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AR Rahman clarifies using AI to recreate voices of late singers Bamba Bakya, Shahul Hameed: ‘We took permission’

AR Rahman used AI (Artificial Intelligence) to recreate the voices of two late singers, Bamba Bakya and Shahul Hameed for a song titled Thimiri Yezhuda in Rajinikanth’s Lal Salaam. This left many fans divided on the internet. Now, the Oscar-winning composer has given a clarification on the issue to reveal that permission was taken by the families of the legendary singers and were also sent remuneration. (Also read: Rajinikanth’s sports drama Lal Salaam gets a new release date)

AR Rahman has clarified on using the voices of two late singers, Bamba Bakya and Shahul Hameed for a new song.

What AR Rahman said

AR Rahman took to his X account on Tuesday and shared Sony Music South’s post highlighting how an AI tool was used to recreate the late singers’ voices. In the caption, the singer said: “We took permission from their families and sent deserving remuneration for using their voice algorithms ..technology is not a threat and a nuisance if we use it right…(folded hands emoticon).” He also added the hashtags respect and nostalgia in the post.

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Singer Bamba Bakya has collaborated with Rahman on many songs. The singer died in 2022 due to a cardiac arrest. Meanwhile, Shahul Hameed died in a car crash in 1997, near Chennai.

Mixed reactions

Fans reacted to Rahman’s clarification on the microblogging site. A fan said, “Internet maybe divided about this but kudos to @arrahman! The nostalgia of listening to a someone’s voice who’s no longer with us is by itself a gift to the families & thanks to technology. Would love to hear Swarnalatha’s and SPB’s voices in future.” Another said, “You are such a gem dearest Thalaivaaa. None can ever imagine or do something like this unless it’s you.”

Not all reactions were positive, as many users also called the gesture disrepectful while also reducing opportunities for upcoming talents in the industry. A user wrote, “Sir, using someone’s voice without their consent violates their rights and raises ethical questions about ownership and consent. You can do better. Because you know better.” Another said, “No, this only creates zero opportunities for other singers to have a chance at singing. This further leaves room for AI to take over. I don’t understand why he’s unable to get this.” “This sets a dangerous precedent, especially coming from someone like you. And what’s with the ‘nostalgia’ hashtag. If we want nostalgia we would go and listen their existing songs not make some AI assisted stuff,” read another comment.

Lal Salaam is a sports action drama directed by Aishwarya Rajinikanth, which is set to hit theatres on February 9.

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