Two days after an FIR was filed against Yash Raj Films (YRF) about the non-payment of music royalties to the tune of Rs 100 crore, composer Salim Merchant is the first to speak up. Speaking to The Quint, Merchant, who is one half of the Salim-Sulaiman duo, was quoted as follows – “Yash Raj has been collecting money on behalf of the composer and lyricist – that much I know – but I don’t know whether they have paid anyone. They have certainly not paid me and Sulaiman…”
Salim-Sulaiman have worked on the music for the following YRF films – Neal ‘N’ Nikki, Chak De India!, Roadside Romeo, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Kurbaan, Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year, Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, Pyaar Impossible!, Band Baaja Baraat and Mardaani, apart from giving the background score for numerous other YRF films like Dhoom, Fanaa etc.
Earlier, an independent body called Indian Performing Rights Society, had claimed that YRF had ‘prevented the body from collecting royalties from telecom companies, radio stations and music streaming platforms by pressuring artists into signing illegal agreements.’ The body even claimed that this ‘100 crore’ figure was just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in an industry where the film music companies were routinely cornering musicians, composers & lyricists into signing unfair contracts.
YRF, like the other Bollywood music companies T-Series and Zee Music, collect royalties each time a song is exhibited by a third party – radio stations, TV or even music streaming platforms. According to the Copyright Act (Amendment) Bill, 2012, the music director and the lyricist are prescribed to get 25% each, every time their music is sold to a publisher/music company.
Bollywood’s music companies have been notorious for arm-twisting artistes into unfair contracts. Abhay Deol sported a ‘black eye’ on a red carpet, as a form of protest after being allegedly pressured into signing a contract that would allow the release of the music of his film, One By Two. A R Rahman too got embroiled in a few of these legal tussles in the early 2000s. The Mumbai Police is investigating the above case based on the FIR, which names Aditya Chopra & Uday Chopra as the main accused.