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Bollywood moving away from plagiarism?

July 3, 2008

We all love to bash Bollywood because the industry is in the habit of plagiarizing. In fact the very name ‘Bollywood’ is so insulting that I wonder why those who work in Bollywood don’t feel ashamed that they are working in an industry with a name that implies that it is a Hollywood clone. Could it be that they don’t feel ashamed because there is hope that they might win awards? Recently the music from the film Munnabhai Lage Raho won a national award even though one of the tunes was plagiarized.

Movie posterBut Bollywood wasn’t always Bollywood. If you trace the history of the industry we have had great films – some of them classics. I am naming just a few here. Mehboob Khan’s Andaz (1945), K. Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (1955). In the seventies there were popular films like Sholay (Ramesh Sippy, 1975) and films like Anand and Kati Patang. There was no such thing as “Bollywood” then, not as far as I remember.

It all changed in the eighties. We started hearing of various tunes being lifted and also movies. By the nineties stealing had become rampant but even now I like to believe that less than half of the films and music are plagiarized, but that’s just a guess.

How long is this going to go on? I mean, why isn’t Hollywood complaining? Why aren’t they suing? Well, even though Hollywood isn’t suing, I think the copycats producers and directors are getting flak…from bloggers. Today if a film or song is stolen, bloggers write about it and the directors and producers are shamed, well to some extent at least. If they win awards for their copied films, I guess the shame is replaced by chuckles!

But this kind of copying cannot last. It’s not going to last. I feel the Hindi film industry has reached a kind of peak (of copying) and with bloggers increasingly exposing these charlatans, movie producers are thinking of ways to avoid criticism and scandals.

I think a change is in the offing. Recently, director Rajkumar Gupta “struggled” to get the rights of American pop singer Peggy Lee’s song for his film Aamir. They finally paid Rs.800,000, a sum they could barely afford as it was a low-budget film (with a budget of Rs. 20 million). And even then they were not allowed to use the song in their soundtrack. In fact Gupta was so keen to avoid any kind of scandal that when he was told that Aamir had some similarity with the Filipino film Cavite, he contacted the Filipino director and told him the problem and actually asked him whether he should “proceed” with Aamir or “scrap it”!

It’s not just Gupta. Producer-director Ravi Chopra bought the rights of the Joe Pesci film My Cousin Vinny and remade it as Bandaa Yeh Bindaas Hai. And believe it or not, even David Dhawan has had a change of heart. He was criticized for plagiarizing the film Hitch and re-making it as Partner (there were even rumours that Will Smith was going to sue) but Dhawan seems to have decided not to take any more chances. He is getting permission to remake the Hollywood film The Wedding Crashers.

Imtiaz Ali of Jab We Met fame also tried to get the rights for “rock band Katrina & The Waves Walking on Sunshine.” In fact he had gone ahead and used the song for the promos but when the permission did not come through, he dropped the song.

It’s not just their name that producers are worried about. Recently Rakesh Roshan had to pay Rs 2 crore to the music composer Ram Sampath who had filed a case against him for copying a tune in his film Krazzy 4. If Hollywood ever sues and succeeds, the copycats could become bankrupt!

I think the incidents mentioned show some new trends in the Indian film industry. It’s about time this happened because we have so many talented directors and a good number of original films coming out of the Hindi industry today that it would be a shame if a few copycats spoilt their good name.

Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par (2007) is just an example. Two more examples are the charming romantic film Parineeta (2005) and Lagaan (2001) which was nominated in the foreign film category of the Oscars. There are also the “new wave” films like Traffic Signal or Life in a Metro, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer and Khosla Ka Ghosla. It all seemed to start when the critically acclaimed Monsoon Wedding (2001, Mira Nair) was a decent hit at the box office, raking up $20m. These small budget films are changing the face of the industry and Aamir is the latest one.

The success of such films has given rise to hope that talent is getting recognized. Hopefully the Indian government will realise that originality and talent needs to be encouraged. They should stop giving any type of award to any film which has plagiarized any thing, be it the story, a scene or two or a song. It may seem a harsh punishment for a director or producer who may not be in the know if a music director has say copied a tune, but without such rules how will plagiarism ever stop?

Related Reading: The different audiences of Bollywood and Hollywood
The top 6 movies of 2007
Hollywood and Bollywood do have a meeting point!
Will Hollywood films make more money that Bollywood films in India?
Bollywood paycheques continue to grow

67 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2008 8:16 am

    I agree… we have seen some very unique and great movies in recent times.

    But then, for every great movie that we see, there are movies that are blatantly copied from known/unknown movies. Old habits will take their time in dying out 😉

    (PS: I think you misspelld lage raho munnabhai, which i might add was an amazing movie. The first munnabhai was even better!)

    I re-checked the spelling and it seems okay to me. And I agree, the movie was great and the first one even better!! – Nita.

  2. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    July 3, 2008 8:27 am


    I take very strong exception to your placing Satyajit Ray’s “Pather Panchali” in the Bollywood bogs. Ray represents a level of civilisation and culture unknown and unheard of in Bollywood.

    Pather Panchali does fall into another class, but it’s likely that if I had not mentioned it someone in the comments might have! But no, that is not the reason I mentioned it. I think it’s a great film and deserves mention, particularly for international audiences who know little about Indian cinema. I would have liked to mention some south indian films too but unfortunately as I do not follow the language and we don’t get them dubbed in English, I know little about the south indian film industry- Nita.

  3. Ravi permalink
    July 3, 2008 9:01 am

    Oops Nita

    It was “Hitch” plagiarized into “partner”.

    Made the correction. Thanks – Nita.

  4. vivek mittal permalink
    July 3, 2008 9:24 am

    At any given day, bollywood is the best India can produce..simply because it attract best of talent from all over India…the best of directors and composers from south film industry today work in bollywood….but actors from south doesn’t fit into bollywood 🙂

    Yes, the term “bollywood” is new , but many of the big personalities from bollywood like Amitabh Bachchan hate this term..

