Abrar Ul Haq threatens Karan Johar with legal action after 'Nach Punjaban' featured in Indian movie trailer

Abrar Ul Haq threatens Karan Johar with legal action after 'Nach Punjaban' featured in Indian movie trailer

The singer says this is his sixth song being "copied" and he won't stand for it anymore.
Updated 25 May, 2022

Every other month we hear of Pakistani songs being copied by Bollywood and this week's victim is Abrar Ul Haq's 'Nach Punjaban'. It has been copied in Karan Johar's film JugJugg Jeeyo.

On Sunday, the Indian filmmaker and actors Varun Dhawan, Kiara Advani, Neetu Singh and Anil Kapoor took to Instagram and shared the official trailer of their upcoming film. Almost two minutes into the trailer a familiar tune starts to play, a song that's been one of the Pakistani singer biggest hits over the years. 'Nach Punjaban' is from Haq's album of the same name that released in 2002.

Taking the news to his Twitter account, Haq wrote, "I have not sold my song 'Nach Punjaban' to any Indian movie and reserve the rights to go to court to claim damages. Producers like Karan Johar should not use copy songs. This is my 6th song being copied which will not be allowed at all."

In response to Haq's tweet, record label Movie Box said on Twitter that the song had been officially licensed to be included in the film and that Johar and his production company have the legal rights to use the song in the upcoming movie. They also called the 53-year-old singer's tweet "defamatory" and 'completely unacceptable".

Later the singer clarified that his song hasn't been "licensed" to anyone either and if anyone tries to claim it, they must produce an agreement to back up their claims. In the tweet, Haq repeated his threat of legal action.

Record label T-Series also issued a statement on Twitter and said that they have "legally acquired the rights to adapt the song 'Nach Punjaban' "that was released on iTunes on January 1st, 2002 and available on Lollywood Classics' YouTube channel, owned by Movie Box.”

The statement attached with the tweet read that all due credits shall be given upon the release of the song across all platforms. "As represented by Moviebox Records Label the said song copyrights exclusively vest with moviebox only with all valid documents," it concluded. It is not clear whether Moviebox holds the rights to the song.

The song in the trailer used the exact same tune as Haq's original but featured different lyrics. The trailer features the song at the 40-second mark and begins with the guitar hook of the original song. It later picks up the pace at one minute 50 seconds with the trailer singer mimicking Haq's chorus.

Images reached out to both Haq and Johar for a comment but hasn't received a response yet. Johar and the cast haven't commented on the claims made by Haq as of Monday morning.

The film is directed by Raj Mehta and is a joint production between Johar's Dharma Productions and Viacom18 Studios. The film is described as "a story set in the heart of Patiala and much like the city, it’s full of love and laughter, colour and drama. It’s about family and its values, unresolved yearnings, and unexpected reconciliations."

Starring the crème de la crème of the Bollywood industry, JugJugg Jeeyo is set to release in Indian cinemas on June 24 this year.

The news of this incident of plagiarism comes as the internet is still reeling from Kanika Kapoor and Hadiqa Kiani's 'Buhe Bariyan' controversy. 'Baby Doll' Kanika was called out by Kiani for copying her song 'Boohey Barian'. The singer had said that it's a "shameless rendition of the song" her mother wrote. "No one asked for my permission, no one has given me royalties, they just take the song that my mother wrote and I recorded, and use it as an easy money making scheme," she had written in an Instagram story that has since then expired.

After Kiani's Instagram stories were widely shared by Indian media as well, Kanika had told Hindustan Times that her song is completely original and that her and the label hasn't copy-pasted any 'folk song'. “We have not copy-pasted any old folk song. We used two lines as inspiration. It is very unfair to the writer Kunwar Juneja and Shruti Rane who composed this new song. Also, it is unfair to me if anybody says that I am trying to steal someone’s work," she had said.

Though the 'Luv Letter' singer extended an apology for upsetting anyone, and said her and the people behind her latest track are "credible people".