’s 1996 album, Born in Africa! Ironically, the Telugu song has the same ‘Alabalaba’ vocal prelude! Even more interesting is the way the Telugu song starts – ‘Ee manase se se’. It’s simply derived from the starting verse of the original which goes, ‘Woman’a’Sexy’!! In fact, the full title of the original is – “Alabalaba (Woman’a’Sexy)”. It’s almost like the lyricist heard the original and wrote something in Telugu that sounds like the original’s starting verse. It is appalling that the Telugu filmmaker(s) and Deva didn’t even try to hide the lift and left it in plain eyesight (earshot?)! But yes, the Telugu song goes in a brilliant direction using Dr.Alban’s original as a springboard. It’s a pity it is not an official cover version that can stand on its own, with dignity.
Listen to “Ee Manase Se Se” (1998):
Listen to “Alabalaba” (Woman’a’Sexy) (1996):