Of Copying & Plagiarization in Indian Movies – Must Read

Although we have never published posts by outsiders on this blog in the past, we are making an exception in this instance. The below post is a great response to a comment on our review of U Me Aur Hum. The author Araj, a reader of the SearchIndia.com blog, is responding belatedly to a comment from tsk_tsk  on July 7th, 2008 at 1:50 am to our review of U Me Aur Hum. The reason for publishing Araj’s comment as a separate post is to give it greater exposure as otherwise this fine piece would get buried as a comment on a movie released four months back (April 2008).

Here is Araj’s comment on tsk_tsk‘s comment to the U Me Aur Hum Review:

1) Your statements are contradictory. On one hand, you say Hollywood lacks originality ‘coz its movies are ‘copies of books’ and on the other you condone Indian plagiarism since it adds to the ‘beauty of the originals’ which, according to you, are highly unoriginal in the first place since they are mere copies of ‘original’ books. Therefore, do you mean to say ‘copy of a copy’ is better than ‘just a copy’?

2) My dear, a film that is based on a book is called an ‘adaptation’ for christ’s sake, not a ‘copy’( if you do not know what is an adaptation and the kinds of adaptations, read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_adaptation. You will get an idea.). An adaptation is an age-old tradition of art of movie-making as it helps a film-maker to explore the facets of life that otherwise lie outside his experiential jurisdiction hence inaccessible. Adaptation is a technique that enables the filmmaker to draw from the collective perspicacity of the authors whose works he can convert into screenplays. Because, from a deepest creative viewpoint, making movies is an impossibly unsustainable task i.e. one cannot keep on making great movies drawing from one’s own experiential pool alone however abundantly imaginative one’s mind is. Literature, therefore, frees the mind of a film-maker from the experiential restrictions the life imposes on every human by default by offering him a clear vision of nuts-and-bolts of infinite variants of a singular life force culled from the innumerable experiences/inventiveness of the innumerable authors. Vast literature, both in terms of quantity and quality is only the means by which we can unfurl the Life on the silver screen in its myriads. What’s the point?? The point is, the tradition of writing adapted screenplays to make powerful movies is not a luxury but a sheer necessity born out of the need to free the art of film-making from the shackles of experiential restrictions the Life essentially imposes on the filmmaker (on any human being for that matter). Hence, I should say, only a wide-eyed greenhorn moviegoer with an half-baked know-how of art of film-making would dare claim full-fledged legal adaptations to be ‘just copies’. Forgive me for my harsh observations, but I cannot help it as your comments can potentially mislead someone who is very eager to believe that the ‘scam’ (scum) called ‘Indian cinema’ is actually on par with Hollywood.