    Of late there has been many incidences of copying in bollywood…and i think the reason is no strict action against the culprits..also i’m not sure that hollywood too is entirely free of copying

    Also we should not forget that bollywood is an entirely different way of film making where the background score and songs form an important part of the film unlike hollywood…so i dont agree that in order to become “better” we should stop having songs in the movies……but yes, the songs should be integrated in the film, rather than something interrupting the pace of the movie….Without songs we cant imagine a movie like “Dil to pagal Hai”…this brand of of Yash Chopra/Karan Johar/Sooraj Barjatya movies is the USP of bollywood which Hollywood can NEVER provide

    To me the creativity in music of.. Naushad, Shankar jaikishan, SD Berman, RD Berman and even nadeem shravan, Uttam Singh and AR Rehman is unparalled…In film making Raj kapoor, Hrishikesh Mukherjii,Subhash Ghai, Yash Chopra, Shekhar Kapoor, K Asif,Vijay Anand, Manoj Kumar are among the best in the world

    So, for few cheaters like Abbas Mustan, AnuMalik, and some others we can’t blame entire film industry…
    Naturally, in every society/group/country, there would be all kind of people

    Vivek, I never said to become better we need to stop musicals. Musicals are wonderful and entertaining and I love them. If that is the impression given in the article, it’s my mistake. I have just named some good films and they are good not because of the lack of songs, but because of good direction. TZP is a musical by the way and so is Parineeta and I have named those too. So please do not miscontrue. – Nita.

  5. Sakhi permalink
    July 3, 2008 9:42 am

    Plagiarism is rampant but soooooooo easy! and thats why it is rampant..;)

    in India where population so much how come we dont have enough talent to come out with originals… wedo have talent but some where we are going wrong!

    Love the gen next movies like monsson wedding, life in metro, tare zameen par and the likes… 🙂

    Sakhi, the reason we don’t have enough good people is because merit is not valued enough. There are umpteen instances in all fields in India where merit is discounted and “pull” is used. This is so in the creative field too. I remember there was a time when we used to copy ads from abroad and the indian ad industry had become a laughing stock of the world ad industry. But people like Piyush Pandey changed all that. He wanted global recognition and he knew the only to get it was to produce original ads. He always did, but he ensured that it happened in his agency too. He hired people on merit. He ensured that a creative person who produced good stuff got credit for it. He and others like him have worked hard to change the face of the Indian ad industry and today we have a huge number of international ad awards. The cheaters are far fewer than the originals and therefore today the Indian ad industry has a global face. – Nita.

  6. Ravi permalink
    July 3, 2008 10:08 am

    I dont like this very idea of naming indian film industry as bollywood cause it gives an impression that “we only copy stuff from hollywood” in fact they are. People in bollywood trying to show india and indians as someone else. Some producers say that bollywood is going international but the reality is we are far from international standards. Our music is old, cinematography is very ordinary and actors arent that great we never had actors like alpacino, robert deniero, russell crowe…And the bad thing we do is we appreciate(praise) our movies no matter how poor they are…that was really funny. Movies based entirely on love stories and sociodramas are family entertainers to a particular audience. In order to become big and famous an artist/technician must posses some creativity.

    Im glad that many indian movies are world premiered these days which puts an end to plagiarism. To compete in international market bollywood needs to produce movies with great quality which comes from good visual effect supervisors. They come from various prestigious universities in US and do we have at least one university which can research to develop various art forms? Nope.

    Our costume designers copy from current fashion trends in paris/milan/NY. It is easy to copy but If they do how could our films look different from hollywood.

    If this continues our movies would never be appreciated world wide. By the way the worldwide collections of our movies doesnt reflect the popularity of them among various communities it is our own indians who watch em though.

    I too don’t like the word “Bollywood” as I feel we deserve better. Sure, we have a long way to go but some of our films are as good as the hollywood ones. Well, I can relate to them better as they talk about our reality, rather than theirs. Have you seen khosla ka ghosla or traffic signal? If you haven’t try them. they may not be “arty” but they are good entertaining cinema with a social message. And the only way to get there on the global stage is to have our own uniqueness, like you said. – Nita.

  7. Ravi permalink
    July 3, 2008 10:10 am

    Vivek M said..
    this brand of of Yash Chopra/Karan Johar/Sooraj Barjatya movies is the USP of bollywood which Hollywood can NEVER provide.

    Why would hollywood produce low budget movies when they access to worldclass technolgy…lol

  8. Ravi permalink
    July 3, 2008 10:12 am

    I always like to watch off beat low budget hindi moives which are far from mainstream bollywood movies like bheja fry, tare zammen par, Life in metro….

    bheja fry is a copy of a french film that’s why I never mention it! Scene for scene copy. – Nita.

  9. July 3, 2008 10:17 am

    how about the reality shows? all are remakes of the ones in the US.
    The latest Panchvi Pass se Thez was copied from “Are you smarter than a 5th grader”.. Now this will start on Star world from this month.

    It’s sad isn’t it! Everyone wants a tried and tested formula, they are too lazy to take a risk! I am sure many serials are copied too. What surprises me is that no one sues. I know that one tv serial (it had karishma kapoor in the lead and which flopped) was sued by the author of the story which was used but I think the author lost as it could not be proved. I think that must be the reason they are not suing. Our courts are not fast enough and it’s a big hassle for them and they might lose. See, I am not suing Hindustan Times because they stole my photo though I can easily prove it!! – Nita.

  10. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    July 3, 2008 10:20 am


    The only point I was making was that Ray is not “Bollywood” [period]. And that applies not only to Pather Panchali but to his entire opus, including the solitary Hindi Shatranj ke Khiladi.

    And after reading your response to my comment, I get this uncomfortable feeling that you are equating the entire Indian cinema with Bollywood (i.e. cheap, popular, third-rate). You may or may not be aware that long before the term “Bollywood” came into use, famous banners such as New Theatres (Kolkata), Prabhat (Pune), Bombay Talkies and several others produced simultaneous two or three language versions of their classics (usually in the “Madrasi” languages (i.e. Bangla, Marathi, Tamizh etc.) of their respective regions and also in Hindi as simultaneous remakes (not dubbed or subtitled). In almost all of these cases, the awards, when they were won, went to the “Madrasi” versions, but modern film historians wrongly attribute them to the Hindi version (e.g. Prabhat’s “Kunku” in Marathi, simultaneously remade in Hindi as “Duniya na Maane”).

    As for modern classics such as ‘Astitva’ not many people seem to know (not even “hamereku Hindi chalengaa” Ghatis) that it was conceived, scripted and produced in Marathi (in which language it won awards) and simultaneously made in Hindi (for which version it is generally mentioned in most accounts), and later, separately in English.

