Friday, March 31, 2006

Plagiarism and Malayalam Cinema

The other day I was watching Hitchcock's "Vertigo", and somewhere in the middle it started striking me that I have seen these scenes before. Where was it?. Towards the end it became very clear where it was, "Mannar Mathai Speaking"!!. Till now, I thought that Priyadarshan was the only director who maintains a very good collection of English movies. Now Sidiq-lal!. Copy "Vertigo" and call it "Mannar Mathai"!!... what a ripper.

The pioneer of this art has always been Priyadarshan. All the way, starting from Boeing Boeing(Boeing Boeing), Talavattom(One flew over the cuckoo's nest) to Nirnayam(The Fugitive), Kakkakuyil(loosely A Fish Called Wanda) and to his latest Malamaal Weekly. Over time, I believe he should get an honorary Oscar, for having watched and copied so many Hollywood movies. And others also chipped in... Ayushkalam(The Ghost), Life is beautiful(Dead poet's society), etc

I am not saying we should not copy good movies from elsewhere or get "inspired" by them. Infact, that is a good thing to do, bringing world cinema to Malayalam. But taking a psychological thriller like Vertigo and distorting it and making it a sub-plot of a comedy movie is simply un-acceptable. "Mannar Mathai" is a nothing movie, just a comedy flick, achieving nothing what Hitchcock wanted to convey and portray with the original. Maybe the producer was pushing Sidiq-lal too hard for a sequel to Ramji Rao, and they happened to rent the Vertigo CD, and got "inspired"!

Again Talavattam... scene by scene lift, but when it came to the scenes which mattered, the ripper destroyed it altogether. Where Jack Nicholson's character is put into a comma for standing up against the asylum authorities (for attacking the nurse who mentally demoralises and forces his friend to commit suicide), Mohanlal is put into a comma for having loved the doctor's daughter!!, how unimaginative... And "One flew..." ends with full of hope, "the Chief" who has been silent all this time, gets up, smothers Jack Nicholson (and does this with a smile in his face... yes a smile) shatters the hospital window and runs away to freedom, while Talavattam ends so hopelessly, we see Kartika becoming insane dumb!. Still we remember Talavattam as one of the very good movies in malayalam. That's just the genius of a Lal and a Nedumudi. The silliness of the plot is very evident in the way Kyun KI bombed in the box_office last year.

So cutting short, moral of the story... Please do copy and get "inspired", if you can't be creative. But then please do it the Ram Gopal Varma way, acknowledge, copy to the full, and do not give us half baked "Indianised" versions.


LI said...

It's just that when they copy from mallu to Hindi they are not able to appreciate the cultural nuances :).Most of the comedies of priyan become cliched in Hindi

Annam said...

Dont forget Kamals copying of "Three men and a Cradle" into Thoovalsparsham. Let the Directors be reminded that in todays world its not poossible for such plagarism to stay undetected

Brijesh said...

the reason for Priyan to be soo sucessful in copying from english movies is that he knows exactly what changes he has to make from the english movie he is copying.

Many people have tried to copy but only few succeded. "copy adikanum oru kazhivu venam".. otherwise u will be like "hippi" in bobanum mooliyum... he went for the exam and copied everything the student sitting next to him wrote for the exam. While coming out of the exam hall only he realised tht subject itself was different for the student who was sitting neat him.

Priyan knowns exactly what to add and where to add. that is why he became soo successful in Hindi also with his remakes. Lot of directors from south india tried their luck with remakes in Hindi and only few succeded like priyan.

Ur blogs are great. Continue writing.

Anand Henry said...

nice blog. yea u r absolutely right saying that those who remake or copy scenes frm a mvie shld acknowledge it.. b fair..

but i dont understand y do u insist on making an exact copy of the original, and y not make changes in the mvie in the way the ur target audience wud prefer it 2 b.. as a naadan malayalee i really enjoyed the fun n comedy in mannaar mathai.. i guess most of the mallus did.. i havnt watched the original version though.. so wat is wrong if siddique lal made changes to the story.. i doubt the mvie wud hav been a success if it was a thriller.. aftr all not many thrillers are a success in mallu film industry.. so i beleive, knowing ur audience, it is acceptable to make changes in a script and present it the way they wud like it.. but the acknoweldgement part is vry imprtnt..

and btw the ending of thalavattom wasnt really dumb.. :-)

aniSH... said...

Thanks for the post!. Maybe I am a "purist", that is why I insist that we make exact "copies" (atleast keep the intent the same) of classics. I too enjoyed MM... till I saw "Vertigo" and then I knew what it could have been.

But regarding "Thalavattam", I strongly disagree with was very very dumb! :)

Vijith said...

Now Priyadarshan is remaking mannar Mathai into Hindi as "Bhagam Bhag" . You can watch the promo-clips at It is very evident.

So it is a "copy of copy" . Great!!!


bhattathiri said...

Arabikkatha is aA turning point in Kerla Cinema. What I found particularly gratifying was the way the cinema ended, with a discussion about the notion of a political- god - that goes against all rational, scientific thought and reasoning. Winston says….. but science does not explain everything, and to pretend that it does, seems to me arrogant. That is enough is endear him to all readers, if nothing else a serious scholar of science, psychology or any related subject, or you merely like reading about human nature, this is a must-see. The time when all childhood and teenage dreams have come to an end. When you disturbingly start seeing things from your parents’ point of view. When you realize that job satisfaction does not arise from where you work or how much you earn. When you even start attending what a high that was, though we didn’t follow much of it…. Liberalization and opening up of the economy in all ways possible……
Fully exploiting the ignorance and superstitious belief of people, witch hunting is initiated by the opinion leaders in such societies – typically the social man (quack), or the head.

Justin John said...

There are many Malayalam films that are not original. They take stories, scenes, etc from Hindi, English, Tamil, etc.

I have seen an Tamil movie made in the 80's with Arjun, Mukesh, Radha which reminded of Manichitratazhu. I saw it on Sun TV. Some scenes were also similar.

Here are some movies which I remember now that are inspired by Hollywood films

Short Time - Anaval Modhiram
The Golden Child - Yodha
The Dream Team - Mookkila Rajyattu
Three Fugitives - Adheham Enna Idheham
etc, etc

80% of Amitabh Bachchan's movies in the 70's have been made in Malayalam. There are lots of Malayalm movies which have taken the plot from Hindi movies. Currently they don't copy the story , they cpy some scenes from other movies and put it in Malayalam films that sometimes we won't recognize the. I have noticed this especially in Dileep's movies.

Dinesh said...

I enjoyed reading your blog about plagiarism in mal movies. I was searching for the name of the english movie which was copied to make "Vismayathumbathu".Then I found your blog on the net.

Once I saw an english movie having many scenes similiar to Dileep's "Eee Puzhayum Kadannu" in wihch he is shown as watching Manju Warrier through a telescope.Hope someone can give the names of the above English movies.

Keep writing.

ganesh said...

Hi AniSH,
Your blogs are great. keep writing.
I just ended up your Mavoor posts (deshathinde katha, If you have more on that please let me know, more interested to know about it)

Recently I watched IV Sasi's "Arhatha' which made me to think about mavoor and my relatives there.

So is there a gray area between Plagiarism and Inspiration!!