Controversy over Jayashri's Oscar-nominated 'Pi's Lullaby' | Deccan Chronicle
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Controversy over Jayashri's Oscar-nominated 'Pi's Lullaby'

PTI | 13th Jan 2013
 Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri during a press conference - AP
Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri during a press conference - AP

Thiruvananthapuram: A trust named after Carnatic musician Irayimman Thampi has accused Bombay Jayashri's Oscar-nominated song 'Pi's Lullaby' of not being an original composition, an allegation denied by the vocalist.

The song, written and sung by Jayashri for the film 'Life of Pi', has been nominated in the Original song category at the Academy awards this year, but the trust has alleged that it is a word-by-word translation of composer Thampi's renowned lullaby in Malayalam "Omanathinkal Kidavo..." Thampi (1782-1856) was the palace singer in the court of Swathi Tirunal Maharaja, the ruler and music legend of Travancore in the 19th century. Legend has it that Thampi composed the lullaby for the royal children.

According to Irayimman Thampi Trust chairman, N. Krishna Varma and secretary Rukmini Bhai Thampuratti, descendants of Thampi, Jayashri's song was a "mere translation of the Malayalam verse into Tamil."

"Jayashri has copied the first eight lines of Irayimman Thampi's lullaby which has passed on to generations and is the greatest among the lullabies of the past, present and the future," Thampuratti told reporters at Cherthala.

Reacting to the brewing controversy, Jayashri has denied the charge against her and maintained that she only wrote whatever came to her heart.

"I can only say that I wrote whatever that came to my heart," Jayashri told PTI at her Chennai residence.

Jayashri is the only Indian nominated at the Oscars this year. The award ceremony is set to be held on February 24 in Los Angeles.

The Trust has threatened to take legal action against Jayashri if she did not come out with an explanation about her song and its striking similarity to Thampi's composition.

"We will not allow the copying of a song just for the sake of getting an award," Varma said.

They said they could not get through to Jayashri over the phone despite several attempts since yesterday. The Trust is based at Naduvile Kovilakam at Cherthala in Alappuzha district, the ancestral home of Irayimman Thampi.

The 156th death anniversary and the 229th jayanthi celebrations of the poet were observed recently. 


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Hariharan.D's picture
by Hariharan.D (not verified) on
But in my opinion this lullaby is quiet different than any other. It has no resemblance with Irayimman Thambi's 'Omana thinkalkkidaavo nalla komala---- song or composed tune. So let Jaysree be the OSCAR winner . Also remember two century passed the Irayimman Thampi's song has composed and published. Until today nobody tried to sing and get an OSCAR for that song and the Oscar was not born yet.. Even if Jayshri's song has any mach with this, it is not a sin or wrong work ! OK ?
Narayan Das Raman's picture
by Narayan Das Raman (not verified) on
The trusties are trying to gain a little limelight by making hay during the Oscars. I know both Malayalam and Tamil being a Tamilian Mallu, and there is nary any plagiarism here. Lullabies in Tamil and Malayalam are sure going to sound similar, for Malayalam has borrowed from Tamil and vice-versa. Both are Dravidian tongues and will have the same twang. And royalty should basically be daft considering how easily the British, Portuguese, the French have conned these coastal dwellers all along the years and taken the spice away from Kerala all along and somewhere along the route fixing a higher value for their money over ours. And even quite recently the Eyetalians took pot shots and popped off a couple of fishermen and then holidayed Christmas with their women, while the women of the unfortunates had to spend Christmas sans breadwinners. 156 years since he has scooted and his intellectual property buried and they still wants his chips encashed. This is the height of avarice ! Wah Mallu, Wah !!!
Jambunathan Iyer's picture
by Jambunathan Iyer (not verified) on
This is quite upsetting to know that we belonging to the same country and culture are contradicting and raising the curtains high to show the gap we create among ourselves. Bombay Jayashri has done a wonderful work in bringing the brilliance of the Indian classical Music to the World. If she is nominated for Oscars, I consider it is the long awaited recognition and Victory of the Indian Classical Music through her. To be honest I have not heard to what is claimed to be the original version written by "Shri Irayimman Thambi" even if it was his composition and his work, are we not supposed to be Happy that our Music is going to be recognized and honored on prestigious platform like Oscars? I whole heatedly wish our Carnatic Angel Ms.Jayashri a walk on the Red Carpet..My cheers to her..
by THOMAS VARGHESE (not verified) on
Rahman copying from the west and acting like a westerner, Jayshri copying from Malayalam. In both [Sathyam] Truth is the casuality. In the long run Tamil is bound to suffer.
prsquared's picture
by prsquared (not verified) on
I was really looking forward to this song beating Skyfall which looked set in stone to win the award. There's nothing orignal about the theme and music... It's a very "Bond" song. But Adele's lyrics did bring some originality to it... Then I heard Pi's lullaby. Looked like the only song capable of beating Skyfall. But the lack of originality in the lyrics is going to cost it, I'm afraid...


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