3) Apart from the above, the plagiarist never acknowledges the original; he neither pays for the original source he copies nor he acknowledges in public that he copied or inspired by a particular work. He boldly or tacitly claims the work as his own. That’s unethical besides being illegal. Did you see Ajay Devgan mention ‘The Notebook’ in his public Q&As or pre-release/post-release promos let alone the credits?? No, he wouldn’t. Never. Doing such a thing is actually against the ‘conscience’ and ‘spirit’ of a plagiarist. However, if you please read the reviews of the film The Notebook or watch its credits, you will notice that they clearly mention it as the adaptation of the Nicholas Spark’s novel with the same name (in fact, Nicholas Spark is famous for writing many musty romantic tales some of which were made into movies. Remember ‘A Walk to Remember’ or ‘Message in a bottle’). They actually say that it’s based on so-and-so novel by so-and-so author. Why?? Have they gone out of their minds??. They do so because they pay for it. They pay a million bucks to the original author as a token of acknowledgement of his work. Hence, before being anything else the plagiaristic movie-making is, first and the foremost, in a strict legal sense, an illegal copy of the original by committing which you a) trespass the rights of the original novelist to earn the royalty for his original work b) trespass the commercial privileges of the original film-maker who actually earned the rights for adapting the novel by paying a fat sum to the original author c) deprive original author/original filmmaker of his artistic license to celebrate the applause of the audience, which he is ethically entitled to. If anything creative, be it scientific or artistic, can be copied just like that on a mealy-mouthed plea that ‘duplication’ is necessary to reach a wider audience/beneficiaries, we may as well remove the words ‘patent’ and the ‘copyright’ from our legal dictionaries. If you are right, we can invent a vaccine for AIDS without ever being grateful to Louis Pasteur or make a Satellite phone without ever acknowledging the work of Graham Bell (in fact, we, the Indians, wouldn’t even make a satellite phone. We would make something that looks like a telephone without a diaphragm or a transmitter and claims it to be a superior variation of the original telephone. We say, of course, who is Graham Bell, anyway.). You said all plagiarism is not evil. But the very word plagiarism denotes an ‘evil copy’. Therefore, first, please learn the difference between the words ‘Adaptation’ and a ‘Copy’, ‘Remake’ and ‘Plagiarism’. In a very simplistic licit terms, the former are legal and the latter are illegal(In a creative sense, the latter are very often vastly inferior to the original. At least Indian versions). Why can’t Devgan say his idea for UMH germinated from ‘The Note Book’. Why doesn’t he at least acknowledge the work of Nicholas Sparks ( Do you think the thieves actually knew the movies they stole were adaptations?? Do you mean to say they actually read the original source??). If these guys are really brimming with passion for cinema, why couldn’t they grab these books in the first place before Hollywood did it and make movies out of them themselves?? If you are really straight and honest, why do you have to wait for someone from Hollywood to pay millions for the novelists and work their asses off to write an adapted screenplay so that you can lift the concept straight from it? Why don’t you dig up the literature yourself, pay for it and make a movie out of it? Even if your insincere plagiaristic work is forgiven, what’s stopping you from publicly applauding the work of the original author at least for giving you that killer idea that earned you millions??? (Most of the original Hollywood/chinese/Korean works, the lazy indian film-makers steal, are inferior products themselves). Apart from all this, do you mean to say Indian film-makers exclusively plagiarize only those Hollywood movies which are based on books and do not actually copy any ‘original screenplays’?(’Changing Lanes’ into ‘Taxi 9211′ and ‘Collateral’ into ‘The Killer’ etc., etc.,. This list goes on endlessly. I believe Mumbai is probably the piracy capital of the world). The Chinese, Korean film-makers do not adapt novels as frequently as Hollywood does as they shoot C-grade action flicks most of the time. Then why do we steal these movies as regularly as we steal Hollywood, though the source of these movies is not often a book??

4) You said a copy occasionally adds to the beauty of the original. Firstly, in the context of quality of Indian movies, please replace the word ‘occasionally’ with ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ as most of the Indian plagiaristic works wrench the theme of the original out of its natural narrative and distort it in the name of nativity. However, at the end, most of these ‘free remakes’ actually either draw their situations or dilemmas of its characters out of elements of American culture or varnish the hyper-cliched Indian narrative with the stolen theme. In case of the former, the quality of the copy is naturally becomes inferior to that of the original, whose basic theme much more readily blends into its plot since they were both derived from the same cultural resource. In case of the latter, however, the stink of the underlying stereotypical narrative and characters usually overwhelms the deodorizing scent of the ‘stolen theme’, unless, of course, you are suffering from acute artistic anosmia (the inability to smell.

Secondly, just tell me who is going to talk about the ‘original’ let alone it’s ‘beauty’. If you are actually conceding that the source of a copy is a ‘beautiful original’, shouldn’t it’s existence be acknowledged first before making a copy?? Shouldn’t the ‘cool guys’,who enjoyed the ‘cool movie’ UMH, have to applaud the original ‘cool’ movie ‘The Note Book’ that made the secondary ‘cool’ movie UMH possible or remember Nicholas Sparks who wrote such a ‘cool’ novel which is actually the source of both the ‘cool’ movies?? (Even the fad of using the word ‘cool’ often is aping an Yankee expression).

