Hollywood films have been the inspiration for many of the Hindi film industry's biggest hits.
Right from cult classics like 'Baazi' (1951) to 'Sholay' (1975) and 'Baazigar' (1993) - and even 'Ghajini' (2008) - all have some western movie as the stimulus. The Hollywood influence is evident in some of the forthcoming biggies like 'Paa', 'Action Replay', 'Agyaat' and 'Pyaar Impossible'.
Guru Dutt's debut 'Baazi' was inspired by the Rita Hayworth starrer 'Gilda' (1946), while 'Sholay' is widely called an 'Indian curry Western film', with inspiration from seven Hollywood films including - 'Once Upon A Time In The West' (1968), 'Spaghetti Westerns', 'The Wild Bunch' (1969), 'Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid' (1973) and 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' (1969).
'Baazigar' and 'Ghajini' are said to be Indianised versions of 'A Kiss Before Dying' (1991) 'Memento' (2000) respectively.
'Paa' supposedly draws its plot from the 1996 comedy-drama 'Jack', about a boy who ages faster than normal due to a disease, while Akshay Kumar-starrer 'Action Replay' is an alleged take-off on the reverse-ageing drama 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'.
Promos of Ram Gopal Varma's horror thriller 'Agyaat' suggest sequences from sci-fi horror 'Predator' (1987). 'Pyaar Impossible' is apparently sketched around reality TV series 'Beauty and the Geek' and 1999s 'Notting Hill' - on a relationship between a film actress and her fan.
Film critic Omar Qureshi says it is due to the lack of writers that filmmakers are visiting Hollywood movies for inspiration.
'The biggest motivation for making a successful movie is that it brings money and appreciation. So filmmakers go for a tried and tested formula by taking inspiration from Hollywood. Otherwise there are only a very few talented writers who've come out with original content... it's actually not about writers,' film critic Omar Qureshi told IANS.
Hollywood has been an influence even in the 1940s.
Mehboob Khan's 1940 movie 'Aurat' that he remade 17 years later into 'Mother India' was inspired from Hollywood flick 'The Good Earth' (1937).
'There has been a constant borrowing of ideas between the two industries. Take for example 'The Magnificent Seven' (1960) that was inspired from Akira Kurosawa's 'Seven Samurai' (1954) that went on to inspire 'Sholay'. Even 'The Parent Trap' (1998) has a plot similar to that of 'Do Kaliyan' (1968),' Qureshi said.
US-based Indian origin Hollywood filmmaker Nagendra Karri said: 'It's the lack of scripts and proper writers that is making Indian filmmakers copy Hollywood. In fact that is one of the reasons Kamal Haasan used to get his scripts written by French writers and then adapt them to make classics,' Karri told IANS during a recent trip to India.
'Even if you are adapting or copying, at least give credits to the original, so that they don't feel cheated or offended.'
Film historian S.M.M. Ausaja says that though there is no dearth of good content here, filmmakers don't prefer to invest time in searching for good stories for their movies.
'There is no dearth of content here. It's only a question of shortcut that the filmmakers take because they want a ready script. We've always been inspired from the west... Lifting has been here since the 1940s.
'There are only a few Indian directors who've made authentic films like Ashutosh Gowariker who meticulously gives time to his scripts,' he added.
Superstar Shah Rukh Khan's hits like 'Baazigar', 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai', 'Josh', 'Mohabattein', 'Main Hoon Na' and 'Chak De India' have based their stories respectively around films like 'A Kiss Before Dying', 'Sleepless in Seattle' (1993), 'West Side Story', 'Dead Poet's Society' (1989), 'Never Been Kissed' (1999) and 'Mighty Ducks'.
Ram Gopal Varma, known for making films on the underworld, also took inspiration from 'The Godfather' (1972) to make 'Sarkar'.
Qureshi says things have changed now as Hollywood filmmakers are keeping a close tab to ensure that Indian filmmakers don't lift ideas without taking permission.
'Earlier filmmakers were doing it blindly, but now with Hollywood keeping an eye on us they are doing it with their consent.'
Recently, film banners like B.R. Films, Mirchi Movies and David Dhawan have faced the flak for lifting movies like 'My Cousin Vinny' (1992), 'Harry Potter' title and 'Hitch' (2005) respectively for desi versions of forthcoming 'Banda Yeh Bindaas Hai' and 2008 dud 'Hari Puttar' and 'Partner' (2007).