Posted: 24 February 2005 at 12:43pm | IP Logged
WASHINGTON: Growing up in Lahore in a family steeped in Bollywood – and its poor cousin Lollywood – Haydur Agha resolutely resisted the subcontinent's celluloid lure in his teenage years.
ANALYSE THIS: Original or Copy?
Black: Miracle Worker
Munnabhai MBBS: Patch Adams
When he arrived in New York in 2001 to study, he found his newly-made South Asian friends in the city equally in thrall of the mush from Mumbai.
"Why would you want to watch something that has been plagiarised?" he would ask them, as they soaked up the latest Hindi movies on DVDs and videos. They even had a few fights over whether to watch a Bollywood or Hollywood movie.
Last week, having taken a year off from school, Agha, a computer jock, decided to do something about it. He strung together a website, www.bollycat.com that catalogs Bollywood films that have been plagiarised or 'inspired' by Hollywood flicks.
Agha's site lists more than 100 movies, starting with the critically acclaimed Black to the celebrated Shree 420 , which he says are knock-offs from foreign movies. "They may not be exact copies, but it's very obvious where the stories come from," Agha said in an interview. "If they are just inspirations, they can at least acknowledge it in the credits."
In Bollycat 's book, Black emerged from a 1962 Oscar-winning classic called The Miracle Worker and Shree 420 's inspiration is Citizen Kane .
Some of the knock-offs are far more brazen.
In the last couple of years alone, Murder took a stab at Unfaithful , Aitraz revealed the story of Disclosure , and Munnabhai MBBS was within a heartbeat of Patch Adams . Hollywood films that have been milked include Fatal Attraction (Jurm) and Analyze This (Hum Kise se Kum Nahin).
Agha acknowledges his idea is inspired by the author Barbara Taylor Bradford's lawsuit against India's Sahara TV drama Karishma for allegedly stealing the storyline from one of her novels. Within hours of his website going up, people have been bringing to his notice many unknown instances of knock-offs.
His being from Pakistan has little to do with his dislike for Bollywood, Agha said in a separate e-mail sent later. His roommate from New Delhi is equally against it and refuses to watch even critically acclaimed films he (Agha) brings sometime.
In time, he hopes to evolve Bollycats into a broader catalog, perhaps adding a directory of filched songs, and maybe even a Hollycat.com some day.
Although there have been stray articles about Bollywood's penchant for plagiarism, Agha feels there has been no effort to put sustained pressure on Bollywood or hold it up to a higher ideal so that it can attain a global standard.
"When they start making original movies, I will stop adding films and shut down the site," he says.