‘Ibn-e-Batuta, Bagal mein joota’ blared the music in the discotheque and within minutes I was dancing to the foot tapping music along with my friends not knowing what the lyrics was all about. The music lingered in my mind even the next day when I was in my senses. I also noted my 3 year old niece singing the song at home and she came to me and asked “Mama, Ibn Batuta kya hota hai?”

I kept on wondering the same as I had never heard of this word and therefore I surfed the net to find out the meaning of the word ‘Ibn Batuta’. The results showed me many links along with the song clippings in You Tube which I checked out. The song showed a sari clad Vidya Balan along with Arshad Warsi and Nasserudin Shah dancing pitch drunk to the groovy music and the weird sounding lyrics. The song from the movie ‘Ishqiya’ is composed by Vishal Bharadwaj and lyrics by Gulzar.
I felt no surprise for the word not being familiar to me because it has always been a thing with Gulzar to come up with weird sounding words with deeper meanings in his lyrics and poems. I was urged to find out more about the word ‘Ibn-e-batuta’ only to be surprised.

‘Ibn Batuta’ aka Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Al Lawati Al Tanji Ibn Battuta (born Feb. 24, 1304, Tangier, Mor.—died 1368/69) was a noted Arab traveller and writer who travelled for 27 years continuously all over the world vowing “never to travel any road a second time.” He travelled all through Asia, Africa and Europe covering around 120,000 km and on his return wrote the most famous travel book called ‘Rihlah’.

I was feeling Janab Ibn Batuta (for short), in his grave, would be a happy man today to know that centuries after his death he has been immortalized with a catchy song and a controversy accusing the noted lyricist and poet Gulzar of plagiarism.
Ms. Shubha Saxena, the daughter of the renowned poet Shri. Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena, claimed that the makers of ‘Ishqiya’ should have given credit to Shri Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena for the lyrics of the song ‘Ibn-e-batuta, pehen ke joota’ as it was a direct lift from her late father’s poem which goes, “Ibn Batuta Pehen Ke Joota, Nikal Pade Toofan Mein …”

In response, the makers of Ishqiya only had to say that the song was an original creation by Vishal Bharadwaj and Gulzar. The director Abhishek Choubey also added that he was looking for a travel song in his movie and the lyrics recited by Gulzar was apt for the situation. Choubey has heard of Shri. Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena but never knew about this particular poem.

Gulzar was totally irked with the accusation and he mentioned to the media persons “Where is the similarity? Aap line se line mila ke dekhiye. Kya same hai? Is it the name, Ibn Batutta? If it is, then does the name have a copyright? I have always been deeply interested in history, and I knew that Ibn Batutta was a traveller who travelled with Mohammed Bin Tughlaq when he shifted his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad. Tomorrow, if someone uses the name Marco Polo with reference to anything, will that be an issue? Ibn Batutta travelled on foot, all the way to India from Turkey, and in the film, there are these two runaways. I thought the song fit the situation perfectly. You must publish both the lyrics together and get a public opinion on this. I stand by what I say.”

Ms. Shubha whereas specified that she was not looking for any benefits out of the accusation and the makers should give due credit to her father for the lyrics.
This year for Bollywood controversies on plagiarism were a starting point. Whether it was Chetan Bhagat screaming his lungs out to the media accusing Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani for not giving him credit for the story of ‘3 Idiots’ or Sonal Mehta’s accusation that Ram Gopal Varma stole her script to make ‘Rann’.

All big releases of the year have been surrounded by a fair share of ugly spats and controversies. This time around, its Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Ishqiya’ has been hogging all the limelight because of the song. Controversies at the time of release of a movie are nothing new as it not only gives a lot of publicity to the movie and the makers but also to lesser known people who like to take a short route to become famous.

Whatever the outcome of the controversy I can’t stop singing the song, who cares who wrote it until and unless it’s catchy and groovy and serves the purpose of making me dance in a pub or disco.

While going to the press I heard that the forthcoming ‘My Name Is Khan’ has being targeted because of the statements made by Shah Rukh Khan for including Pakistani players in his IPL team. Sena members have gone berserk pulling down posters of the movie and making death threats to SRK. Another round of controversy begins here….

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