Mystic Tamil shares his views on the Tamil film industry’s tendency to make films that are "inspired" by movies made over in Hollywood.
Some call it “inspiration” and others declare it to be outright plagiarism, but whatever you call it, Kollywood has been recycling plots and scenes from foreign cinema for as long as I can remember. The protocol for making a Kollywood super-hit is simple; take the plot from any Hollywood movie, remove anything that does not fit into Tamil culture, add elements suited to local tastes (e.g. sentiment), a pinch of Masala, a dash of dandanakka dadunkanakka, half a tea spoon of dishoom dishoom, 4-5 songs, cook slowly for 45 days and voila you have your Tamil “Super Film” (“Super Film” must be said with an OK hand gesture, whilst slowly shaking your head side to side).
In Kollywood’s defence, they are not the only movie industry that is doing this; it is a common and accepted practice throughout all film industries in India. Even Hollywood can be accused of borrowing ideas from foreign films, but what sets them apart from the Indian film industry is that Hollywood generally has the decency to acknowledge the films and writers that they borrow ideas from. The filmmakers in India, however, make the suitable adjustment in the scripts (mentioned earlier), and then have the audacity to try to pass them off as original ideas. I don’t think I have seen one Tamil film “inspired” by a Hollywood film that actually acknowledged the original in either the intro or closing credits. This is my issue; Kollywood can steal as many ideas as they want but at least have the decency to acknowledge the original.
If I attempted to discuss every single act of plagiarism in Kollywood this would become the longest article ever posted on the Internet and if I’m honest, I cannot be bothered. So what follows are what I consider to be the two most shameful acts of plagiarism in Kollywood, made worse by the filmmakers’ attempts to pass them off as original ideas.
I saw Deiva Thirumagal several months ago, and since then I have referred to this film under the new title of Deiva Thirutu Magan (Thirutu meaning thieving)! It is a shameful and blatant copy of Sean Penn’s 2001 movie ‘I am Sam’. The only difference between the films is that writer director A.L Vijay – in a desperate attempt to cover up his thievery – changes the ending slightly, and throws in a ridiculous sub-plot involving the child’s biological mother and her family, and the most stupid court room scene in the history of cinema.
When originally questioned about his film’s similarity with ‘I am Sam’, A.L. Vijay boldly declared…“I have persistently been reading the news that DTM is a remake of Hollywood film ‘I am Sam’. The central character of Krishna [played by Vikram] is inspired by personal life as I had a relative with the same mental growth.”
So let me get this straight Mr A.L. Vijay, this movie is based on your personal life? Fine, I accept the possibility that you might have a relative with the same “mental growth” as the Sam character, but what about the rest of the movie? I assume, just like in I am Sam, your relative had a mental age of 5 and then, just like in I am Sam, manages to conceive a child and then has that child taken away from him by the authorities? Then did your relative have to find and hire a plucky and attractive female lawyer to get his child back, just like in I am Sam? Let me guess, it’s just a coincidence that your relative who “inspired” Vikram’s character happened to behave and dress exactly like the character Sam?
No, wait! Holy crap, Mr Vijay…maybe you should get your relative a lawyer since Hollywood just stole his life story and made an Oscar-nominated film out of it. No wait, here’s a better idea….mmmmh…let me see……get the hell outta here!!!!
A dishonourable mention also goes to actor ‘Chiyaan’ Vikram whose performance is an exact copy of Sean Penn’s. He even steals the same freaking hair style of Sam! This is made even more shameful by Vikram’s pathetic claims that he visited various mental illness clinics to understand and create his Krishna character, when it’s just blatantly obvious that he just popped into his local video rental store and hired out a certain film whose name escapes me…
Yet the sad truth is that this movie was a smash hit in India and has been tipped for a National Award, which just goes to show that plagiarism is a common, accepted and celebrated practice in India.
Hollywood movie Memento (2000), directed by Chris Nolan, tells the original story of a man named Leonard who is searching for the killer of his wife. The twist is that he suffers from amnesia, which he contracted in a head injury during the attack that killed his wife. With his limited memory, Leonard zeroes down on his wife’s killer by keeping notes, taking photographs and making tattoos on his body to remember things.
Whereas Ghajini (2005), directed by A. R. Murugadoss and starring Surya, tells the original story of a man named Sanjay who is searching for the killer of his wife. The twist is that he suffers from amnesia, which he contracted in a head injury during the attack that killed his wife. With his limited memory, Sanjay zeroes down on his wife’s killer by keeping notes, taking photographs and making tattoos on his body to remember things.
Ain’t copy pasting great?!
For those of you who don’t know, Ghajini were also remade in Hindi in 2008 and starred Aamir Khan in the lead. The Hindi version, like the Tami version, was written and directed by A. R. Murugadoss and tells the original story of a man named Sanjay who is searching for the killer of his wife. The twist is that he suffers from amnesia, which he contracted in a head injury during the attack that killed his wife. With his limited memory, Sanjay zeroes down on his wife’s killer by keeping notes, taking photographs and making tattoos on his body to remember things.
Ok, no more copy pasting. I promise.
When questioned about the films similarities to Chris Nolan’s Memento, Aamir Khan replied, “A.R. Murugadoss (writer & director) had heard about a film called Memento and the concept had really fascinated him. Without having seen the film, he went ahead and wrote his own version of the script and screenplay. Having finished his script, he then saw Memento, found it very different from what he had written, and went ahead and made Ghajini."
Okaaaaaay! Aamir Khan is either incredibly gullible or the biggest plonker in the world. I will settle for a combination of both. In fact, I have an original story idea for you Aamir, it’s about an astronaut whose spaceship accidently enters a wormhole and he crash lands on an alien planet ruled by T. Rajendar and other similar apes. It has an amazing twist near the end where the astronaut, upon coming across the ruined remains of a Chennai Dosa takeaway, realises that he is not on another planet but in fact had time-travelled to a future Earth. This script is completely different to Planet of The Apes. In fact, I had written my script without seeing Planet of The Apes so any similarities are purely coincidental. Would you like to star in it? I want 10 million crores to write and direct, and I can only pay you in magic beans. Cool?
The views expressed in this article are those of Mystic Tamil, the avid Tamil movie buff.