    And you DO get “South Indian” films — both the good ones and the bad ones — dubbed in English. You just have to search in the right places.

    Vivek, I have an idea about this, about great films being re-made in Hindi. Easwar comes to mind, which was a remake of a tamil film. However my knowledge is nowhere as deep as yours and thank your for this information. however today bollywood has become equated with Indian cinema whether anyone likes it or not. – Nita.

  11. vivek mittal permalink
    July 3, 2008 10:38 am

    “Shatranj ke khiladi”, is bollywood simply because it’s a Hindi movie…another term used for bollywood is “Hindi film Industry”..which is original term….
    though i personally dont have any issues with calling Hindi film industry as “bollywood”

  12. Chaitu permalink
    July 3, 2008 10:41 am

    Plagiarism has always been a part of Bollywood. It’s even worse in the south indian movie industry. It is neither because of blogging nor shame of being exposed that producers are avoiding copying. After Shakti Kapoor’s casting couch scandal, shame sounds like the last thing anyone would be bothered about. One main reason for the change in producers attitude is that corporate companies are focusing on film productions. Corporate companies want to make money. When a movie owned by them in one language is already been made in another about a decade ago, it’s an opportunity lost to make money. The only opportunity to make money is by suing. When big money is involved, corporate companies tend to have an aggresive attitude.

    A possible reason why bollywood doesn’t get sued by hollywood is because of the time and expense involved. Also, not many might be aware of the legal procedures as they are different in different countries.

    You have raised a very valid point, thank you! – Nita.

  13. July 3, 2008 10:57 am

    Bollywood is a volume market. Mass production is what is happens ,and a self congratulatory approach as awards are concerned.

    Krazzy 4 is “adapted” from a Malayalam movie which in fact inspired from a Hollywood flick. Almost all of Priyadarshan’s Bollywood offerings are Malayalam movies made by himself or some other directors.

    Suggest reading this article on PFC for some interesting comments on Bollywood made by Adoor Gopalakrishnan

    A very interesting article Nikhil, thanks. However to me cinema is entertainment though I appreciate movies which can combine social messages and put them forward in a creative format so that the film is entertaining as well. Whether it’s painting or a poem I have never appreciated the “arty” kind of stuff. I like it straight and direct. I am a very down to earth person and in fact even in the English literature I have read I have enjoyed the classics which are gripping to read. where films are concerned, for eg. Lage Raho has a social message though the medium of entertainment and I think it is a brilliant film (well, the first Munnabhai was brilliant). But then not everyone is capable of making an entertaining film with a social message. – Nita.

  14. July 3, 2008 10:59 am

    Nita, I did not know that Lage Raho Mnna Bhai had a copied song!

    True, we used to have original movies before and why can’t we have them again. Another thing Nita, remake of movie is not bad thing. Movies are meant for communication, so if a foreign film is remade, it is fine because idea is to lap the story in the new region. But we must take rights! If we stopped remaking and lapping up what is good, there will be dearth in entertainment industry everywhere. Especially in India, where soap ideas (Jassi) and reality shows are also copied (inspired if rights are taken) from US media.

    As for use of BOllywood, seems like a section of film industry has accepted it. Remeber in KK’s TPTM, Rani changes Hollywood sign to Bollywood in LA.

    I agree re-makes are not a bad thing, as long as it’s acknowledged and rights are taken. However I think in India we have a huge fertile ground for ideas due to our complex society, societal problems, different cultures and these have not been exploited fully. And I remember that scene from TPTM. I was rather taken aback! – Nita.

  15. vivek mittal permalink
    July 3, 2008 11:42 am

    Nita, no your article doesn’t give impression that songs are not required in movies…i was talking about the general perception of people that to make Indian cinema global, songs should be scrapped from the movies..

    I would say, in India we have a different way of film making..and there are many great Indian movies eg Umrao Jan (old), Pakeezah etc (which were based on the background of Lucknow)…which just could not be made without a special genre of music called “Mujra”…

  16. July 3, 2008 11:58 am

    I wont go into the discussion of whether Bollywood is right term or not and what movies to include in it.
    But the idea//They should stop giving any type of award to any film which has plagiarized any thing, be it the story, a scene or two or a song.// is not enough to stop plagiarism. There are so many awards nowadays that the word itself has lost its meaning. And sometimes i feel its all fixed.
    As for the themes of the “Yash Chopra/Karan Johar/Sooraj Barjatya” brand , I dont want to even talk about it. Plagiarism and failure of low budget but good original movies at the box office are all results of demand and supply. Its just like people are paying to Ekta Kapoor’s absurd soaps which by the way have the same storyline with the sequence of events just different. Indian movie goers and the real source of income are still the masses not the classes. And they dont care if its plagiarized or not.

    ofcourse you are right Reema, it isn’t enough to stop plagiarism. However I feel it will help. and you are right that many of the awards are “fixed,” so much so that they have lost their meaning. I think however that now the “masses” have subtly changed to middle class people like us and therefore these low budget films are doing well. For eg khosla ka ghosla. as the educated indian middle class grows, we will have more of such films because they will make money. I love these films as they manage to package realism, drama and a social message all in one. – Nita.

  17. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    July 3, 2008 12:00 pm

    //…today bollywood has become equated with Indian cinema whether anyone likes it or not…//

    Simply not true. Anyone who looks at cinema as something more serious than just the cheapest form of entertainment will not agree.

    I guess I am in that category then. I am not a “serious” cinema watcher and something tells me that most people are like that and that is why I said what I said. For me often cinema is entertainment mostly, though I don’t like “cheap” films which I think of as semi-porn. Well, that is my idea of a cheap film. I watch cinema for entertainment and if it combines entertainment with education, I like it even better! Ofcoure everyone’s ideas of entertainment varies but I am afraid I am not an intellectual where cinema is concerned. I prefer to tickle my gray cells through reading. But I also enjoy the light reading, I and have enjoyed thrillers and mystery novels thoroughly. They are entertainment for me. – Nita.

    p.s. to me an “Art” film which is not entertaining is pretentious and I cannot sit through five minutes of it. That’s how I am. To me Cinema has to be entertaining. And frankly I don’t see a film as good or bad according to where it comes from. I can enjoy a good entertaining film, whoever makes it.

