The producers of 96 have clarified that royalty was paid to composer Ilaiyaraaja for every song of his that was used in the film. The issue was brought up after Ilaiyaraaja spoke about today’s movies using and profiting from his songs, in an interview to The New Indian Express recently.
S Nandagopal of Madras Enterprises, the producer of 96, told Silverscreen that he was disappointed that the matter was getting blown up when they had paid royalties. “We want to clarify that before the film released we paid royalty for every song that was used,” he said.
In the interview which released on May 26, Ilaiyaraaja did not mention 96 specifically, and also said that he does not watch movies today. He was asked about period sequences in films today, with 96 as an example in which the heroine sings his compositions, to which Ilaiyaraaja said, “It is very wrong. Just because it’s a story that happens in a particular period, the movie need not use the song of that period. When they (composers) lack, they fill the gap by stealing the songs that are already popular. The reason for this is that they don’t have the stuff to give songs that are equivalent (to the popular ones).”
He further gave the example of the climax scene from Yaadon Ki Baarat, the 1973 Hindi film in which composer RD Burman did not use a song from 20 years ago for a scene set in the period. “He self-composed a song. Isn’t that what music is about? Make a song equivalent to the 80s music. Why can’t that be done? Because you cannot separate my 80s songs from their popularity among people, will you use them?”
Since this interview released, several people said that the producers of 96 should have acquired permission from Ilaiyaraaja before using his songs. Following this, a member from the team clarified that they have already paid royalty for every song that was used.
Firstly, the makers should have acquired permission from Raja to use his songs. Not doing so is totally unprofessional. Lets stop this angle here.
On the other side, Raja is illogical & (with due respect) stupid in his comments.
— புரட்சி_______முகில் (@cheyyaruarun) May 26, 2019
— aarthi@ Aarthi now (@dreamboatme) May 27, 2019
Directed by Prem Kumar, with music by Govind Vasantha, 2018’s hit film 96 starring Trisha and Vijay Sethupathi in the lead, was about childhood lovers who meet at a school reunion. The film used Ilaiyaraaja’s classics such as Putham Puthu Kalai from Alaigal Oivathillai (1981) to speak of their romance from 20 years ago.
96 is one of the many films that have used Ilaiyaraaja’s songs alongside original soundtracks. The other recent films include Super Deluxe and Mehandi Circus.