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.


POOJA NAIR said...

Giving your own rendition to an existing piece of art also qualify as art.

However an atist must not fail to acknowledge his source of inspiration especially when it is another artists work.

A true artist can never be satisfied with plagiarism.

Hemisha said...

hmmm thats sad that ppl resort to such things. but look at it in a way that the masses of india wouldnt even know of an english movie like that. so its made for the masses. but of course 1 must aknowledge or some thing.

squeek sqeek

nikhil said...

'the' pentangle :D

meraj said...

Having criticised him badly, i cant deny the glory of mr Bhatts original creativity in movies like Arth, Saraansh and Zakham.

Hemisha said...

hey meraj bhai aage bhi to likho yaar to much time se kuch likha nahi hai missing it.
thus complaineth the mouse

Anonymous said...

could be the overdose of trash at work but wasnt Dil hai ke maanta nahi also similar to "Roman Holiday". Considering the later was made in the 50s it could be a copy of "It happened one night" too...

...but then what can you expect from Mr Mahesh "I will scratch my self as much as I can" Butt?

Alien said...

I just wanted to mention Roman Holiday(1953)myself. Considering it was closer to 1956(Chori Chori), maybe RH was the real inspiration for Bollywood.
Moreover, if you see Gregory Peck in RH, it wouldn't be difficult for you to guess where did DevAnand got his styling from.