  18. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    July 3, 2008 12:07 pm

    //…international audiences who know little about Indian cinema…//

    The international audiences who do watch our films are generally more informed about “Indian cinema” than our own people are.

    I disagree completely with this statement. In fact even the Indian film watchers amongst foreginers are more familiar with bollywood. I hope this will change and they will also realise that there is also other cinema in India besides bollywood – Nita.

  19. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    July 3, 2008 12:21 pm

    Nikhil Narayanan:

    Thank you for that link to a very thought-provoking interview with Adoor. But I am afraid you are wasting your sweetness on the desert air. By the standards of “Bollywood=India” Adoor is “pradeshik” and “Madrasi”, and so is the Guwahati-based cine journal from which it is taken. And this post is exclusively about Bollywood. Adoor and his thoughts have a place in it only if you unconditionally concede the clubbing of Malayalam (and Art) films with Bollywood shit.

  20. July 3, 2008 12:42 pm

    Nita, what can I say about plagiarism in Bollywood, we all know how bad it is. It’s too complicated to discuss in one post, and you guys are doing a great job of it already 🙂

    Yes, I agree with many here that “Bollywood” or Hindi language films hardly represent the entire India. Which is why it bothers me when people refer to IIFA or Filmfare Awards as “India’s Oscars” and what not. Puh-lease.

    Only the National Award has the stature of being called a pan-India award. Unfortunately it is being slow-poisoned by either bureaucracy or politics or sheer incompetence or lack of interest or all of the above. 😦

    About plagiarism: There are two problems here. One, we don’t always know if the producers/music directors have bought the rights to the original or not. Only now, with the internet age and rapid communication, people are talking about it and Bollywood is being forced to come clean.

    It will do the film industry a whole load of good if they are upfront about their “inspirations”. I don’t think people would mind then, don’t you think?

    Second, stories can be similar. After all, human experiences can be similar in different countries. So not all qualify as plagiarism. For instance, when I first heard of Hitch and saw the rushes, I was reminded of Sapnay (Hindi), which was a remake of Minsaara Kanavu (Tamizh).
    And then, we had Parnter. Ha 😀 Ha 😀

    And speaking of remakes in India, for those of you who swear by Darr and Shah Rukh Khan’s Kiran-calls, check out an older film called Shart (1984) and watch Naseeruddin Shah do a Kiran-passion scene. Phew!
    Yes, some of us wait patiently for the originals — like Teen Deewarein, TZP, Johnny Gaddar, etc etc.

    The flip side: I think a lot of originals find a new audience in India after they have been copied. Copies do have the effect of making originals popular. I would never have heard of the Arabic originals of Ya Ali (Gangster) or Kaho na Kaho (Murder) or even the old Bengali original of Na Jaane Koi (Ganster), if these copies hadn’t been made.

    Curious, na?

    (P.S. Hope I have got the film names right. I’m sure some expert on this discussion thread will point out if I’m wrong 😉

    Thanks SS. Yes I agree whole-heartedly. We need to dispel the myth that bollywood cinema is indian cinema because that is the impression people have. Specially abroad. Bollywood has become equated with Indian cinema, even in India. I wish good south indian films were released in mainstream cinemas with english subtitles. I for one cannot stand television and cannot watch movies on DVD either. cannot sit through them! 🙂 Actually that is why I mentione Pather Pachali, because I wanted to people to know that Indian cinema is not just Bollywood. But that has been misunderstood. The national award is a pan india award but it’s become politicized. And Snigdha, if they buy the rights, it has to be said in the titles. The acknowledgemetn has to be given. If they don’t, it’s plagiarized. And yes you are right, it’s not easy to prove plagiarism but some directors make it easier by copying actual scenes! – Nita.

  21. Chaitu permalink
    July 3, 2008 1:01 pm

    Yes. Bollywood is not indian cinema. There is more to indian cinema. But in the united states, except for telugu and tamil movies, rest of indian cinema is non-existent. One cannot find any other movies except for hindi, telugu and tamil movies. Unfortunately, this is something that may not change for quite some time.

    P.S: Though not related I’d like your comments on this article –

  22. July 3, 2008 2:29 pm

    There are directors and then there are DIRECTORS
    i agree with Vivek K to an extent , for some it is a passion for others its a money making business, for some it is both

    But i do agree people like david dhavan and likes are no directors – they are no different than tvr prasad -formula movie mkg machines .

    I guess I share your opinion about DD. I have no regard for his directorial capability. – Nita.

  23. July 3, 2008 5:24 pm

    hmm…nice to know that the copy cats are able to see the world above and below them properly 🙂

  24. July 3, 2008 5:34 pm

    // In fact even the Indian film watchers amongst foreginers are more familiar with bollywood. //

    That is what the shady characters who produce bollywood crap would like to believe.

    Please take a look at atleast one country where they know to differentiate between cheap crap and something much better:

    Here is a quote from the third article:

    As a Japan-loving outsider, I know that much of what makes the culture so distinctive and successful arises from its tradition of self-enclosure (which allows everyone to know where he or she stands in relation to everyone else). Yet the coming century, I think, is not going to be tolerant of such divisions. Insofar as zany Tamil movies from south India are mass-consumed as a national cure for Japan’s prolonged economic depression.

  25. vivek mittal permalink
    July 3, 2008 6:17 pm

    and i thought what Japanies like is not necessarily liked by rest of the world

    btw Bollywood is hugely popular in Japan too like in rest of the world…following is the article for Japan times by Mr Shashi Tharoor, where he explains power of bollywood and how it’s gaining popularity across the globe and not just in Japan

    following is nother one

  26. vivek mittal permalink
    July 3, 2008 6:46 pm

    Just google “plagiarism in hollywood”

    one of the article says
    “There is an old adage that says you haven’t arrived in Hollywood until you’ve been sued for plagiarism”

    of course copycats exist in all major film industries..who want to make money on tried/tested formulas which they copy..and popular film industries (unlike regional cinema of india) are very much exposed and are always under scrutiny

    But, these film industries produce excellent original movies too, as never there is a dearth of telent

  27. wishtobeanon permalink
    July 3, 2008 7:18 pm

    Nice post 🙂

  28. wishtobeanon permalink
    July 3, 2008 7:20 pm

    Some Indian movies are available at the local library here like “Water”, “Earth” etc.