5) As for your having a laugh about my remarks about victimization of Hollywood etc., I would say everything you said minus your misplaced sarcasm holds true. Yes. They pay a fat purse to get the copyrights and they do toil hard to write an ‘adapted screenplay’ and we copy their ‘original adaptation’. Of course, it’s criminal. Since, it takes considerable visual imagination and story-telling talent to condense a 600 page novel to a crisp 120 page adapted screenplay or to expand a simple single-line description of a scenario or a character of a paperback into a long set of detailed meaningful visuals, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences actually presents an Oscar for the ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ apart from awarding the ‘Best Original Screenplay’. In fact, the films that win Best Picture Oscars are often made of the adapted screenplays. Last year’s Best Picture ‘The Departed’ and this year’s ‘No Country for oldmen’ have won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay as well. Scorcese’s Oscar-winning remake ‘The Departed’ boldly declares it’s screenplay is based on that of ‘Infernal Affairs’(The ‘Pather Panchali’ of the great Satyajit Ray is actually an adaptation of Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay’s novel of the same name). Like-wise, innumerable Hollywood flicks over the decades have been adaptations of novels, real-life stories, comic books or short stories. Adapting literature isn’t any warped new phenomenon that gives you a pointer to ‘lack of originality’ in Hollywood as you amateurishly claim. In fact, it is one of the primary reasons why Hollywood could be able to come up with such a vast number of ‘original’ story lines which are generously copied and deformed by the freebooters called Indian filmmakers and why Hollywood is such a Juggernaut in the realm of motion pictures.

6) You spoke of Hollywood producers to be millionaire bastards. If someone who pays millions for something he takes is a bastard, then what should we call someone who makes millions out of something he stole and produce such perfectly bastardized movies?? Mean-SOBs, pimps??. Your tirade against Hollywood producers there seems to be a case of a typical jingoist vehemence, born of an acute sense of inferiority, of a dabbler who has an inkling that the kind of cinema he gets a kick out of is indeed a shallow ill-gotten lovey-dovey fare.

7) Is the Indian cinema in the pink of its health or it is betraying an ugly yellow of a deeper cultural malady? The problem with the Indian Cinema is more about the kind of films it makes than the kind of movies it cannot make. It is more about the alarming depths the sensitivity of it’s audience has fallen off the minimum acceptable perceptual threshold of a cross-section of generic movie-buffs of any other culture. If Om Shathi Om is an rigorously recycled decoction of super-absurdity that defies the universal notions of ‘entertainment and art’, which only Indians can find ‘entertaining’ and are capable of making, ‘Bheja Fry’ is an insipid cinematized stage-play that can only look good in contrast with an atrocity called OSO and hardly the basis on which you can claim parity with Hollywood, which not just refined but actually invented new genres of filmmaking. OSO – Bheja Fry wouldn’t denote the range of versatility or two ‘divergent forms of ingenuity’ of Indian Cinema as you tacitly imply, rather they only represent a ‘chronic disease’ and it’s ‘inevitable side-effect’ respectively. There is a thick line between ‘originality’ and ‘quackery’, ‘inventiveness’ and ‘contrivance’, ‘discrepancy’ and ‘diversity’. The fact that Bheja Fry is not based on a book wouldn’t make it great, on the contrary, lack of ample quality contemporary literature is a major reason why Indian Cinema still resorts to either recycling ‘conventional junk’ like OSO or outright stealing from foreign cinema in order to cash in on the new generation of ‘half-exposed/unexposed’ moviegoers who demand ‘new thrills’. Hence, the metamorphosis of Indian cinema, which seems to be ‘pink of its health’, is more on the lines of ‘commercial invention’ than ‘creative evolution’. Artistic caliber is not only measured in terms of the heights it can achieve but also in terms of the lows it cannot succumb to. From that perspective, the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of American Cinema(or any other foreign cinema) simply operate at a higher level than the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of its Indian counterpart as it is intrinsically immune to the anomalies, which you mistake to be novelties, that plague Indian Cinema. (Why the hell OSO, which ought not have been made in the first place, should do as well as it ought to have?? Skewed, isn’t it?? Only a psychopath would make a movie like OSO for American audience or even ‘Bheja Fry’ for that matter).

