Thursday, April 26, 2007

Plagiarism and Adaptation

Last fortnight has been terribly busy with the unavoidable materialistic pursuits of life, which explains my absence from this space (though I've been managing to get my ‘movie’ and ‘music’ shots). The earlier mentioned ‘inner circle Woodstock’ has been written about by Mr Bojangles over here, so I shall talk about something else. Let me talk about ‘plagiarism and adaptation’ in art.

Mahesh Bhatt, the film director presented the movie ‘Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahin’ to the Indian audience in the year 1991 and turned me into an instant fan of the movie. My father reacted by saying that it’s a remake of Raj Kapoor & Nargis starrerChori Chori’ (1956) which in turn was a remake of Frank Capra’s ‘It Happened One Night’(1931). Since 1991, I’ve watched ‘Dil Hai…’ quiet a few times, enjoying it almost on all the occasions. ‘Chori Chori’ figures vaguely in memory as an enjoyable movie as I watched it as a kid. But, somehow, I never managed to watch the Capra’s classic (excepts for a few shots on certain film documentaries) until recently and that’s when I thought of writing this.

The movie ‘Dil Hai…’ is a frame by frame/dialogue by dialogue lift of the original classic by Capra…it’s just that the context has been made interestingly different with the trademark songs of the Hindi films. Personally I am not against this act of using a classic from one context and adapting it to another. It just makes a good work of art known to a larger and different audience. The sore point about Mr. Bhatt’s effort is that he did not to give due credits to the original. How can a genuine artiste deny acknowledging good work by another artiste? That too when he is using that ‘good work’ to make something of his own. Shakespeare has always been adapted from the likes of Kurosawa (Throne of Blood) to Vishal Bhardwaj (Maqbool) but these good men put a message upfront which says ‘Adapted from Macbeth by William Shakespeare’ and that’s all that it takes to fully appreciate the new effort. This message also draws the line between Plagiarism and Adaptation. ‘Dil Hai…’ is still a nice movie but I have very low respect for Mr Bhatt.

The fact that a movie made more than 75 years ago is still as fresh as yesterday is a story for another post.

My shots:
Contempt (1963, French): Jean Luc Godard’s brilliant adaptation of Alberto Moravia’s ‘Ghost at the Noon’ is a study on man-woman relationship (like most Moravia’s story) with stark/bright colors and a haunting score by Georges Delerue (this score was later used by Martin Scorsese in ‘Casino’)
Volver (2006, Spanish): This all women Oscar nominated movie by Pedro Almodovar has a great script and performance by the attractive Penelope Cruz playing a mother which makes her all the more attractive (speaking strictly for myself).
City of God (2002, Brazil): Thanks to Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s and UTV’s combined effort, I caught this cult classic at the theater and the DVD experience paled in comparison. This is for many more such classics in the theater as that’s the promise.
Pentangle: This one is a discovery (by a couple of music pals) and is currently the source of my happiness, almost every day. A beautifully melodious and lyrical band from the 60s got together 5 musicians (that’s why the name) from different genres like rock/jazz/folk to make some very very good music.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Manuscripts of snow

The last leaves fell like notes from a piano
And left their ovals echoing in the ear;
With gawky music stands, the winter forest
Looks like an empty orchestra, its lines
Ruled on these scattered manuscripts of snow.

- Derek Walcott, Selected poems

ps: I can't smudge the beauty of these words by adding anything from my end.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Keeping a promise

As a comment on my post on Majaaz's nazam, 'Awaargi', a good reader had requested me to to translate the song 'Dikhaayi Diye Yun' from the movie 'Bazaar'. It's actually a Ghazal written by Mir Taqi Mir(1723 - 1810), one of the greatest Urdu poets. Mir was one of the pioneers who gave shape to the Urdu language itself. 

I must accept that when began carrying out the request, with my little knowledge of Urdu, I faced a little difficulty and that perhaps explains the delay in coming out with this post (yeah yeah it took me 4 months to come out with this). I have made an attempt and now its for you readers to judge the result. The basic mood of the Ghazal is that of a spurned (and perhaps bitter) lover.

Diye Yoon Ke Bekhudh Kiya

Humein Aapse Bhi Judaa Kar Chale
My senses loses all on seeing you

To the extent that I end up losing you

Sajda Karte Hi Sarse Gayi

Haq-E-Bandigi Hum Ada Kar Chale
Prostrate I lay in front you

The only way I know to worship you

Parastish Kiya Tak Ke Aye But Tujhe
Nazar Mein Sabhon ki Khuda Kar Gaye
Worshipped you so hard O’ Stone
That people now take you for God

Bahut Arzoo Thi Gali Ki Tere
So Ya Se Lahoo Mein Naha Kar Chale
Paid the price of wanting to be in your life
By leaving it soaked in blood of emotions 

Khayyam's beautiful melody adds extreme sadness and beauty to these words. I hope that with the meanings becoming a little clearer now, you will be understand what I mean.Ghalib, another great who came a little after the times of Mir, had to say this for him.

kay tumhi ustaad nahi ho Ghalib

Kehtay hain aglay zamanay may koi Meer bhi thaa
You are not the only master of Urdu Ghalib
They say there used to be a Meer in the past

Enjoy the long weekend. I am sure am going to because it promises to be like an 'inner circle woodstock' (last paragraph).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Namak Isk ka

Consider this,

"Sara, Sara,
Sweet virgin angel, sweet love of my life,
Sara, Sara,
Radiant jewel, mystical wife." - Bob Dylan, Desire

And consider this,

"Gud Se Meetha Ishq Ishq
Imli Se Khatta Ishq Ishq."
(Love is Sweeter than Jaggery,
Tangier than Tamarind) - Anand Bakshi, Taal

The emotion called 'Love' in the language of poetry has always been associated with things sweet and tangy...things like Honey, Jaggery, Sugar, Tamarind etc. In fact, most of the words that I have mentioned are also used as pet-names by which people call their loved ones. The popular north Indian pet-name 'Guddu' comes from the word 'Gud' which means jaggery. In the western culture, Honey and Sugar are the names by which spouses address each other.

Now, read this,

"Jabaan Pe Laaga, Laaga Re
Namak Isk Ka
(My tongue got the salty taste of Love) - Gulzar, Omkara

It takes a Gulzar to turn to Love into something salty and hot as the situation in the movie demanded it. The song along with 'Beedi' (from the same Omkara) are two of the most cleverly and stylishly written sleazy songs ever from Hindi movies. Check out another line from the song:

Raat Bhar Chaana Chaana Re
Namak Isk ka
(Sieved it throughout the night,
This Salt of Love)

Last time he did something like this was when he turned a 'Mujra/Item' number into a classily written ode to a woman's beauty. Remember 'Kajraare'?