  29. July 3, 2008 7:39 pm

    Bollywood is the term for the REGIONAL cinema of the Hindi states that is made in “Bambaee”, some of which are produced by underworld dons and terrorists whose financial dealings never come under scrutiny. But bollywood does NOT represent even the Hindi states! Bhojpuri films are making strong inroads into some markets in one region that were dominated by bollywood till now.

  30. July 3, 2008 7:44 pm

    I just got to see a promo.. of God Tussi great ho, it has both my favorite stars AB and Salman khan..I saw the promo and all I could think of was..couldn’t they even change the color of the suit AB wears?.. I mean they have lifted the whole thing from Bruce Almighty..I hate when that happens

  31. vish permalink
    July 3, 2008 8:54 pm

    “i thought what Japanies like is not necessarily liked by rest of the world”

    not really VM!

  32. Manoj permalink
    July 3, 2008 8:59 pm

    I agree with few of the comments here that regional languages do produce some of the finest works! But Yes, Bollywood is bigger and enjoys a higher reach!

    Plagiarism seem to be omni-present. Even Hollywood is not spared of. It should be measured in terms of relative scores 🙂 But yes, our cinema (Bollywood or Regional) is doomed with major plagiarism when compared to others. Our Socio-economic conditions are quite different from any other nations and thus we cannot compare our Cinema with Hollywood. How can you expect Bollywood to experiment when it is not unanimously accepted in its own country? There are people in this blog itself, who vehemently deny its dominance. Marathi cinema, Bhojpuri Cinema, Tamil Cinema, Telugu Cinema…..”Unity in Diversity” true sense!

    There were times when Anu Malik was accused, and very recently Pritam was accused of blatantly lifting tunes for Jab We Met and Kismet Konnection. But yes, we have finally removed the veil and started showing our mature side. There is still a long way to go! It’s good that few of them even dared to think beyond. We have wonderful actors all capable of enacting World class cinema. But it’s a pity that they are not exploited.

    There is an other problem too. In our cinema, heroines are often treated as bimbos dancing infront of the camera. She loses her “market” if she gets married. As long as this notion does not go, don’t expect Indian cinema to go places. We have great actresses like Kajol and Madhuri and many more down South who are as ravishing as they used to be before they were married.

  33. July 3, 2008 9:42 pm

    This may seem like a shameless plug for my website, but considering we’re discussing plagiarism, the contents of ItwoFS would – I’m sure – be of enormous interest to this posts’ readers!

    The chronicles of plagiarism in Indian film music –

  34. July 3, 2008 10:24 pm

    minor technicality: but i was just saying that you wrote the title as ‘munnabhai lage raho” instead of “lage raho munnabhai”

  35. July 3, 2008 10:48 pm

    We are always looking towards the west for inspiration. A few handful of directors try to be different but that’s not enough to bring in huge changes.
    I recently saw the promos of Love Story 2050 and its heavily inspired from Star wars, A.I. and Back to the Future.

  36. Ravi permalink
    July 3, 2008 10:57 pm


    The usage of the term Bollywood is just cheap. Is it really that difficult to choose a word that suits hindi cinema etymologically? Where are all these so called Hindi poets?

    I thought Bheja fry is original cause the script and dialogues are so Hindi.. 🙂 I havent heard of khosla ka ghosla but I saw Traffic Signal in bits and pieces …the movie is depressing and the length of the movie is more than two hours..not my thing..sorry! I think the world likes to watch movies that are short, simple, brief and MUST have good quality but bollywood movies barely has national standards of film making 🙂 and is still producing movies which run far almost 3.5 hours 🙂 I wonder do people have to time to sit that long…

    Im an ardent fan of AR Rehman, usually I go to see his movies only to listen to his songs and back ground score cause his mixing is unique and he has his own style. Because he owns the India’s best recording studio in madras might be a reason for his quality. But I didnt dare to watch Jodha-Akbar cause its length is some 4 hours..PHHEEWWW.

  37. Ravi permalink
    July 3, 2008 11:04 pm

    The promos of love story 2050 reminds me of a cartoono film 🙂 I thought it would be embarrassing to premier that movie in london 🙂 and it was. I saw the clippings of that premier show and I can only see brown people at the show besides a couple of white body guards. I was surprised and I was like .. ” is this video shot in London or Bombay”.. 🙂

    Only brown people watch bollywood …. people here may like it or not but face it..its the fact 🙂

  38. Ravi permalink
    July 3, 2008 11:08 pm

    Recently I saw this ad of BIGFLIX on TV. I was like OMG! Is it really that difficult to name a DVD rental store.

  39. July 3, 2008 11:46 pm

    Hi Nita,
    U have mentioned Taare Zameen Par (2007),Parineeta (2005) and Lagaan (2001), Life in Metro,Traffic Signal ,Mr. and Mrs. Iyer and Khosla Ka Ghosla.

    I would add Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chata Hein 2 the list.
    It was Brilliant & fresh.

    + Rang De Basanti

    + Socha Na Tha (Dir: Imtiaz Ali).


  40. snippetsnscribbles permalink
    July 4, 2008 12:53 am

    Very well-written post!!

    I did not know that Lage Raho movie had a copied song until I read it here !

    I live in the US and here, when you say you are from India they ask us about ‘Bollywood’ and questions related to why it is called like that and the like (followed by a laugh!). It leaves us with us a sour feeling about having done something really stupid as that along with the fact of having to accept that we indeed ‘copied’ the name. Like what has happened/is happening is not enough, It is a disturbing fact that other film industries have gone ahead and named themselves – the Kannada film industry is called ‘Sandalwood’ (!!!); the Telugu film industry is called ‘Tollywood’ and the Tamil film industry is called ‘Kollywood’. Apart from the reason that Karnataka was once-upon-a-time famous for sandalwood trees and hence the industry is called Sandalwood, I have no idea why the others are called whatever they’re called and I can bet no one else does too !!

    Sometime ago, a friend of mine sent me an email fwd that listed Hindi songs copied from their English originals. It was painful for me to see some of my all-time favorite songs in the list. I always thought they were originals and was appreciative of the work. Sad !!