The films you mentioned, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings (visually, probably the best trilogy in the entire film history of the world) etc.,etc., are comic book adaptations, a form of adaptation the Hollywood has virtual monopoly over. Though India doesn’t have a comic book culture, the comic book adaptations of Hollywood have actually resulted in their dowdy Indian versions of superheroes like Mukesh Khanna’s Shaktiman, whose premise is generously and unabashedly copied from that of American Superman and that superman+batman+spiderman hodgepodge of Krrish. Shaktiman was a hugely popular television series and I don’t remember Khanna ever acknowledging publicly about where exactly he got his idea of Shaktiman from. India do not/cannot produce comic book adaptations not because it has the will to produce only magnum opus of other genres but because the comic book films require huge budgets, great visual imagination and very healthy screenwriting traditions none of which Indian filmmakers have besides the total absence of quality comic book literature. Nevertheless, I reiterate that India doesn’t have substantial contemporary literature to have a tradition of adapted screenplays and what it produces mostly is crude rehashes of back-dated/brand-new foreign cinema and it’s weird to hail it as ‘original’ than the very industry whose ‘narrative structures’ and ‘movies’ it unflinchingly steals from as a means of its survival. (I cannot imagine what would have been your reaction had Mumbai produced Lord of the Rings and Spielberg made an American version of the crappy DDLJ). Though the Hollywood is rife, of late, with comic book adaptations, especially after the runaway success of Lord of the rings, I don’t understand, why should it necessarily mean Hollywood lacks originality when its production of films in other genres easily outnumber, both quantity-wise and quality-wise, the production of films of similar genres of Indian movie industry, most of which are, in reality, ‘very remakes’ of American films?? Moreover, of the million movies the Hollywood makes every year only a fraction comprising of big-budget action adventures, sci-fi/comic book adaptations or films of branded directors arrive in India to tap the potential commercial market of that common universal movie ‘mob’, which barely reflect the vibrancy of real Hollywood.

9) Did it actually hit the wall?? Does American cinema suffers from dearth of originality?? Yes. It does. But it’s at another level. There used to be a tennis great called Ivan Lendl, who could never be able to win even a single Wimbledon final. Though Ivan Lendl is considered to be one of the greatest of tennis players ever born, somehow, the grass courts of Wimbledon seemed to expose a ‘weakness’ in his technique. Then should we say Ivan Lendl is as good or bad as someone like Ramesh Krishnan just because Krishnan played some of his greatest tennis only on grass courts?? No, we don’t say that, do we?? Lendl’s game on grass courts is predictable and unidimensional only in comparison with other ‘equally-talented’ top players with who he had to compete with at Wimbledon and we say he is a ‘failure at Wimbledon’ only with reference to the ‘level of success’ he had had on other types of courts at other times against other great players at the ‘level he competes at’. Simply speaking, Lendl is only considered ‘incomplete’ because his ’success’ at Wimbledon is disproportionate to the general level of finesse he could be able to achieve in the game of Tennis itself(Lendl reached Wimbledon finals twice. Had Ramesh Krishnan done that it would have been hailed as one of the greatest Indian sporting achievements ever). Likewise, Hollywood can only be called ’stereotypical’, ‘unoriginal’ and ‘lagging-behind’ only with reference to the degree of refinement a film industry with such an illustrious past and pedigree ought to achieve in the art of filmmaking but not in comparison with an industry whose very substratum for its ‘new-age cinema’ is Hollywood’s very own(and mostly obsolete) ‘narrative structures’ and ‘leitmotiv’. Hence, India’s so called ‘in-vogue’ cinema is hardly an equivalent parallel cinematic alternative to Hollywood as most hypocritical Indian movie fans would like to believe, rather it is only an inferior subsystem of its ‘American parent’ whose movies and literature are profusely used as its aesthetic fuel for sustenance (why? even the word ‘Bollywood’ is a variation of Hollywood. Do the French call their movie-industry ‘Pariswood’??). Don’t you think the lead poster of convergent line of slick, muscle-bound leather-jacketed hunks and cleavage-flaunting halter-topped ladies dangling LMGs of a typical Bollywood action flick reeks of its third-grade out-of-date Hollywood counterpart??

