Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bollywoodi Copy-art

If somebody wants to have an in-depth knowledge of the subject called “copy-art”, I suggest him to pack his bag and take the next flight to Bollywood. Last weekend my husband and I were watching a Woody Allen classic, Husbands and Wives; and after barely five minutes of the movie, we both felt that we had watched the picture before. I taxed my brain trying to find out where I had seen it, but sadly my mind couldn’t reply, the inability of my brain to solve my query led me to believe that may be I need to take a memory supplement to boost my comatose memory level. But then, as we went on watching the movie for another ten minutes or so, it came to us, like lighting, we had indeed seen a Hindi movie, a retrograded Bollywood version of the Husbands and Wives. It is called Dil Kabaddi, and I remembered how I had thoroughly enjoyed the mature directorial work and even had recommended the movie to some of my friends. Little had I known then that the movie which I had so enjoyed was copied directly, even painstakingly, from the Woody Allen movie. I know I should have googled the name before because that night when I did, I found a series of film reviews that stated how Bollywood is becoming a masterful copycat. I am not doing a vivisection of the Bollywood animal, but I feel at heart that copy art is fake art, a sort of art that is trivial and therefore worthless. It is true that all that glitters cannot be gold, all films made cannot be classics, but Bollywood should aim at something original rather then copying directly from Hollywood movies. I went on to watch the full movie and at the end of it, I felt like emailing the director with the question what good it did to him copying a whole classic movie—scene to scene, frame to frame, dialogue to dialogue—did it bring out his creativity or did it show us how utterly hapless he is as director? The fact that he employed the Bollywood stars in his movie put dialogues in their lips and made them act so beautifully barely shows his management skills. I feel bad for Rahul Bose and Konkona Sen who have acted so well in the movie, they are well deserved actors who brought out the essence of the film, but their work will not be given any importance in international film community because of the director’s action of shameless copying the Woody Allen movie. In fact, not only Dil Kabaddi, a series of Bollywood films that are released every year are merely copies of some Hollywood movie or the other. Ghajni, the Aamir Khan classic, is inspired by Memento, and I am sorry to say that Ghajni didn’t do justice to the subtle and emotionally stark Memento by incorporating the theme and putting in all the Bollywood spices and thereby creating a jambalaya of god knows what. Now the question is why Bollywood thrives on copy-art? Are the directors and producers not confident in creating original screenplays anymore, or is it another marketing technique, the sole motive of which is big-cash-less-work. It is sad that they don’t realize that by doing a complete replica of a Hollywood movie they are sacrificing the quality of the film industry, and are using the acting skills of so many talented actors for their vile, money making strategies. Compromising the quality and creativity of such good actors is nothing but an offense to me. Added to that, they are encouraging the Indian audience to indulge happily in plagiarism and forget all originality and creativity that they might have in them. Being inspired by a piece of art—a movie or a book—is okay, but copying it from start to finish is a transgression.

I felt bad for Woody Allen, who had put so much thought and effort in his movie, and now some nameless Bollywood director took everything and stripped his work of its gravity. I also detest the way the Bollywood copy-movies never mention the name of the actual movie or the name of the director who they copied their movie and screen play from. I found no referencing, not a word about Woody Allen in Dil Kabaddi; the director just used Allen’s art to glorify his own name. He must have thought how a large section of Indian audience would come to know about the art-theft? Keeping in mind the fact that a large portion of Bollywood loving people have no access to internet or Hollywood movies; his theft would be unknown to the world. But there sure are people like us, bloggers and intellectuals, who before garlanding the director with beloved praises would love be critical to the form of art he has produced. There are so many good Indian writers and they have produced masterpieces in literature and art, I wonder why Bollywood never thinks of using some of such great creative works in their movies. If you watch carefully most of the recent Bollywood movies, you will notice that it is ‘love’ which is the sole topic of almost all the movies, often blended with hot spices like ‘religious clashes and vendettas’, ‘gangster wars’ and then again ‘love’. The circle is so small; they only have a handful of topics. As for the dialogues, let’s give that part a blind eye. I cannot recall one good movie after Taare Zameen Par and A Wednesday or Madhur Bhandarkar’s Page 3 that touched me. And after watching Husbands and Wives, I have decided to abstain from watching Bollywood movies unless they are original and creative. When Bollywood talks about class and quality, I know they are merely rodomontading about their marketing skills.

Finally, I have forever wondered why Satyajit Ray is the only film director Hollywood and International Film Community respects? I now have the answer. Ray was original and talented. His passion for art was real and not adulterated with money making strategies. That is probably why his works are classics in the world of cinema, and even if he is no longer with us, his masterpieces—Apu Trilogy, Ghare baire and other works—have broken all the boundaries of time and space and they will continue to be the only Kohinoor in Indian cinema. I am angered even with the idea of comparing a genius like Ray with the modern Bollywood directors, who lack the zeal of producing quality cinema. They can never be Ray, because they never try or aim to become somebody like him.

