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The Bollywood copycats

Hundreds of films are being made in Bollywood year after year. Of these, many do not even manage to see the light of the day. Statistics say that the total number of Hindi films produced and released in theatres increased to 177 in 2004 from 143 in 2003 translating into a y-o-y increase of 24%! If we talk of the Indian film industry then the figures are much higher. Each year there are about 800 films being made, which includes mainly Hindi, Tamil and Telugu cinema.

Well, Tamil and Telugu films have a niche audience, which is mainly in the south. Thus, we would rather talk about the much-hyped Bollywood which has made its presence felt all over the world. No, it is not that we are trying to under estimate the south Indian films, but their reference will surely come during the course of the write-up.

Bollywood is one of the best known brands of India and the films produced here are screened in more than 100 countries and watched by nearly four billion people worldwide. Bollywood films have everything in them that one can ask for in the name of pure entertainment. Whether it is a tender love story or and intense drama, or rib-tickling comedy, or cold-blooded thriller, you want it and you will find it here.

So by now, you must have been praising the writer or the people behind such masala. But before you could go ahead and do so, let us tell you that all those film who you want to praise are actually not the outcome of Bollywood. Many of our films have been copied or inspired by the films made in other foreign countries, especially Hollywood. The word Bollywood itself is an adaptation of Hollywood (Bombay + Hollywood = Bollywood). Not just Hollywood, but many super-hit south Indian films have also inspired many Bollywood film makers.

But please do not think that this phenomenon is an occurrence of the recent past. In the past too, in fact, right from the 1980's this phenomenon is prevalent in Bollywood. Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Jitendra starrer film The Burning Train was a remake of the original Japnese film Shinkansen Daibakuha (1975). After that there were many films which went ahead and copied the film to different extent. Some copied the plots, some the plots and concept, some remade those films while there are others like Baadshah (mix remake of Nick Of Time, The Mask, Rush Hour, Mr. Nice Guy), Kaante (remake of Reservoir Dogs), The Killer (plot and story of Collateral) are a few names among the many which can be in a way called scene to scene copy of the originals.

If we speak ethically and legally, it might not be right for a filmmaker to copy the original film. It is not that all these films have not attained the rights, but wherever is has not been done, it is a serious matter. Renowned film critic Taran Adarsh cannot disagree. "I feel it is not a bad idea to remake the Hollywood films. It gives a good variety to the people as they are not aware of the story. But legally and ethically it is not right to copy someone's idea".

Justifying the remakes Taran Adarsh adds, "I do not think that the remakes are badly made. I think that they are justified". But if we go be the trend then not many remakes have worked too well apart form a few like Murder (copy of Unfaithful (2002)), Hum Tum( copied from When Harry Met Sally.. (1989)) Dhoom (The Fast and the Furious (2001)Ocean's Eleven (2001)), Krrish (Paycheck (2003)) and others.

One question that is still left unanswered is whether these remakes show negatively on the creativity of Indian filmmakers. Taran put it in other words for us, "Jab paki pakiye roti mil rahi ho toh kyu koi apne ghar mein rotiyaan pakayege?"(When you are already getting things readymade then why put an effort?) We did understand what you said Taran and we do hope that this effortless film making does not rust the 'creative' minds because one day the Hollywood stock will also finish.

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