The song, Navarasam, had highlighted the dying fall of part-drama part-dance artform of Kathakali besides caste prejudice in the world of arts
An enrapturing prelude on the violin, which is almost made to sound like the folk Pullavan Vina played during Sarpam Pattu – the ritual dance performed in temples by the women of the Pulluvar community during the serpent worship ceremony in Kerala – opens Navarasam – the song from the eponymous debut album of Kochi-based band Thaikuddam Bridge. Played by founder and frontman Govind Vasantha, the magnificent piece is followed by heavy guitars, massive reverb, Vipin Lal’s gentle voice, and the rock frenzy that’s built along. The sound swells as if an enormous orchestra is pumping it up, finding a state of reverie alongside some tender vocals. It’s a brilliant sonic extravaganza that hits the spot.
The band found much attention for the song, which also made it to the credits of Manoj Bajpayee and Samantha Ruth Prabhu-starrer, The Family Man. But what Vasantha and the band didn’t anticipate was that they will find elements of this 2015 piece in Rishabh Shetty-starrer Kannada film, Kantara – set in the 19th century, about a demi-god named Bhoota who gets the local king to give some of his forestlands to the tribals, which years later are claimed back by the king’s successor. The song Varaha Rupam in Kantara opens with a similar prelude, only that it’s played on a nadhaswaram. Vasantha told The Indian Express, “I found out about the song when people began to message and congratulate the band for being featured in Kantara. That had me listen to the song they created and I figured that this was beyond being influenced.”
Vasantha, who is unhappy with the copyright infringement, has already put together a legal team to proceed with a suit against the filmmaker, producers, and creative team of Kantara. “There is a process to these things. They could have actually asked us to use the song and we would have tweaked it for them. It would have been good on the filmmakers’ part to use an independent band in their film,” says Vasantha, who is now a well-known composer in the Tamil and Malayalam music industry and a sought-after name known for his signature blend of classical and contemporary sound.