10. You say Originality is rare…India or not etc.,. Yes, it is. But the infrequency of that ‘rarity’ in India is so greater/wider/bigger/larger/deeper/higher than any other movie industry that it makes you wonder originality actually exists/can exist here.

PS: I wish you give ur readers a chance to use wide range of emoticons. What with your ability to fire emotions of all sorts of all sorts of your readers, the emoticons can really make this blog infinitely more expressive and I love that (I feel like smiling and there is no emoticon at hand). Hope you guys give a thought to my request.

Author of above comment/post – Araj.

9 Responses to "Of Copying & Plagiarization in Indian Movies – Must Read"

  1. gandhiji   August 16, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Araj’s points are foolproof.. Although a bit too lengthy for my taste and attention span.

    I think a very, very small % of the people actually care about due credit being given to the original novel or movie. It will probably cost them more to get the rights?? Gautam Menon acknowledged in a interview that his movie was based on the novel “Derailed”.. only after being cornered by some people asking whether it was copied from the Jennifer Aniston movie.

    I do have a comment about Lendl.. He was BORING.. Nadal would be considered a greater player than Lendl even if he hadn’t won the wimbledon, because he is more entertaining.
    I didn’t understand how Lendl’s lack of wimbledon wins can be compared with hollywood’s shortcomings (too vague). I just think that you love Lendl too much and wanted to plug him here. 🙂 – see I was able use an emoticon!
    Lendl can probably be compared to bollywood for churning out the same baseline game (comparable to the bollywood formula) over and over again and ending up in nearly 20 grand slam finals.. without really winning many hearts.

    What’s the latest on this.. We need more of this.

    Araj is too critical sometimes.. He thinks Jack Nicholson and Kamal Hassan (pardon me if I have understood you incorrectly) have never given any noteworthy performances. I feel that he is highly prejudiced when it comes to evaluating actors..

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. You write above: I think a very, very small % of the people actually care about due credit being given to the original novel or movie

    True. By the same logic a very, very small % of the people would actually care about a theft in your house, an attack on your family or the loss of your job.

    The point is rampant theft in the Indian movie industry and we are sure the theft matters to the creators of the original IP, be it writers, musicians or producers.

    2. Araj is too critical sometimes

    He makes strong points and argues his case cogently.

    3. What’s the latest on this.. We need more of this.

    We also want to know what’s happening. Wonder if there’s been an out of court settlement.

    4. I do have a comment about Lendl.. He was BORING..

    We don’t remember much about Lendl but Illie Nastase, Jimmy Connors & John McEnroe were some of the colorful characters in tennis. Connors is/was married to a Playmate of the Year Patty McGuire, whose centerfold gave us a lot of sleepless nights at one time.

  2. sganeshkumar1989   August 17, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Ver well written. Infact,when it comes to novel-based films, I share almost have the same opinion which the author has. 🙂
    Considering Hollywood even pays money to adapt the novels into films, why should you accuse them as unoriginal etc? Infact,I would like Indian film-makers to make more movies adapting some of our good literature works rather than stupidly copying Foreign films and throwing some craps on the people.

