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Deol makes stand for Indian musicians

Nita Naidoo, Bollywood File columnist. (SUBMITTED)

By Nita Naidoo, 24 hours Vancouver

Abhay Deol. (WENN.COM)

Abhay Deol. (WENN.COM)

There’s a storm brewing between India’s music artists and the country’s record labels over the latter’s heavy-handed tactics. After allegedly being bullied by music companies during the production of his first film, One by Two, Abhay Deol has now entered the fray.

According to the Hindustan Times, the actor turned producer chose to appear at Tuesday’s Screen Awards with his eye smeared in black and blue makeup. He later explained his unusual fashion statement on his Facebook page, noting it was his way “of saying visually (and symbolically) that my film’s marketing has taken a hit (from the music labels).”

The 37-year-old blames T-Series, a leading music company, for delaying the release of the One by Two soundtrack, claiming it pulled out of trailers and promos on the cusp of the film’s Jan. 31 release date.

Deol claimed T-Series asked him to pressure musicians into signing contracts that would have prevented them from claiming ownership and benefitting from royalties.

Leading playback singer Sonu Nigam, who has long championed for the rights of artists, praised Deol, saying “it’s very encouraging step taken by Abhay, and I think it’s high time other film producers too came forward.”

In India, artists basically are offered a one-time lump-sum payment and face being ostracized by the industry if they fail to comply. As it is many have no choice but to sign contracts, effectively ending their rights to ownership.

The charges made by Deol have attracted great attention, prompting the industry to respond.

Bushan Kumar, who heads T-Series, denied the allegation, stating that three songs from the film have already been released. He also noted Viacom 18 was the co-producer, but the company has yet to comment.

Like Nigam, many artists have come out in support of Deol, but affecting change could take a long time, particularly when there are many emerging artists willing to take whatever the industry offers.

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