Post 21: I was blissful when I was ignorant!

I was watching an old hollywood movie on TV when I realized it looked very familiar. One old hindi movie was a copy of the one I was watching ( yeah I looked up in wikipedia- the hollywood movie predated the other by approx. ten years !! ūüė¶ ). No, not just the broad storyline…..the scenes, the characters and even the dialogues were copied!! I was disheartened because the hindi movie in question was among my favourites. The only original bits in that movie as compared to the hollywood original were few extra family members of the main actors and the song and dance routines.

You only have to do a quick google search to find out which hindi or let’s say Indian movies have been “inspired” by the hollywood (or world) movies and for a movie lover like me it is so disheartening.

While growing up my movie intake was mostly limited to ¬†hindi films barring a few malayalam and bengali movies that I watched with my parents. Movies defined an era for me. Movies like¬†Mother India and Hum hindustani defined the challenges and aspirations of my young nation. Chupke-chupke and Golmaal made me laugh again and again, , Madhumati and Mughal-e Azam spoke of everlasting love and Hum Apke Hain Kaun and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge made me sing and dance. Parallel and commercial movies defined the national mood of the 60’s and 70’s for me. I delightfully lapped up all the movies our local cable operator had to offer – be it B/w movies from the 40’s to movies of disco era. The songs and dance routines often provided not only a good pastime activity (antakshari – for those of you know it ¬†and charades!) it was also a relief in a tense situation and a way to escape out of tricky situations.

Any ways my knowledge of hollywood movies was limited before I moved to this part of the world. And then we subscribed to (new and old) hollywood movie channels ………and now I don’t think it was a good idea at all ! I have not only realized that some of the well loved movies were ‘inspired’ by their hollywood counterparts (some in part and some frame by frame), but memories of some of my favourite songs have been muddied. It is said ‘ignorance is bliss’ and blissful it was!

I might anger few of you out there by what I am going to say next . I am not totally opposed to feeling inspired by a story ¬†but I strongly feel you have to make it your own – you might call it ‘value-addition’ . I feel there are stories and emotions that are universal in nature, but there are people, methods and situations that are unique to a region. One good example ¬†that comes to mind was the hindi movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello …. it was a movie called Omkara. Though the storyline is the same, the characters are rooted in rural india. They were not just caricatures ¬†but were made very real and identifiable.

In our super-legalised culture, where any misstep is an opportunity for somebody to sue somebody else for money, we are forgetting the universality of human experience to some extent. The Holy Book says, “What has been will be again,¬†what has been done will be done again;¬†there is nothing new under the sun.”¬†Copyright infringement laws have scared so many of us into inaction. So many times, I feel like writing on a particular subject , but give up on it after a quick google search. Much has been written before and expressing a similar thought to someone may lead to accusation of plagiarism. Here is an interesting quote I came across:

I wake up from dreams and go, ‘Wow, put this down on paper.’ The whole thing is strange. You hear the words, everything is right there in front of your face. And you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry, I just didn’t write this. It’s there already.’ That’s why I hate to take credit for the songs I’ve written. I feel that somewhere, someplace, it’s been done and I’m just a courier bringing it into the world. I really believe that. I love what I do. I’m happy at what I do. It’s escapism.
“Michael Jackson – Life in the magical kingdom” – Rolling Stone (February 17, 1983)

Coming from a Musical superstar, those are weighted words. The Song writer said in the book of Psalms:

As they make music they will sing,¬†‚ÄúAll my fountains are in you.‚ÄĚ

I realize that even after my due-diligence & crediting my (known) sources, there is a chance that someone somewhere else is either thinking or has already thought of something like this . Like fingerprints and DNA  that are unique despite millions of other similarities I share with others, through my life experiences some creative endeavours  could be called mine.

Finally, even though those scenes and movies were not 100% original, my experience of them- the tears that welled up in my eyes or the laughs I shared with friends were really genuine.

Phir Milenge!!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Create

My friend Linda recently started working as a full time make-up artist. I am borrowing one of the images from her website.

I think what she is doing is so cool. Being able to create different looks to suit different occasions. We can create not only a different look but the attitude to go with it.

If you have watched any old hindi movie, you would know that one of the recurring themes is that of twins separated at a young age and re-united when they grow up. My favourite twin-act is by Actress named Sridevi in the movie chalbaaz. One twin is shy and docile and the other fierce and outgoing. Goes without saying make-up was cleverly used to create two different looks.

the two sisters come face to face for the first time near the very end of the movie.

I have had fun with this week’s theme. For more inspiring entries click here.

Phir Milenge!!

Bollywood and Big Fat Indian Wedding

“So did you have an arranged marriage?”

“Did you speak to your husband before you got married?”

“Did he come riding on a horse/elephant for the wedding? ”

Yes, Yes and No.

I am from India and Mine was an arranged marriage.  And Once we both agreed to getting married, our families met and decided the date, venue and other arrangements (no headache of planning or becoming a bridezilla). After seven years I can say it worked out pretty well for us.

My wedding was not¬† a Bollywood production. Given that majority of population in India ( or of Indians anywhere) is of Hindu religion and What is seen on the silver screen is a grand Hindu wedding, it is easy to understand why these questions would come my way. But mine was a simple church wedding. He didn’t come riding a horse, no large wedding procession, no dancers dancing in a synchronized way and the wedding ceremonies did not last one whole week.

I would not be wrong in saying that I love bollywood movies. I am among the ones who watch atleast one bollywood movie every week. It is like a comfort food to me and it is something that still gives me a glimpse (however rosy!)in¬† to my Indian culture. As a culture, Our love for colors, large¬† family gatherings, food and celebration is epitomized in a marriage ceremony and movie makers get that. Thanks to the movies, The tradition of sangeet (Song and dance at bride’s house), mehandi (or application of henna have moved out of the religious domain and into weddings of all religions.

In south of India, it is customary for christian brides to wear a Saree- the traditional Indian garment albeit in white instead of red. The jewellery is in keeping with the traditional style.

This is from another wedding in my family. A few years ago, this would not have been a common sight – A christian bride with henna on her hands.

This is one thing that Bollywood has achieved¬† cannot be paralleled by any socio-political discourse especially when it comes to weddings. Bollywood has succeeded in addressing the culture of the land without its religious connotations….. I think it has become a unifying factor for a land often divided on issues of religion and languages.

I guess that is a great gift of Bollywood movies.

oh and if you are interested in seeing one Bollywood movie with a big fat Indian wedding with all the bells and whistles, I would recommend Hum Aapke hain kaun

Phir Milenge!!