  3. araj   August 22, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    @ Search India:

    First of all, I would say I am pleasantly surprised to see my ‘comment on a comment’ being published as a separate post 🙂 . Coming from you guys, it’s a compliment and I would say I cherish it ;;). Thanks a lot, great gesture. But I also request you guys to consider publishing regularly some of the comments of your ‘wiser’ readers you find interesting as separate posts so as to squeeze out more of their brains. Such a thing, I believe, will make these interactive debates more intense. Apart from that, at the risk of sounding you-scratch-my-back-and-I-scratch-yours I believe Searchindia is one of the very few sites that writes reviews without the slightest fear of being proved wrong and you are not wrong very very often. Please keep up the good work….. =D>

    @ gandhiji:

    1) But Araj’s points are foolproof…..

    No argument can ever be foolproof because only fools can disprove any argument. 😀

    2) …a bit too lengthy for my taste and attention span.

    Yes. It is lengthy. The intuitive understanding of something is akin to the data on a CD; invisible and compressed. Only when you login to your subconscious and begin to decipher it, can you realize how torturously interminable your contention can be.

    3) I didn’t understand how Lendl’s lack of wimbledon wins can be compared with hollywood’s shortcomings (too vague)….

    I think the analogy between Lendl’s Wimbledon bogeys and Hollywood in the relevant para of my original post is pretty lucid and self-explanatory(did you read it fully sir? 🙁 ). I would advise you to go through it once again. In essence, what I was trying to say is just as Lendl’s failure at Wimbledon would no way make Ramesh Krishnan, who has had occasional good outings on grass, comparable with somebody as great as Lendl, Hollywood’s stereotypy and predictability would by no means degrade it so as to be analogous with Indian film industry in terms of the quality of the movies it manufactures. In other words, both Lendl and Hollywood can be called mediocre in certain aspects only in comparison with something equal or superior and the ‘distance they are yet to travel’ but not in comparison with something vastly inferior (in fact, the clarification was much more clearer in my original post).

    5)I just think that you love Lendl too much and wanted to plug him here.

    Nope 🙂 . My favorites were Swedish greats. First it was Mats Wilander and then Stefan Edberg. In fact, I too used to consider Lendl to be boring and rejoice whenever he lost.

    6)…..He thinks Jack Nicholson and Kamal Hassan…………..have never given any noteworthy performances.

    Take this, I even consider Morgan Freeman to be hyper-rated (and i am repulsed by all Spielberg movies) 😀 . The acting talent of Freeman, in my opinion, is as mythical as philanthropy of Mother Theresa (Both are/were creations, i believe, to a large extent, of the media). Be it ‘Million Dollar Baby’ or ‘The Dark Knight’, Freeman is paid millions of dollars movie after movie just for his dour manner and blank stare (even his negative roles are just as pigeonholed). Same thing goes for Jack Nicholson, who is usually roped in to cash in on his sonorous voice and sarcastic demeanour (though, I agree with Searchindia that he is very charismatic in certain roles. And also, I think, he is immensely more talented than Freeman). The thing is, I always look suspiciously upon all those actors who are primarily cast in a film to ‘garnish’ the movie with a certain ‘popular feature’ of their personality that can ramp up the market value of the film rather than for their unadulterated acting talent itself or they suit the role better (mind, these actors may be quite talented, one never knows. But the roles for them are always written in such way that they don’t need to act at all).

