Friday, May 15, 2009

Inspiration, or Plagiarism

And I thought Dev.D, though obviously a take on Devdas, was an original take in its entirety. It seems that in at least one entirely superfluous scene, the director, Anurag Kashyap, chooses to blatantly copy an award-winning short film.

The film didn't need this scene, but since I saw this film in theater, the scene was quite a crowd-pleaser, and the discovery of its roots only serves to confirm my impression that playing to the gallery is not an unimportant consideration for one of the most promising Indian directors at present. He played to the gallery many times in Gulaal, and needlessly so. Such instances only seek to dilute the artistic merit of his work.

The short film in question is Schwarzfahrer (Black Rider, Pepe Danquart, 1993), and nobody who sees this short film as well as Dev.D can fail to instantly recognize the inspiration, or plagiarism.

The short film, quite a Roald Dahl kind of story, won the Oscar for the best short film in 1994.


ravi said...

Dude, Anurag Kashyap has acknowledged it as the inspiration in his blog.

This expression is not new, I have a read a novel written in Kannada(published in 1950s) where a character throws out the ticket of his nagging neighbour(which was also shown in an ad for tea).

Anonymous said...

The scene is not plagiarism, but inspired from the German film. While writing the screenplay ( in this case A. Kashyap and Motwani)screenwriters may have included the scene , the humour in the incidence is fresh and a newer joke. Popular Cinema , by its nature, anticipates the audience's response and includes formulaic humour and shock value alternatively. While contemplative cinema or non-popular genre will shake or provoke, popular cinema will always titillate and sensationalize.

You may hold Kashyap in some idealist regard, but at the end of the day he has to sell his film to a distributor. His films are consciously popular in nature, just that he adds tang to it...he is not Prakash Jha or Mani Ratnam, but cross between Mrinal Sen and Raj Kapoor ( young in years but not necessarily a mature wine...).

Dev D is by far the closest and best adaptation of Saratchandra's novel by the same name. And Abhay Deol is a brilliant actor...every muscle in his face acts!!!

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Ravi,

Can you provide a reference for Kashyap's blog?

I was doubtful, that's why I expressly did not call it plagiarism (but put in "inspiration" as an alternative explanation).

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Ravi,

In an interview, AK does not mention the inspiration while discussing the bus scene.

The relevant excerpt is:

"R: But you write mad scenes… I feel your biggest strength as a writer is that you are able to come up with some mad scenes. From the ‘murgi ka naam Champa hai’ scene from Paanch to the scene in Dev D where he eats the bus ticket…
A: This bus ticket scene was in Grand Hotel (a film yet to be made) — it kind of seeped in because I wanted to shoot that scene. It was first supposed to be in Paanch — but then I changed that scene into something else, it became a violent fight... then I said I will still use that scene, then... it kind of… it moved four films and finally landed in Dev D…"