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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

the copy cat culture

There is a beautiful reality show on the small screen in one of the Hindi channels where the common man is made the butt of joke. The central character is a Sardarji who keeps getting into problem situations and who seeks the help of the common man on the road or at the bus stop or in a shop to pull him out of trouble. For example, the time when he ‘discovers’ that his feet are stuck to the ground. He finds it impossible to lift his feet. Passers by try to give him a helping had but his feet will just not budge. If, by chance, he is able to move one of his feet, it again sticks to the new location when he puts his foot down!! Such episodes are hilarious, generate quite a lot of fun and have the audience in splits. The complete show is a clone of a similar program that once upon a time used to run on an English channel. And – the crowning glory is that it has been adopted by a couple of language channels as well.

Similar is the case with Hindi films.

There is any number of films that have been ‘inspired’ by foreign films. In this connection, there used to be some popular TV serials where the audience would be treated to visuals of both the versions, side by side. The presenter of the show, with his inimitable tongue-in-cheek humour, would draw the attention of the viewers to the specific cases so that you could not miss the similarities – they were so prominent. Film makers never acknowledge these and shrug them off citing them as coincident. Obviously, due credits are never given where it is due.

When we venture into the territory of songs, the similarities of tunes between an English one and its Hindi clone are too pronounced for comfort. Some haunting melodies of the 60s and the 70s stage a come back in our Hindi filmdom and, subsequently, move on to the language films.
The recent release of a repackaged block buster of the 50s and its immediate acceptance by the cine-goers is conclusive proof of the fact that those who deal in the finer forms of arts are starved of ideas. New story lines are absent and the song and dance (SAD) sequences necessary to support a weak storyline appear to be repetitions. Actors have become stereotyped, the dialogue writers have run out of quotable quotes and every ation seems to be predictable. With the fairer sex willing to plunge into murky waters and producers available by the dozens to finance one-off ventures, the final offerings of Bollywood fail to create any impression on the discerning public. Securing nominations for prestigious overseas awards does not guarantee an extraordinary movie.

Of course, we have to thank our lucky stars that the Copy Cat Culture has not yet encroached into the territory of children (like ‘Baby’s day out’, ‘Home alone’, ‘Monkey trouble’ and ‘101 Dalmatians’) or into real action packed films (like ‘Speed’, ‘First blood’ and ‘The Rock’). I leave it to your imagination to visualize desi versions of such films.

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