    Coming to Kamal Hassan, I pretty well remember defending him ferociously, once upon a time, against fans of Chiranjeevi (Superstar of Telugu movies), who used to argue that their favourite star is as good as or better than Kamal Hassan. However, as I grew up, I realized, pretty quickly, Kamal Hassan to be a nauseating fake. Like I mentioned in my debate with Searchindia on evaluating actors at their review of ‘Race’ (I think you read it), I believe Kamal Hassan is more of a masquerader than a genuine actor. He regards playing a role more as a ‘feat’ than as a palpable enactment that can twang the subconscious of his audience. His incessant obsession with showmanship can only force him to portray his characters as gaudy ‘novelties’ that ring false mostly and feels ‘funny’ sometimes (I really liked some of his comic roles). His very ‘cosmetic’ understanding of acting extends to his filmmaking style also, as oftentimes, instead of being repelled by and completely doing away with shrill lyricism of Indian movies like any genuinely evolved filmmaker, this incorrigible fake almost always attempts to augment it with tawdry narrative structures inspired by foreign cinema (Dashavatharam is one bloody example of it), outrageously stripping them of their complexity and underlying intelligence (he also has a tendency to pick fancy intellectual themes without an iota of subjective understanding of the characters of the story). The end result is a colourful, highly animated and superficially detailed ‘puppet show’, which feels loooong but gets you nowhere. He often resorts to lengthy, boring, pretentious and convoluted story-telling just to prove simple, high-school moral precepts(for ex, Hey Ram). This fella has a mountainous ego as well besides his naiveté and seriously expects the world cinema to be impressed with his childish overtures at making ‘great’ movies (read his remarks about Oscars). When it comes to characterization, I think, many Hollywood films are just as flat, facsimile and mawkish (but, usually without Kamal Hassan’s unbearable excesses), but they often come up with great narratives and thoughtful themes (say, Matrix) to keep the ‘crowd’ engaged and ‘happy’. Kamal Hassan fails in both departments and fails pretty badly. The problem with Kamal Hassan is he has too ordinary a mind behind all that know-it-all facade to make kind of attempts he makes.

    7)I feel that he is highly prejudiced when it comes to evaluating actors.

    You said I am prejudiced in evaluating actors. But the thing with this evaluation of anything/anybody is that the yardsticks for your evaluation keeps on changing as the quality of your perception/sensitivity evolves with time. As you grow up, with any pliant mind that has the potential to evolve (I believe I have one, if you let me brag for a second 😀 ), you develop the ability to rip apart ‘masks’ so as to perceive the ‘dead-end psychological structures’ that underlie the matrix of emotions, a particular individual heavily draws upon. You begin to perceive the ‘architecture’ and ‘boundaries’ of his mind which he finds it difficult to go beyond. What has it got to do with an actor? It has, because, as your perception becomes ‘sharp’, you begin to sniff involuntarily the mindset of the actor than being preoccupied with his acting itself. With such a rarefied perception, the acting of a particular actor is not a mere end in itself, rather it is a snapshot of his ‘psychological structure’ which makes the experience of watching his acting ‘measurable’ (hence miserable). At your high vantage point, you no longer live inside an actor’s performance, no longer get carried away, but can afford to take a few steps back and ‘size it up’. You will begin to decipher clearly why a particular actor acts the way he acts. The whole process narrows down your ‘options of enjoyment’ severely, because you yearn for expansion and for more of the ‘undefined’, that ‘something’ which can effortlessly surpass (not sneak through) your ‘intellect’, be it a film or acting, which, of course, you find increasingly difficult to procure. If you tell an actor why you’ve disliked a particular piece of his acting, he may not even be able to comprehend your ‘babbling’ because his cognizance hasn’t yet expanded up to the level you operate at (often, even the reverse is true i.e. you operate much below the point an actor operates at). So does this all still sounds like prejudice? I hope not….

    @ Searchindia:
    1.He makes strong points and argues his case cogently.

    Thanks. But, perhaps, I choose points that can easily be proved 😀 .

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Interesting, as usual.

  4. gandhiji   August 22, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    Very eloquent. especially if you had written all that in one sitting.. (I suspect that you put it all together in a notepad over the course the last few days .. even then made a very interesting reading).

