Monday, November 17, 2003

Plagiarism vs. Adaptations

Two long posts in the same day. I can’t remember when that happened previously. But the comment about “blatant copying” by Maniratnam (in his early movies) has really set me off on this.

What would YOU consider plagiarism (while talking about movies!) and what would YOU say is an adaptation? Here is my viewpoint.

My point is, just because the theme is the same as another movie, it does not mean that someone has plagiarized it. Let me use three movies as examples. First one being the case of Thiruda Thiruda by Mani, which I have heard a lot of people claim as a “straight lift” from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. As I mentioned in the last post, I can’t find any similarities beyond the fact that the central characters in both movies are 2 guys and one lady. Well, Thiruda Thiruda had one more, if you consider Anu Agarwal. In Butch Cassidy, the trio go about looting banks first in the USA and then in Bolivia and get killed when one such attempt goes awry. Thiruda Thiruda on the other hand is about a cargo container full of brand new bank notes that gets heisted on its way from the central mint in India. 2 good for nothing vagabonds and an ill treated gal get to know about this and go after it. The mastermind behind the heist is also after it as does his girlfriend who wishes to escape his clutches. The police are on the hunt for the money and the trio who they think has the money. So where is the “lift”?

I would go even as far as to say that I would not consider an movie like 12-B to be plagiarized because in no occasion has Jeeva (the cinematographer who directed this movie) claimed that this is an original story, just in opposite to what some people do when accosted with a question like whether their movie is a “copy” of another. The second thing about 12-B was that the original Sliding Doors, which FYI, starred Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah (seen widely in India as Rachel Weisz’s bungling brother in the Mummy franchise) was set in England and Jeeva had sufficiently put his efforts to “Indianize” it. So I don’t consider it a “copied” movie solely for the effort that went to making the movie look as Indian as the original was British.

On the other hand, Kaante, was a scene to scene lift from not one, two movies, taking one half of the movie from The Usual Suspects and the other from Reservoir Dogs. The director denied all this and the movie got ample newsprint in India. Now we have a statement attributed to Quentin Tarantino that he is happy that Reservoir Dogs has been lifted because he claims he lifted it from Hong Kong (Read the interview with Rahul Bose which mentions this, here!). Will that give filmmakers a passport for more of this kind? I seriously hope that does not happen.

So I have three movies, all three reviled in different levels, for being “copies”. Do you agree with my viewpoints? Or am I making no sense?

Whatever, let us see what you feel. Email me with your comments and I will post if not all your comments, at least some of the most interesting ones on the blog here. Please don’t add your comments on the blog. Email it to this address (you can find it on in the comments box too). Let us see if we can generate some good discussion on this.

(P.S This is not a flame, so incase you are angry and have lots of @#$% for me, please stop. Close this browser window now, take a deep breath, count to fifty while thinking simultaneously about a beautiful girl (or a handsome guy, to be politically correct) of your choice. However, I urge all married readers to think only about their spouses when you take a deep breath and count, because you are past even your “virtual philandering” days. Others please think of anybody other than Aishwarya Rai. She is reserved for my thoughts alone! )

UPDATE: Btw, contrary to expectations, I will NOT, I repeat, I WILL NOT, edit anybody's emails to me. So please use ASCII characters in case you wanna bad mouth me. However I reserve the right to exclude posts. Give me at least that much editorial independence for the sake of ensuring diversity of opinions. And I had to put that "P.S" in bold to make it obvious that I dont intend to flame anyone and to instruct people on what to do if they think they are offended!

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