  41. July 4, 2008 7:02 am

    well this new breed of directors and producers are few and far between unless and until the film industry has most of the people being innovative and doing something original, we won’t be given international recoginition coz the common perception is that we are copy-cats, a cariacature of Hollywood

  42. July 4, 2008 7:40 am

    Chaitu, yes ofcourse Indian cinema is not just Bollywood and I wish more people realised it.

    wishtobeanon, Vishesh, thanks.

    Manoj, yes Bollywood has a higher reach due to the fact that the language is understood by many. There is absolutely no doubt today that Bollywood is dominant in India, and I do not see the point of denying it. However, I think we should do something about it. I for one would love to see good movies which are made in other languages and if they are dubbed in English (and Hindi in the north) I think more people would see them. I don’t know why only blockbuster English movies are released nationwide (at times a world premiere!) with subtitiles and not movies in different Indian languages. Where plagiarism is concerned I think things will slowly impove, but people need to expose the cheaters. And I agree that for world class cinema we need more women centric roles.

    Karthik, thanks. 🙂

    Amreekdesi, yeah now I got it!

    Ravi, everyone has different tastes in movies but I think you will like Khosla ka ghosla.

    Rahul, thanks for that list. 🙂

    snippetsnscribbles, thanks. I’ve heard of this tollywood and kollywood and I don’t like those names. Anyway, once a name is given it’s difficult for it to go away. And it is very painful to realise that some of one’s favourite songs are plagiarized! The problem is that these people are not exposed enough and it’s only we who feel the pain, not they!

    Rahul, we are a long way off from international recognition for the very same reason you pointed out.

  43. Ravi permalink
    July 4, 2008 7:45 am

    Oh I forgot to mention BIGFLIX reminds me of NETFLIX, an DVD rental store in US

  44. Ravi permalink
    July 4, 2008 7:57 am

    Love story 2050 is released with 10 prints in selected cities (appx 6) in Andhra Pradesh. Whereas this hollywood blockbuster “The Incredible Hulk” is released all over Andhra Pradesh(english n telugu versions) with more than 200 prints. I dont know why but somehow bollywood fails to reach south. Im glad that jodha-akbar was released in telugu. But here we got a problem..most of the bollywood movies which went on to become block busters were inspired(copied) from other languages so bollywood needs novelty to get more viewers 🙂

    Well, if bollywood fails to reach the south I guess no one is really complaining! 🙂 In any case, Bollywood doesn’t need a shot in the arm to become more dominant than it already is! 🙂 – Nita.

  45. Ravi permalink
    July 4, 2008 8:03 am


    I would watch Dil chahta hein and Rang De Basanti any number of times. Both these movies has screenplay, good background score, very good songs, stunning visuals..I can go on like this and it would be never

  46. Ravi permalink
    July 4, 2008 8:11 am


    You have made a good point. The promos of “God Tussi great ho” reminds me of “Bruce almighty”. Its really sad to see some immatured director make a fool out of a good actor like AB, salman looks stupid though 🙂 as he

    Did u see that ground breakin scene when salman lands on earth? EEWWW The visual effects are pathetic and are no match to the original movie. The quality of the scenes are bad nd It reminds me of a socio fantasy TV serial in star plus. I wish good actors like AB would turn down those kind of roles in future to save their reputation. I bet AB have seen this movie “Bruce almighty” or at least heard of it.

  47. Yamini permalink
    July 4, 2008 12:35 pm

    You might think in the “good, old, golden” days of Hindi cinema – I mean, 50s, 60s, and 70s – music was not plagiarised. But you should see this site and you will be shocked at the amount of copying our Hindi music directors resort to:

  48. Captain Sharks permalink
    July 4, 2008 2:11 pm

    the kind of movies bollywood is producing today is totally crap….every week 2-3 hindi movies are releasing n i don know with what sense and hope directors/producers r showing such foolishness,i mean how can dey hope their movies will hit d boxoffice…..moreover if u talk about plagiarism,den today bollywud music directors r copying from everywhere dey cud get,many hit songs from emran hashmi n mahesh bhatt s movies r copied ones (like ya ali from gangster-orignal one is sumthing ya ghali,n d recent one pehli nazar mein from atif aslam is actually a korean song,sum other songs from gangster,murder were copied from arab countries)

    and one more thing-to say bollywood movies r not comparable to hollywood bcoz of money factor is simply n excuse for our losing habbit….

  49. July 4, 2008 7:50 pm

    I think Hrishikesh Mukherjee would have received an Oscar if the West could understand the fine humor & even finer nuances, which were embedded in his wonderfully simple films.

    West ->Woody Allen & India-> Hrishikesh mukherjee?…. May be in some ways.


    Well, I am a fan of Hrishida! – Nita

  50. July 5, 2008 9:11 am

    I hope this sad state of affairs stops soon… It’s high time someone actually sues a filmmaker here, just to set a precedence!

  51. Manoj permalink
    July 6, 2008 9:18 am

    Nita, it is seriously true that, for Indian cinema to go places, women should be portrayed in a better way. The reason is QUITE simple. As we are discussing Hollywood too, letz take US as an example. Women do not face discrimination in US. Men and Women in US enjoy the same kind of dignity in real life. So, if Indian Cinema portrays women cheaply how many US citizens would like watching it? Because women being treating inferior is quite unreal for people in US. Same is the case with any developed/civilized nation. As Amit, in one of his posts mentioned, I sometimes wonder if we are even a “developing” country 😦

    Manoj, yes that is one reason why westerners will not be able to related to our movies. Indian women do not get good roles in the movies and are often just sex objects. But movies and cinema reflect life and in India even educated women from well-to-do families face discrimination. I do agree that movies should bring about change, and I do believe that some directors are doing that job, but a few only. We need major social change Manoj, and the movie will follow. Ad we need men to participate in this change. I have noticed that men tend to readily blame women for discrimination against women (I am not saying that women are not party to it) but as long as men leave it to the women to change things, it will not happen. We need the men to change too…- Nita.

  52. July 6, 2008 10:11 pm

    @ Ravi : sorry for missing ur comment. Same with me, can watch ‘Dil Chata Hein’ over n over again 🙂 .It was magic.

  53. Prasenjit Sinha permalink
    July 7, 2008 1:34 am


    Will be surprised to know that the Concept of “Multi Personality Disorder” from “Bhool Bhulaiya” is a clear theft from the movie “Primal Fear” starring Richard Gere…so is krazzy4 & a host of other Bollywood Hits.

