Friday, January 15, 2010

Copy Cat Aamir?

This post is not a rant or a post in the true sense of the word. Its rather a verbal manifestation of my disappointment with the so called 'perfectionist' of our times. Especially after Lagaan, I thought Aamir Khan is one of those people who does sensible movies and is also a sticker for perfection. At the time of Rang De Basanti, the preacher in Aamir Khan showed its face when he said on NDTV, "You be the change, you be the politician, the youth should change the system... blah blah" I thought it was a lame way to market a film that was nothing but fantasy. I mean seriously, isn't it just a dream to be able to kill politicians at will? I guess he refused to come out of the I-will-change-the-system mode and its evident in 3-idiots.

Inspite of this, I loved Taare Zameen Par for its simplicity in portraying the mind of a young child and his battle with the much-criticized education system. But after doing a little research, I realise that perhaps none of what Aamir churns out of his kitty is original. Though, the character of Ishaan Awasthi was (shall we say) 'inspired' by Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes fame, I didn't think Aamir, the debutant director would actually lift scenes cut to cut from the classic comic strip.

The Maths test/quiz that Ishaan takes in the film is a straight lift. Take a look at this:

While, the one above is a direct lift, the two pieces below can be called 'inspirations' - one where Ishaan fights the shower in the bathroom (Calvin fights rain) and two where he just leaves school one day, and that followed by parents' meeting with teacher and principal:
And as I toyed with this idea of whether these scenes are really inspired from C&H strips or could they be a mere co-incidence, Dhananjay brought this book titled 'Thank You, Mr Falker' to my notice. Here's a synopsis of the story -

Quoting from the site:
"Patricia Polacco is now one of America's most loved children's book writers and illustrators, but once upon a time, she was a little girl named Trisha starting school. Trisha could paint and draw beautifully, but when she looked at words on a page, all she could see was jumble. Her classmates made matters worse by calling her 'dummy' and 'toad.' It took a very special teacher to recognize little Trisha's dyslexia: Mr. Falker, who encouraged her to overcome her reading disability. Patricia Polacco will never forget him, and neither will we."

I am thoroughly disappointed at what Aamir and Crew seem to be doing. This hurts me because I loved Taare Zameen Par and most of all, I am a big big fan of Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin & Hobbes. The copying streak seems to have continued with this year's so-called great film, 3 idiots.

And talking about 3 idiots, here are a few copied moments -

1) The 'why didn't they use pencils instead?' question by Rancho
2) When the three friends go searching for Rancho you see a man clicking snaps of burqa-clad women
3) When the prof refuses to accept their papers, Rancho mixes them with the rest

With not-so-stringent Plagiarism laws in our country, and with people raving about Aamir 'Perfectionist' Khan, I guess movies like 3 idiots will continue to enjoy the acclaim and awards. And the media will continue to call him a 'great.' I guess my friend said it right. "Aamir Khan uses the media as shoes."

It doesn't make for great screenplay when you just physically manifest old idioms like 'putting the toothpaste back in the tube' and copying internet jokes and forwards. The least he could have done is to give due credit to the source. I don't thing it would have taken away anything from his film. And since he hasn't , I guess Aamir should join the league of people who think 'we are born too late in the world to do anything original' and his movies (at least these two) should be listed here.

Update: Just found that the C & H 'inspirations' have been covered here and here


Blogger SSD said...

I had immediately identified Calvin & Hobbes. In fact, I was whispering so loudly that my friends told me to shut up.

4:19 AM  
Blogger ask said...

My 2 cents :
Thanks Surya ,that was insightful.
My view is that we all use the same alphabets , some arrange it to form words ,and a pattern of words come to be a sentence . All sentences have meanings , what cretaes a story however is how the sentences are arranged together . The package that Amir presented in TZP and 3 Idiots deserves recoginition for the work of the people involved including amir himself. Cinema is the medium that reaches the laity , many who cannot read the likes of C&H. So when you look at it from a braoder perspective , Amir does deserve a clap if not an applause :o)

8:18 AM  
Blogger Surya Ragunaathan said...

@ Saurabh - Hehe! I remember I had mentioned it too while watching it... but I came across this exact thing when I read Sunday Lazy Book yesterday..

@ ask - I know we all use the same alphabets but that's coz nobody owns them; no intellectual copyrights here. All I am saying is, Aamir did not give proper credit to Chetan Bhagat (Lets not kid ourselves, the movie IS indeed based on Five Point Someone) and perhaps he's done the same with Watterson and Patricia Polacco. Its not wrong to make 'inspired-from-somwhere' movies, but its wrong not to give due credit to your inspiration source. I know the movie reaches masses when Aamir makes it, all the more reason why he should credit the original, even if its very loosely based. Being an artist, he ought to respect others' creations and not call them his own.

5:31 PM  
Blogger sujit said...

i really dont give a shit if a story is copied/inspired.. what matters is wether the movie is worth watching and you very well know the answer ! Chetan Bhagat had signed a contract back in 2005 i guess with these guys... obviously he must be paid something.. now that the movie is a huge hit, he wants another piece of the cake.. so he better stop being a cry baby and shut the hell up !! Aamir Rocks!!

10:17 PM  
Blogger Surya Ragunaathan said...

@ Sujit - I know you care a shit about any kind of art anyways, sujit.. That's why art doesn't come to the likes of you... sorry for being rude here but what I mean is that if you had created anything original in life and somebody copies that and makes money outta it, you would know what that feels like. One of my articles was once copied on another site and I know what that felt like.
That's the difference between a Vishal Bharadwaj and Aamir Khan. Even though Shakespeare's dead for ages, Vishal always says that his movies are based on Shakespearen plays whereas Aamir calls it his own. That's the difference between a true artist and a dishonest one.
Btw, I don't think you have read the newspapers about WHAT exactly was mentioned in the contract between Chetan Bhagat n Aamir so obviously you have no idea what the controversy was. Atleast poora kahani jaan le uske baad comment kar.
Maybe THIS will help you and also read Chetan Bhagat's blog. Uake baad comment kar.

12:26 AM  
Blogger ask said...

Point taken :o)
I remember a saying in this regard "Imitation is the best form of flattery ".

2:01 AM  
Blogger Surya Ragunaathan said...

@ ask - hehe! Nice one... btw, I do love Lagaan... I think its one of the best in Hindi cinema... Am not totally anti-Aamir, lest I give that impression :))

4:20 AM  
Blogger Verbal Sketches said...

"The only original thing on this earth is the word 'original' " Every single artist has two talents as far as copying is concerned:
1. To recognize source of inspiration
2. To use it to suit his needs

So, it doesnt come as surprise that Aamir Khan has copied

The point is that He has not acknowledged the fact.

We, still and always will love Aamir Khan but if there's something objectively incorrect about him, it need be said and only few people like you say it.

I would'nt have known about TZP, had it not been for this post.

Keep posting such 'I-have-a check-on-you' articles

11:59 PM  
Blogger Surya Ragunaathan said...

@ Verbal sketches - LOL! Love your comment... thanks! Its not like 'am keeping a check' on anybody... And I also agree that its OK to get inspired but NOT OK to Not give credit to the source... I also don't completely dislike Aamir, but am not too impressed with him either :)

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Nilesh Shinde said...

Hey Surya, I agree that due credit should have been given to Bill Watterson & Patricia Polacco... sadly though, not many people would know about the acts being copied / being inspired from... giving due credit would certainly have not taken anything away from the movie, script, a brilliant performance by everyone... why not post your comments at: ;)

6:37 AM  
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