A few weeks back, I was having a conversation with a friend, and we were talking about the Oscars and why Bollywood never gets one nowadays. Slumdog Millionaire is NOT a Bollywood movie, even though it used Bollywood technicians and musicians, it is a directorial work of Danny Boyle. Slumdog Millionaire in fact is a slap on contemporary Bollywood movies since it depicts in its central theme and structure the Indian author Vikas Swarup’s book “Q&A”. Couldn’t an Indian director have made this movie? Couldn’t he have used the genius of A.H Rahman and Gulzar to make the heavenly music for it, but did they do it—No! Then why does Bollywood treat Slumdog Millionaire as its own property when the truth is, it is not. Bollywood has all the talent it needs to make an Oscar winning movie, the problem is they never use their talents in a proper way, they never channel creativity in masterful fashion. I am happy that talented actors like Anil Kapoor and Irfan Khan are exploring Hollywood and not being incarcerated in the cell of the Bollywoodi world where they have no scope to flourish and express their creativity.

© Barnali Banerjee., all rights reserved.

Say No to Junk Mails


Forward this message 2 ur ATLEAST 10 friends including me

2 make ur mom live long”

Have you ever thought what could happen if you don’t forward this message from some anonymous philosopher? I guess your mother would have to die an untimely death and that too because of you and your skepticism.

I received the above message from a virtual friend at a social networking website. I was instantly shocked that he, who is a lawyer, could forward an utterly illogical, brainless forward message to his friends. These spam forward messages and mails flood our mailboxes everyday, and each one has some imperative message in it. They ask us to forward the message, in most cases, to all the people in our contact list and thereby save ourselves from utter mishap. If you read them carefully, you will feel that Cassandra’s clairvoyant spirit might have haunted these divine philosophers who write these predictions in their dream, and her specter might have insisted that they read the mind of the world. But Cassandra would never do such a thing, since she, I guess, has more important things to do, and I think people who write these baseless messages and use the softer side of our mind to propagate their bogus ideas, should better find another useful profession.

The soul aim of these forward junk posts, as I call them, are to make us truckle in the face of misfortune. We as human beings should have the courage to face life; and our minds, in order to prosper, should be devoid of baseless fears and superstitions. I agree that faith plays an important role in our lives; I think religion and belief are an intrinsic part of our existence. But these people use the suppleness of our mind and force us to believe that if we don’t cater to their wishes (i.e. forwarding the mails or messages) something really bad would happen or we would miss the chance of changing our checkered lot. My question to these people is where on earth did they know all these? Did they meet the Almighty? Or did they decipher the codes of life and death? I know they cannot answer me, because their prescience depends on chicanery. They make a series of chimerical stuff up and throw them at humble and honest people. And these people, mostly out of fear or out of sheer practice, instead of stopping the process of sending and receiving these junk mails altogether, send the mails to every contact in the list and thereby propagate the bogus ideas.

Here are a few mails that I had in my inbox:

I do not have any personal acquaintance with the President of Argentina, and due to my lackadaisical social skills, I totally forgot to forward this important message. I did have a lot of disorder in my life, well, we all do, but I am not intending to blame my act of not sending this mail to others for my personal problems. I am not agnostic, I am a believer in divine grace, but I detested the mail because it intimidates me and God never threatens or intimidates His children. I realized that Jesus or Mother Mary didn’t mail me so I discarded this message. My passive approach to the juggernaut of future did make me feel powerful. I am glad that I am not swayed by common practices and that I choose to bear my individuality and judge every situation by my own wit rather than listening to others and following their views blindly.

Here is another one:

Even though, at these strenuous economical situations, we all need Mahalaxmi to bless us fiscally, I don’t wish an electronic message to convey my wishes to her. I am old fashioned in transmitting my wishes to God, and I trust a silent prayer more than this email. So, I did not forward the mail and dug a pothole in my fortune.

Finally, I would like to say that faith and belief are one's personal choices and I don’t intend to denigrate one’s personal believes, but if people read the junk mails before forwarding, I am sure we will be receiving them less often than we do now. Exploitation of believes have become a thriving industry in India, and I wish to see a newer India devoid of a pile of superstitions in her mind. Destiny can not be averted, misfortune and good fortune come in circles; and happiness and sorrow would come and go even if you send these mails or not. I believe in the inner goodness of humanity and I detest the art of trickery that these junk forward messages are using to sway the human mind. As a blogger and a writer, I would be happy and would consider my effort positive, if you abstain from sending the next forward mail you get in your inbox.



© Barnali Banerjee., all rights reserved.