    This goes on to state that in order to make a movie meaningful & impactful…one needs to have the vision, creativity & a thought process…”Bollywood” has none

  54. July 7, 2008 9:24 am

    There always have been originals, but I dont think plagiarism has reduced. For every Taare Zameen Par, you have tons of lifted movies made by Abbas Mastan, Sanjay Gupta, David Dhawan types. Earlier, the directors would lift from well known hollywood movies – they would get caught easily. Now, they are exposed to world cinema and steal intelligently (For ex: Sanjay Gupta’s “Zinda” was lifted almost frame-to-frame from the shockingly brilliant Korean film “Oldboy”) But, may be Indian movies breaking into different parts of the world due to the diaspora, plagiarism might reduce in future, because there would be more of a chance of getting caught.

  55. July 7, 2008 1:49 pm

    We have become more sophisticated in stealing. Earlier, we used to lift from popular english songs. Now, music directors like Pritam get “inspired” from multiple sources. Here is a collection of Pritam’s lifted songs (though I envy this guy for listening to music from so many different countries)
    Dhoom song DHoom Macchale copy of Jesse Cook’s ‘Mario takes a walk’

    Race Song Pehli Nazar copy of Chinese Kim Hyung Song Sarang Hae Yo

    Race Song Zara Zara Touch Me copy of Lee-Hom Wang’s ‘Zhu Lin Shen Chu’

    Jab we met’s ‘Yeh ishq kya’ copy of Anggun’s Être Une Femme

    Jab We Met Aao milo chale copy Indonesian band, Peterpan’s ‘Di Belakangku’

    Woh Lamhe ‘Kya mujhe pyaar hai’copy of Indonesian Band ‘Tak bisakah’

    Bhool Bulaiya Halla Hafiz copy of Amr Diab’s Awedony

    Dhol Dil Liya copy of Dania Khatib’s 1999 hit, ‘Leiley’

    Life in a Metro song Baatein kuch ankahee copy of Korean song, ‘Ah Reum Dah Oon Sa Ram’ by Seo Yu Seok!

    Bhool Bhulaiyya Hare ram hare ram copy of Bill Hailey’s Oriental Rock

    Life in a Metro song O Meri jaan copy of Queensryche’s Silent Lucidity and Amr Diab’s Ba’ed el Layali
    Original 1:
    Original 2:

    Pyar ke side effects song Jaane kya copy of ‘Mahi’ by Hadiqa Kiyani

    Woh Lamhe song Chal Chale copy of a 1965 track called ‘A World of our own’ by the band, The Seekers

    Dhoom Song DHOOM AGAIN copy of a song called ‘Dudu’ from Tarkan
    Portions edited appropriately

    Speed song Tikki Tikki copy of Turkish pop superstar Tarkan’s 2003 hit, ‘Dudu’

    Agnipankh song Janmabhoomi & Zindagi hai copy of Abrar-ul-haq’s ‘December
    COPY 1:
    COPY 2:

    Bhagam Bhag songs Signal & Afreen copy of Trinidadian Soca hit, ‘Signal for Lara’ by Superblue & Cheb Mami’s 2001 track, ‘Viens Habibi’
    Original 1:
    Original 2:
    COPY 1:
    COPY 2:

    Life in a Metro In dino copy of Waqar Ali’s ‘Mera naam hai mohobbat’

    Raqueeb songs ‘Jaane kaise’ copy of Amr Diab’s 2003 track, ‘Allem albi’ and song ‘Channa ve channa’ copy of Pashto singer Rahim Shah.
    Original 1:
    Original 2:
    Copy 1:

    Kya Love Story Hai Song ‘Miss you everyday’ Lift of Lebanese singer Karina’s 2006 chartbuster ‘Alatoul’
    ‘Jab se tum mile ho’ is a lift from Pakistani singer Hadiqa Kiyani’s 1996 number (album: Raaz), ‘Jab se tum milay ho’!
    Original 1:
    Original 2:

    Kya Love Story Hain song ‘Deewana teri aankhon ka’ copy of Black Eyed Peas’ ‘Bebot’

    Kya Love Story Hai song Gum sum hai dil mera copy of Thai song, ‘Oh la nor…my love’ by Bird Thungchai.

    Ankahee song Aa paas aa copy of Ottmar Liebert’s ‘Starry nite (March of Kings)

    Apna sapna money money song Dil mein baji guitar copy of song, ‘Sheloha shela’ by the Middle Eastern group, Miami Band

    Woh Lamhe song ‘Tu Jo nahi’ copy of ‘Tu Jo Nahi SB John

    Bas ek Pal song ‘Hai ishq’ copy of Yuri Mrakadi’s ‘Arabiyon Ana’

    Pyaar Ke Side Effects song ‘Is this love’ copy of Paul Anka’s 1969 track ‘A-mi-manera’

    Ankahee Title song copy of Boney M’s 1984 track, ‘Somewhere in the world’

    Song ‘Ya ali’ copy of Arabic band Guitara’s ‘Ya ghaly’

    SOng ‘Lamha lamha’ lifted form Waris Baig’s 1998 track, ‘Kal shab dekha maine ‘

    Song ‘Bheegi bheegi’ lift from Mohiner Ghoraguli’s Bangla jibhonmuki gaan

    Song Tu hi meri shab hai copy of ‘Sacral Nirvana’ by Oliver Shanti & Friends

    Ek Hasina Thi
    Song Akhiyaan Na Maar copy of Pakistani singer Waris Baig’s 2004 track, ‘Challa’

    Song Jal Jal Ke copy of Yuri Mrakadi’s 2001 track, ‘Arabiyon Ana’

    Fight Club Song Chorein ki Batein copy of Pakistani singer Ali Zafar’s ‘Channo ki aankhen’

    Ek Khiladi Ek Hasina song ‘Jhoom’ Lifted from Britney Spears’ commercial for Pepsi, ‘Joy of Pepsi’

    Garam Masala
    Songs ‘Dil samundar’ copy of Turkish singer Tarkan’s ‘Kuzu kuzu’

    Song ‘Chori Chori’ copy of Balwinder Safri’s ‘Hai rabba’
    Original 1:
    Original 2:

    Song’Ada’ copy of song Amr Diab’s Ana

    Dhoom song Shikdum copy of Tarkan’s ‘Sikidim’

    Song ‘Zahreeli raatein’ copy of Jal’s ‘Aadat’

    Song ‘Bheega bheega sa’ copy of Abrar-ul-Haq’s ‘December’

    Song ‘Halka halka sa’ copy of ‘Breeze from Saintes Maries’
    Original: k.rm

    Thanks for the list Vasuki! – Nita.

