“Glorified Dacoit”: Bollywood lyricist Manoj Muntashir condemned for brazen plagiarism

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Bollywood lyricist Manoj Muntashir is facing widespread condemnation for allegedly plagiarising a poem written by Robert J Lavery in 2007 and publishing it as his own. What has alarmed netizens is Muntashir’s refusal to apologise for what appears to be a brazen act of literary theft.

This was after a Twitter user published a poem of Muntashir, published as part of his book Meri Fitrat Hai Mastana. Published by Vani Prakashan, the Twitter user wrote, Meri Fitrat Hai Mastana also has a poem in Hindi titled Mujhe Call Karna (Call me).

The first few lines of Muntashir’s poem, when translated in English, reads, “If one day you are feeling sad and feel like crying, then call me. Perhaps I may not be able to stop your tears, but will cry with you. If one day you get frightened of loneliness, then call me. Perhaps I will not be able to end your fear, but I will share your loneliness with you.”

The Hindi poem by Muntashir ends with these lines, “And one day when you call me but don’t get a response from me, then run fast to see me. Perhaps I need you.”

According to Amazon website, Muntashir’s book Meri Fitrat Hai Mastana was published in 2018, 11 years after Lavery’s poem was published in his book Love lost: Love found.

The description available on the Amazon website about Lavery’s book reads, “After facing the death of his son and losing his wife of thirty-two years to breast cancer, Lavery struggled to deal with overwhelming grief. He sought solace in poetry, letting the words speak for the deep hurt in his soul. Yet in the midst of the darkness, Lavery saw hope and drew on its strength to see him through the difficult times. Love lost, Love found stands as a moving testament to the power and courage of the human spirit in the throes of pain and anguish.”

Here are the words from Lavery’s poem, “if one day you feel like crying…call me. I don’t promise that I will make you laugh, But I can cry with you.

“If one day you want to run away, Don’t be afraid to call me. I don’t promise to ask you to stop, But I can run with you.

“If one day you don’t want to listen to anyone call me, I promise to be there for you, but I also promise to remain quiet

“But…If one day you call and there is no answer…come fast to see me.. Perhaps I need you.”

No sooner did the allegations of plagiarism emerge, Muntashir began to face widespread condemnation for alleged plagiarism with many calling him ‘glorified dacoit.’

Muntashir, who’s shied away from using his Hindu Brahmin surname Shukla up until now, was recently in the news after he faced widespread condemnation for his Islamophobic rant on Twitter. Visibly ashamed of carrying his Hindu Brahmin surname Shukla and replacing it with a language, introduced in the subcontinent by Islamic rulers, the Kesari writer had called the same rulers from the past dakait (robbers).