Friday, June 16, 2006

Learning to enjoy the lack of originality...

The last few years in Indian cinema have churned out some really good films and also loads of average and generally worthless ones. While the technical ability of our film makers has improved in leaps and bounds, the lack of original ideas remains a constant bane. Can't these guys come up with one story which I haven't already seen in another movie a few years ago? The other day I happened to watch the Akshay-Katrina starrer 'Humko Deewana Kar Gaye' and the very first scene with the credits was a shameless rip off from the opening sequence from Richard Curtis's 'Love Actually'. The film itself was a bad rip off of 'Notting Hill', with some scenes lifted frame to frame. Then there was Sarkar, Ek Ajnabee, Quayamat, Zinda, Main Asia Hi Hoon and almost every Bhatt film. The list is in fact endless. While some very good work in being done, the writers are taking a back seat. The creative process is pitifully shoddy. I guess living in the jet age does not leave film makers with enough time to think up an interesting and original story. Why try something so weird, when you can walk into a Music World and pick up a random English or International film and turn into a Bollywood extravaganza with sprinklings of romance, melodrama and song and dance. The trend is also moving towards remaking Hindi films of yore. RGV struggles with 'Sholay'. Farhan Akhtar is almost done shooting 'Don', Feroz Khan announces 'Kurbani' with Fardeen playing his role in the original. Not acceptable either, I'm sorry.
The trend doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon, so I thought I might as well list down some of the better 'inspirations' in Indian Cinema.

1. Chori Chori (It happened One Night) - One of the better inspirations, the remake of the Clark Gable film had Raj Kapoor and Nargis in lead roles and some great music from Shankar Jaikishan. The film also spawned a modern version in 'Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin' which wasn't too bad either.

2. Sarkar (The Godfather) - This RGV is certainly one of his better efforts. He credits this film as a remake of Godfather and gives it an Indian twist, keeping most of the major events in tact.
The potent duo of Bachchan Senior and Junior works really well. The background score of the film is lifted and well Indianised with the 'Govinda' chants. He also used camera angles really well and RGV's use of silence is superb. An enjoyable remake. Lets see how RGV does with Bachchan's Humbert Humbert and his take on Nabokov's 'Lolita' (Nishabd).

3. Ganashatru(Enemy of the People) - One of Ray's films which was a remake of Ibsen's classic play. Its message, about the perils of greed, religious fanaticism, and environmental pollution, may be topical, but the film was too static to have total impact. Still, there were enough flashes of Ray's brilliance to make it worthwhile. The film had Soumitra Chatterjee (who else) playing a doctor convinced of the poisoning of a lake, water from which is used in the temples as 'prasad' and his 'against all odds' efforts to create awareness about this pollution.

4. Sholay (7 Samurai/The Magnificent 7) - What can I possibly add about this one?

5. Nayakan (Godfather) - Though not a frame for frame copy, it was based, by Kamal's own admission on The Godfather(the fixation never ends). Brilliant performances, brilliant film. Kamal also co wrote 'Sati Leelavathy', a copy of the Meryll Streep hit 'She Devil'. Also, an enjoyable fim.

6. Karz (The Reincarnation of Peter Proud) - The film was enjoyable, though much of the story was lifted from the 1975 horror/thriller original and LP's music also borrowed heavily from the west ('Om Shanti Om' was a blatant lift and so was the guitar riff from 'Ek hasina thi'. Ghai never admitted the similarity till recently and always claimed never to have even seen the original (which is a blatant lie, if you've seen both films). The film was grand though, and perhaps benefited from the fact the original was rather small budget and raw.



stuti said...

agreed.....another flick i had enjoyed was "pyaar to hona hi tha", which i didn't know was a complete copy of "french kiss" till i happened to watch the latter of the 2 incidentally, while surfing channels. but the movie (hindi version) independently was quite nice i thought!

talking about the remakes....aishwarya instead of rekha in the new "umrao jaan".....wonder how good that will be.....

Abhishek Chatterjee said...

stuti - how could i forget umrao jaan..i dont have too many expectations from aishwarya's take on the role, to be honest...rekha was sublime. and generally jp dutta loses the plot a bit in attempting grand scale films. the music also will be hard to replicate.

Arun Nair said...

Though I agree with you that there is diminishing creativity in the Indian Film Industry, I believe that this is more subjective than you think it is. Lets look at originality in Hollywood (since you have made the comparisons yourself). Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Harry potter, da Vinci, Passion of the Christ, Hulk, Mission Impossible, Poseidon, any secret service guy-saving-the-President movie, Fantastic Four, Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Star Wars (phantom, sith),Troy, Alexander, Ray, Walk the Line, Capote... looks like I can go on and on. Most of above mentioned are inspired from books and history.
At the same time both industries do manage to come up with great originals as well.
And they also manage quite crappy stuff - a speciality of the Indian Film Industry!! Having been associated with the film business briefly, I can tell you that most of the people behind these rather deliver what the audience wants. Nobody wants to push the envelope. A demented SRK can be heard repeating time and again that 'I am not a good actor. I do what my fans want me to do'.

arko said...

one wonders that it can't possibly be that there are no creative writers it the cartel-like structure of the 'industry' that means money chases money and only a few have the chance to create at all...dunno...but as indian movies get seen outside india more and more this cd change bollywd from a entertainment machine to a film industry again, aka hrishikesh days...

Cogito said...

Abhi,There have been numerous versions of " Sound of Music" & "Roman Holiday" in Indian languages. Maniratnam also made a tamil version of " Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid" titled " Thiruda Thiruda (Chor Chor)"."Breakfast at Tiffanys" was very well adapted & made in Malayalam,Tamil & Hindi ( Hera Pheri).I am surprised no one has yet touched the works of Hitchcock yet !

Btw,Kamal was just the hero in Nayakan.It was a Maniratnam film.

Abhishek Chatterjee said...

arun - i hear ppl tend to give audiences what works at the box office...but still no excuse for blatent lifting..i also have no issues with dramatisation of literature and comic books...ur still creating something on celluloid for the first time...ill watch that// but not something i saw on HBO last evening

arko - trust u to give an economic perspective on things!... hrishikesh days are gone my friend, stock up on the dvds.

cogito - i think RGV might have tried a hitchcock, but im not sure in which film..i read some where he was toying with the idea of making 'rear window'.

Ekta said...

Well honestly
When I watch a film am usually immune to where its copied from or lifted from!
Have realised that even I need to enjoy any movie(especially coz most movies today are lifts!!)...will need to see them in absolute terms!!:-)

Abhishek Chatterjee said...

ekta - thats a nice way of looking at absolute terms...its just that i get pissed when i see the same dialogue/action/setting/music ditto lifted from somewhere! totally destroys things for me..