Bachpan ka pyar is a viral hit, but few gains for its original creators

(from left): Sahdev Dirdo, who turned #BachpanKaPyar into a viral trend, Kamlesh Barot, the singer of the original track, songwriter PP Bariya, and music composer Mayur Nadiya (Imaging: Rohit Goyal)
(from left): Sahdev Dirdo, who turned #BachpanKaPyar into a viral trend, Kamlesh Barot, the singer of the original track, songwriter PP Bariya, and music composer Mayur Nadiya (Imaging: Rohit Goyal)


Sahdev Dirdo is all over social media and has cut a song deal, but the original singer, composer and lyricist are still waiting for their big break

MUMBAI : Saarani koi vyaakhya na hoye, kharaab na dus kaaran hoye is a Gujarati saying that roughly translates to: Success has no explanation, failure has ten. Dhiren Trivedi and Mahendra Patel, co-founders of Meshwa Electronics, use it to justify the inexplicable success of Bachpan ka pyar (childhood love), a now-viral song whose original version their Ahmedabad-based film production and distribution company had released in April 2019.

For the uninitiated, Bachpan ka pyar became an internet sensation recently after an old video of Sahdev Dirdo, a young boy from Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district, singing the refrain in his school went viral on Instagram Reels. Since then, Dirdo has amassed the love of the masses for his innocent rendition, besides being felicitated by his state’s chief minister, Bhupesh Baghel, and appearing as a guest on music-centric reality shows like Indian Idol. But the creators of the original song—singer Kamlesh Barot, songwriter PP Bariya, music composer Mayur Nadiya—aren’t getting as much exposure, largely due to the commercial realities of the regional music industry.

Two weeks ago, Dirdo featured as a singer and model in rapper Badshah’s version of Bachpan ka pyar, whose rights Universal Music Group, the record label representing the pop singer, has acquired from Meshwa Electronics for an undisclosed amount.

Badshah’s video had clocked over 104 million views as of reporting time and was the top trending video on YouTube India under the music category. The producers at Meshwa said they were happy with the deal with Universal without divulging specifics.

As part of the agreement, the core team of the original track was given due credit in the description of Badshah’s video as well as during the Indian Idol episode featuring Dirdo. The acknowledgement got the makers mainstream attention and put to rest several false claims of ownership to the original soundtrack. But the gains aren’t as large as one would imagine for singer Kamlesh Barot, songwriter PP Bariya, and music composer Mayur Nadiya.

Singer Barot from Halol, a small town in Gujarat’s Panchmahal district, says many labels are eager to sign him now, but they turn noncommittal the moment he tells them he cannot use the Bachpan ka pyar refrain in any new tracks as he doesn't own the rights to the song. He admits that things would have been different “if only he had the better sense" to release the song on his own YouTube channel back in 2019.

L to R: Singer Kamlesh Barot with Dhiren Trivedi and Mahendra Patel of Meshwa Electronics
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L to R: Singer Kamlesh Barot with Dhiren Trivedi and Mahendra Patel of Meshwa Electronics

These are the commercial realities of the music industry, says the head of a record label who chose to stay anonymous. “Most artistes prefer to take a one-time payment instead of betting on the song for the long term by acquiring stake and encashing royalty."

The singer-songwriter did get a portion of the rights pay-out from Meshwa, but since they do not own any rights to the song, that amount was but a gesture of goodwill. Nadiya, the music composer of the song, could not speak to Mint as he is unwell.

Meanwhile, Gujarati songwriter Bariya says he's getting requests to pen lyrics in Hindi now. His market rate has gone up from 5,000 to a mere 8,000 per song.

Songwriters are paid on the lower side these days, as “the overall Indian music consumption trend has moved from higher lyrical quality to higher musical quality," says the record label executive. Unlike singers, who make most of their income from live events, lyricists don’t have multiple avenues to make money off a song.

Bariya’s abysmally low market rate is also a function of Gujarati music being one of the lowest among regional music industries. Punjabi, Bhojpuri and Telugu are the leading ones. “Gujarati audience is happy with Hindi content except for the festival time and that affects ad rates and overall pay-outs," says the record label head.

Nevertheless, the artistes remain optimistic that come festive season, they’ll be able to leverage the popularity of this song. A sequel to the song is already in the pipeline, we hear, and this one may feature Barot's son as a singer.

“Let another song become a hit and maybe then I’ll charge 50,000," says a hopeful Bariya from Godhra municipality in Panchmahal district of Gujarat. Barot, too, says he’s learning to negotiate better deals while focusing on his own studio.

A fair bit of learning had gone into composing Bachpan ka pyar in 2017-18, too. Bariya had just delivered a hit track in Gujarati back then which also hinged on childhood love. So he knew this theme resonates with their audience. Barot had observed that their songs had appeal in regions where adivasis live, including the area Dirdo is from. Hence, Bachpan ka pyar was tuned to the rhythm of the timli and gafuli, both popular tribal dance routines.

It is perhaps this niche appeal that explains why, in spite of all the frenzy, the original track still has less than one-tenth the views that Badshah’s more mainstream version has garnered within 10 days of release. Without this niche appeal though, Dirdo may never have discovered the song in the first place.

As Barot recalls: “We had done shows in tribal areas in the past and people had requested we make songs in Hindi. Bachpan ka pyar was the only Hindi song in an entire Gujarati album when it was released."

The song is effectively a testimony to how short-video-sharing platforms redefine music promotion in these times, making it near impossible for anyone to predict when, and in which form, a song will gain traction.

Do the makers of the original song grudge Dirdo his fame? The artistes say they hope they can get some of the love that Dirdo has got from the mainstream entertainment industry. “If it were an adult in his place, we may have felt bad. But because he’s a kid, we feel happy for him and are thankful to him," says Patel of Meshwa Electronics.

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