  56. Zephyr permalink
    July 7, 2008 10:39 pm

    Just an opinion…

    I’m not a writer-director-actor.. I’m not connected to the fillum industry in any way… I’m just a layman who loves to watch movies. When I go to see a movie, I want to be entertained by it. I don’t care if it’s copied from some hollywood movie. I LOVE “Sholay”… I don’t care that it is mainly inspired and partially copied from “Seven Samurais” and “The Magnificent Seven”… I LOVED “Rang De Basanti”.. I didn’t care that it was inspired/copied from “Jésus de Montréal”… I hated “Bheja Fry” not because it was copied from “Le Dîner de cons”, but because I found it to be consistently unfunny… So my point is, as an ordinary viewer we shouldn’t talk about how unethical and immoral Bollywood’s plagiarism record is… Instead talk about the quality of the movies made… Even after having a readymade and decently engrossing “Hitch”, David Dhawan fails to make “Partner” even marginally funny.. Now that makes me more sad…. So as viewers the quality of the movie is should be of more relevance to us than its source.

    As far as all the purists are concerned, they can very well take a hike, while I sit down to watch “Ugly Aur pagli” next month (which is again copied, this time from a Korean film “My Sassy Girl”…But I don’t care as long as it is entertaining)

  57. July 8, 2008 4:09 am

    I don’t care that it is mainly inspired and partially copied from “Seven Samurais” and “The Magnificent Seven”

    Whether you care or not is a different issue than someone not giving credit to the original source and instead, claiming it as her/his own. There are some rules in the world of art (books, songs, films) where if your work is inspired or copied/adopted from another source, the least you can do is acknowledge that source.

  58. Zephyr permalink
    July 8, 2008 9:11 pm

    @ Amit

    I get your point, man… But do you get mine? What difference is it going to make to you even if the producer/director/writer acknowledges that his work is in fact inspired/copied from someone else’s? This matter is solely between those parties.. We as viewers have nothing to do with it… We are concerned only with the quality of the final product… I thought “partner” was copied from “hitch” and so I went into the theatre paying my hard-earned money and expecting to find some decent entertainment (I have a soft spot for the team of David Dhawan and Govinda, don’t ask why..LOL).. And I was cringing in my seat with every passing moment. Now if David Dhawan had acknowledged that his movie is indeed a re-make of “Hitch”, would that have eased my pain? NO…I would still have suffered the same agonies… Even if the producers start acknowledging the original source, we people would still be cribbing about how “Unoriginal” Bollywood is as it simply buys the rights of hit western movies and rehashes them …. That’s why I feel that us talking about plagiarism is quite naive and vain… If people are really that much hell-bent on originality, maybe they should start writing such screenplays and trying to sell them to the producers.. If their “ORIGINAL” and “CREATIVE” screenplays are rejected by our producers, THEN they may talk about how Bollywood simply rips off the Western flicks and doesn’t give chance to the original stories… but till then, this is all just empty talk…


  59. July 8, 2008 9:46 pm


    What difference is it going to make to you even if the producer/director/writer acknowledges that his work is in fact inspired/copied from someone else’s?

    It’s called integrity and honesty, and holding film-makers to a set of standards which are de rigueur in the industry elsewhere, and make sense. With increased globalization, it’s best for BW if it starts changing its habits voluntarily, else litigation will make it do the same involuntarily, as Karan Johar found out.

    Also, I like to speak my mind. 🙂

  60. Zephyr permalink
    July 9, 2008 7:58 am

    @ Amit

    Speak your mind all you want, brother… I have never stopped you and I never will… However you still do not get my point… Let Karan Johar be sued… Let Rakesh Roshan learn the hard way.. May even Pritam meet his match one day…. it’s their problem…. My question still remains : “What difference does it make to you as a viewer?”


  61. July 9, 2008 9:07 am


    I like to watch movies that are original. That’s where it makes a difference.

  62. July 9, 2008 9:09 am

    And it’s quite obvious that we have different perspective on this issue.

  63. Zephyr permalink
    July 9, 2008 5:08 pm

    @ Amit

    LOL.. Yup.. We do have completely different perspectives…. You enjoy original movies… I enjoy good movies… period…


    @ Nita

    Just wanted to thank you… I’m aware that this is just a comment section and not exactly a discussion forum… So am sorry for those long comments…. Thanks for letting me express my opinion here… Adios…

  64. nehru mantri permalink
    July 10, 2008 6:23 am

    Sholay is not an original. It is a copy from various westerns the theme and Gabbar’s character emanating from the “Magnificent seven”.

  65. nehru mantri permalink
    July 10, 2008 7:30 am

    I see others have already made the point on Sholay I was referring to in my previous post. Anyway well written on a very oft repeated topic which simply doesnt register with our poor masses and hence everyone is dragged down the pit of mediocrity, ennobling low self esteem.

  66. Nitin Mahajan permalink
    July 10, 2008 10:01 am

    I would rather have the Bollywood guys plagiarise,than do any original stuff.The “original”stuff that they churn out is so poor and of such low standards,it is strictly meant for the lowest common denominator.
    This is not a new problem for the Indian film industry.It has been around for ages.And the rubbish that has been generated over the last 20 years has been of such low quality that it has lowered everyones standards.So even if a half decent movie like “Tareen Zameen Par” or “Lagaan” comes across we go all crazy over it and think its going to win Oscars.
    “Original thought” needs to be cultivated within cultures.It is not a gift that Americans inherited.They strive real hard to be original.Unfortunately,for us,we are still rooted in”I will have what he’s having” routine and thats at the bottom of this.

  67. July 18, 2008 8:52 pm

    Bollywood doesnt have people with brains working for dont expect this to happen soon…
    For all the gyan on plagiarism in bollywood visit

    This site has a compreensive list of music,scenes and poster plagiarism happening in bollywood

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