A ‘lift' here and a ‘lift' there

BY MONAZIR ALAM| IN Media Practice | 28/09/2012
Hindi films have"progressed" from seeking"inspiration" to a scene-by-scene plagiarism from Hollywood hits.
Barfi! will bring in disrepute to Indian cinema at the Oscars, says MONAZIR ALAM. Pix: Film-maker Anurag Basu
Barfi!, India’s official entry to the Oscars, has once again triggered the film-plagiarism debate. Hindi films have many a time faced the charge of plagiarism. This time, it is Barfi!, a film written and directed by Anurag Basu. 
Mumbai Mirror has published a detailed report on plagiarism in Barfi!. The newspaper deals with the charge of plagiarism scene by scene. It says: Barfi! bears a stark resemblance to the Hollywood film Benny & Joon (1993) and Korean film Oasis (2002). And one of the recurring tunes has been stirred up by Pritam by drawing heavily from two tunes composed by Yann Tiersen that were used in Amelie (2001).
And there is more: Charlie Chaplin from City Lights (1931) inspired Ranbir to wake up under a covered statue. And it was Mr. Bean from an episode titled Back To School who taught Ranbir how to get rid of a sticky bit of paper as he tries to put up posters in Kolkata.
Mr. Bean's (from Mr. Bean's Holiday, 2007) sticky paper routine comes in handy when Ranbir tries to entertain Priyanka by sticking paper to his eyelids and lips as well. Jackie Chan from Project A (1983) has taught the actor how to ride a bicycle through narrow lanes with cops chasing. And Buster Keaton's Cops (1922) has inspired him to evade the cops with the help of a ladder.
And it doesn't end there. Rupa Ganguly, for instance, must have watched The Notebook (2004) before introducing daughter Ileana D'Cruz to her former boyfriend. The same film inspired Priyanka to snuggle up to Ranbir on his hospital bed. The scene where headlights rush towards Priyanka only to be revealed as two bikes is from Mr. Nobody (2009). The recurring shots of a hamster in a cage are from Black Cat, White Cat (1988). The scene where Ranbir is ogling at a Sadhu's crotch is inspired by a Swedish newspaper advert.
The interrogation scene wherein Ranbir is asked to reveal everything starting from his date of birth draws from The Goonies (1985). Also, Ranbir and Ileana's date on a goods train during which they distribute food to the needy is from Fried Green Tomatoes (1991).
The news website IBN Live discusses the charge of plagiarism and says in a report: “Barfi!: The thin line between inspiration and plagiarism.” Similar attempts on a few other websites and blogs prompted us to have a re-look at the film.
Some of the recent Hindi films are poor reproductions of classy southern hits. Barfi! is at least a well-made product. A news website says that as a creative artiste, the filmmaker as a professional whose credibility has been questioned owes an explanation to the people who have showered him with affection after Barfi! was made.
Hindi news website Dainik Bhaskar, which has come out with five proofs of plagiarism, says Barfi! will bring disrepute to Indian cinema at the Oscars. (naqal ke paanch saboot Oscar mein naak kataegi Barfi!).
Film critic Anupama Chopra, in her book published last year, First Day First Show, has a full chapter on plagiarism. This is how it goes:
Scene: Inside a three-star Mumbai hotel. A Hindi film producer enters the hotel room. There is a TV, a VCR, 200-odd video tapes and two script writers in the room. Cut to a close up of the producer’s sweaty face.
Producer to writers: I have dates for Jackie Shroff, Juhi Chawla, and Anupam Kher. Can you give me something?
The writers pull out a print of Casablanca: This is your film.
Producer: We need action. Jackie hai to film mein fight bhi honi chahiye.
Writer A: Exactly. We will put in a twist. The second half will be Die Hard.
Writer B: Both were hits.
The producer beams and the two writers glow as another successful day is over.

Anupama Chopra says that over 90 per cent of the Hindi movies currently in production are either remakes of Hollywood blockbusters, Hong Kong films, Older Hindi films, or a khichdi of everything. Some of the films are frame by frame copies of successful films while other movie makers lift scenes from different films, put them in an order, and then pass them off as their own. This is Bollywood’s new game.

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