Original singer of ‘Kala Chashma’ says he isn’t getting royalties for his now viral song

Original singer of ‘Kala Chashma’ says he isn’t getting royalties for his now viral song

The song was originally sung by Amar Arshi in 1991 and then recreated by Badshah and Neha Kakkar for Siddharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif's 2016 film Baar Baar Dekho.
05 Sep, 2022

‘Kala Chashma’ has taken over the internet once again but this time, there are a whole lot of non-desis grooving to it. The credit for re-popularising the song goes to The Quick Style, a Norwegian hip hop dance group that went viral for dancing on the Bollywood hit recently. Since then, the dance steps have been recreated by on TikTok by millions of users, including Demi Lovato and the Indian cricket team. But the original singer of the song, Amar Arshi, says he hasn’t profited from the song going viral.

Arshi wrote ‘Kala Chashma’ in 1991. The song was recreated for 2016 film Baar Baar Dekho starring Katrina Kaif and Siddharth Malhotra. The 2016 version was sung by Badshah and Neha Kakkar and was a big hit.

The singer told Mint on Monday that his son had been telling him that his song was all over the internet but he didn’t pay attention until two weeks ago when he started getting calls from his friends from all around the world.

Arshi is a London-based Punjabi singer who started his journey 31 years ago with ‘Kala Chashma’.

The singer told Indian media, “I remember performing the song for Jalandhar DD (Doordarshan) a few years later. Perhaps that performance is what serves as its music video now.” He was thrilled to know the song has resurfaced but was not able to hide his displeasure in not getting due credit for his creation.

He explained that he knew very little about royalties then and his compensation for re-recording it. “I don’t think most of these people making dance videos to this song know that I sang it. For all the raula [buzz] this song has generated in recent weeks, I haven’t made any monetary gains from it. I can’t understand contracts written in English. I knew little about royalties as a concept back then. I didn’t think the song would become this big,” he said.

Since the original dance number went viral two months ago in June, The Quick Style’s choreography video racked up 65 million views on YouTube. The trend itself has 129.2 million views on TikTok and the 2016 version of ‘Kala Chashma’ has 819 million views on YouTube.