A poster of Barfi! at Glitz Cinema on Main Road in Ranchi on Wednesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Filmmaker Anurag Basu can take solace from Ranchi. India’s official entry to the Oscars and probably Ranbir Kapoor’s bravest film yet, Barfi! proved to be a bitter-sweet bite for Basu who hit box-office jackpot but found himself fighting accusations of plagiarism.
Who cares, is the popular refrain among cine-goers in the state capital. Fully aware that Basu has been accused of lifting scenes from around a dozen films from world cinema, they are going to watch Barfi! in droves.
Bollywood and controversies go hand in hand, most youngsters said, reeling off instances of well-known inspirations.
“Remember Aamir Khan and Pooja Bhatt’s Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi in 1991? It was a huge hit though each scene was copied from the Hollywood classic It Happened One Night (1934),” said Atul Anand, final-year student of St Xavier’s College.
His friends gave examples of Chachi 420 (1997), copied from Mrs Doubtfire (1993).
But that is perhaps not the point as the filmmakers of both — Mahesh Bhatt and Kamal Haasan — never claimed they were making original films. Basu, however, did for Barfi!, when he spoke about the love that his deaf-mute protagonist had for two different girls — the town’s beauty and an autistic loner.
Barfi! has close resemblance to Hollywood’s Benny and Joon (1993) and Korean film Oasis (2002). A website www.nowpublic.com has even uploaded clips of scenes and compared them with Barfi!
The film is also “inspired” by physical comedies of Charlie Chaplin’s The Adventurer (1917), City Lights (1931) and even Bollywood’s Koshish (1972), where Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri played a deaf-mute couple.
DAV Kapil Dev tenth grader Harsh Mishra has a provocative take on the issue of plagiarism in Bollywood.
“Tell me, which film made by Indian directors is not a copy? Whenever a good film is a hit at the box-office, such controversies will occur,” said Harsh. “I’ll see Barfi! for its complete entertainment package.”
Himanshu Chitlangia, a second-year BCom student of St Xavier’s College, offered another insight. “Why the plot, sometimes even posters are copied. Take Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Lords of Dogtown (2005), and see the resemblance in the look and feel of posters. But did it stop us from loving the Hindi film?”
That seems certainly the case for Barfi! whose heart-warming romance is even edging out the halkat Heroine.
Dhurv Kushwaha, manager of Glitz Multiplex, said the response for Barfi! had been overwhelming. “It is doing better than Kareena Kapoor’s Heroine. Walk-in crowds, telebooking and online booking are the most for this movie,” he said.
Deepak Choudhary, Plaza Cinema manager, said the young crowd was returning to watch repeat shows of Barfi!
Ajit Kumar of Eylex agreed that students were rooting for Barfi! more.
“It is interesting that cousins Kareena and Ranbir are competing at the box-office with Heroine and Barfi!, with one playing Mahi, a superstar, and the other, Murphy, a small-town disabled boy. But the latter has struck a deeper chord,” he said.