In The Sacred Wood, T.S. Eliot had said, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” Bollywood seems to have been not only inspired by Eliot’s words but also has now matured when it comes to the art of stealing.
The Deepika Padukone’s new Levi’s advertisement is in a major plagiarism row after Little Zizou director Sooni Taraporewala accused the brand of plagiarising her set from the film, Yeh Ballet.
Sooni took to her social media handle to share her angst and thoughts on the matter. “I was shocked to see our Yeh Ballet dance studio set in this ad, because it was conceptualised & created out of a derelict space by Shailaja Sharma (our PD) from scratch and dismantled after our shoot. No such dance studio exists in Mumbai which is why we built it. Basically, @nadiaeye (the director of this ad) saw Yeh Ballet and decided to plagiarize our set down to the very last detail (swipe for screenshot). Would Levi’s and the director ever think of doing that in the west without permission/ acknowledgment, and passing it off as their own creative work? This is not homage this is intellectual theft! It’s SO unfair to our wonderful production designer @shalzoid to have her work ripped off like that (sic).”
She also stated that the copycat culture in India needs to be called out and cancelled. “You would think a foreign production company and director would know better. Are you so creatively bankrupt? What were you thinking? PS. contrary to what clickbait news headlines say, this has nothing to do with Deepika Padukone or anyone else in the cast (sic),” she added.
Rupin Suchak, who is the production designer for the ad, also agreed to have been ‘inspired’ by the dance studio while developing the set of the new Levi’s ad.
Old habits die hard
Film historian Imtiaz Baghdadi points out how earlier filmmakers used to call a copy as homage to another filmmaker or creator. “Even Gulzar’s 1982-film Angoor was a copy of the 1968-Bollywood musical Do Dooni Chaar. While Bollywood would shamelessly copy music and film scripts tune by tune and shot by shot earlier, the globalisation of Bollywood and now the social media has ensured that such IPR thefts are caught rather easily. People need to pay up if they are using someone else’s idea,” he states matter-of-factly.
When the song Nashe si chadh gayi from the 2016-film Befikre, starring Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor, became the first Hindi movie song to cross 300 million views on YouTube, it suddenly came under the radar of music lovers around the world. Many compared the song, which was composed by Vishal Shekhar and produced by Michael Mcleary, to Junjou romantica, a song from an animated Japanese series. However, Vishal dismissed the similarities as an ‘uncanny coincidence’, even while admitting, “There is no doubt that the first lines of both the songs are the same.”
Copycats called out
Krazzy 4 | Music director Ram Sampath was awarded a handsome sum by the court after they found out that one of his compositions for a mobile company was shamelessly lifted in Rakesh Roshan’s 2008-production, Krazzy 4. Roshan Sr had to cough up the amount after the court ruled in the composer’s favour. It is, however, another story that the script of the film by Jaideep Sen was very similar to the 1989 Hollywood comedy The Dream Team, top-lining actor Michael Keaton as one of the four sanatorium patients on an adventure in New York City.
Prada | Alia Bhatt was trolled mercilessly by Pakistani actress Mehwish Hayat and others after the release of the 2019-pop hit music video, Prada, by The Doorbeen. Listeners can note that the melody of Prada is the same as that of a number from the ’90s, called Gore rang ka zamana by a Pakistani band, ‘Vital Signs’.
Judgemental Hai Kya | A European artist accused the makers of Judgemental Hai Kya of plagiarism. Flora Borsi, a photographer and artist based in Hungary, shared one of the posters of the film and took to both Twitter and Facebook to point out the stark similarities with one of her works.
Mahesh Bhatt | Several films creatively backed by Mahesh Bhatt have been clear remakes. Among these are films such as the 1958-Hollywood blockbuster Houseboat, which was remade as the 1993-Bollywood hit Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke. The 1996-Sally Fields thriller Eye for an Eye was remade as the 1998-Bollywood film Dushman, the 1991-thriller Body Heat became the 2003-thriller Jism, the 1934-romance–drama It Happened One Night became the 1991-drama Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin, the 1981 film An American Werewolf in London became the 1992-horror film Junoon and the 1976-Robert De Niro-flick Taxi Driver reincarnated as the 1991-film, Sadak.
Anu Malik | The composer and singer has possibly around twenty-seven copied songs in his repertoire. Some of them that could reflect guilt were ironically called Dil ne churaya kyun and Neend churayee meri besides other hits such as Ek shararat hone ko hai, Agar tum mil jao, Bheege hont tere and Kaho na kaho....