The claim by the descendents of Malayalam poet Irayimman Thampi that the lyrics of ‘Pi’s Lullaby’ — which has won an Oscar nomination for Bombay Jayashri — have been lifted from his work Omanathinkal Kidavo is rather tenuous. Why did they make the allegation only after the song was nominated for an Oscar and not earlier?
A resemblance or even the use of the words from a lullaby which has common and popular words cannot make the claims of plagiarism credible. Tamil and Malayalam have many words and expressions which are very similar. In music and other forms of art and culture, there has always been a lot of sharing that goes to show the mutual influence of cultures over the years.
Bombay Jayashri’s nomination for the Oscars is commendable. While we all hope she will win, using the nomination as a yardstick to celebrate our talent is somewhat misplaced as we have no dearth of it. Compared to Hollywood’s film budgets, ours pale in comparison but the quality of many movies and the acts stand out. It is a pity that these films were never made in English and embraced by the western audience.