    #2 – agree
    #3 – for Lendl, grass excellence was virtually unattainable .. but for hollywood, there are no such limitations.. sky is the limit. So I still don’t quite agree with your comparison.. whatever.. forget it.
    #4 – WUT??? there is no 4
    #5 – I went the german way.. Becker and Graf.
    #6 – If that goes for Jack, then the same goes for Robert de Niro and Al Pacino, no? Aren’t they usually roped in to cash in on their .. .
    Regarding Kamal, I agree with you mostly.. What do you think of his performances in Thevar Magan, Mahanadhi, Virumaandi etc. his mountainous ego is why we find his antics more repulsive than they deserve, I think.
    He probably needs to take Robert Downey Jr’s advice (Nobody Goes Full Retard) from “Tropic Thunder” before doing his next retard role.

    #6 and #7 – What can I say.. I am tempted to say that “you are so full of yourself”.. Repulsed by all spielberg movies?? I don’t know much about Teresa.. so can’t blindly defend her.. could well be media hype as you said.. I’ll give you the benefit of doubt that there may be some truth in what you are saying.. but you are stretching it a bit too much, I think.

    Even if I have the potential to evolve into such an analytical monster, I’d rather relinquish such sceptical perception and just sit back enjoy a fabulous Jack Nicholson(or even a Kamal.. Kamal’s ability to speak various languages and dialects, amazes me) performance.. that’ll make life more enjoyable and less miserable.

    Can you please give me your list of favorite movies.. and favorite actors..

    p.s.: Are you a Celtics fan? Just trying to find out why you don’t like Jack..

  5. gandhiji   August 26, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    yo Araj, what did you think of Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance in ‘There Will Be Blood’

  6. araj   August 29, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    1. Very eloquent. especially if you had written all that in one sitting….
    No, it’s not in one sitting. It took me two lunch hours and one post-dinner session to compose that reply.
    2. If that goes for Jack, then the same goes for Robert de Niro and Al Pacino, no? Aren’t they usually roped in to cash in on their …..
    I don’t think either De Niro or Al Pacino has a ‘style’ that is as ‘concretized’ as that of Jack Nicholson.
    3. What do you think of his performances in Thevar Magan, Mahanadhi, Virumaandi etc.
    I think I have seen those movies in Telugu(Thevar Magan = Kshatriya Putrudu, Mahanadhi = Mahanadhi, Virumaandi = Pothuraju). In ‘Thevar Magan’ his acting was camp. In Mahanadhi it was mostly histrionic. And ‘Virumaandi’ is Kamal Hassan’s histrionics + contorted narrative that come to nothing.
    4. his mountainous ego is why we find his antics more repulsive than they deserve, I think.
    I think his antics are actually a result of his mountainous ego.
    5. He probably needs to take Robert Downey Jr’s advice (Nobody Goes Full Retard) from “Tropic Thunder” before doing his next retard role.
    Haven’t seen ‘Tropic Thunder’.
    6. What can I say.. I am tempted to say that “you are so full of yourself”.. Repulsed by all spielberg movies??
    Without launching myself into another ‘intellectual harangue’, I would say Spielberg’s success is one hell of an obscene triumph of superlative craftsmanship over essence of art. Spielberg is simply a Mani Ratnam amplified a million times….a very ordinary mind with an extraordinary skill…..
    7. …..but you are stretching it a bit too much, I think.
    Actually, I desperately try to play something as it is…perhaps, a bit toooooooo much.
    8. Even if I have the potential to evolve into such an analytical monster…… I’d rather relinquish such sceptical perception…..
    My analytical ability(if I really have one..) or ‘skeptical perception’ couldn’t have got anything to do with my appreciating or depreciating a movie. I tend to judge a work of art intuitively and intuitive judgment is like a lightening. It bolts through the sky before the thunder reaches your ears. Perhaps, I just try to ‘define’ my intuition a lot harder than other people. It’s something like reading, deleting and moving mails in an Inbox of an unused e-mail.
    9. …..and just sit back enjoy a fabulous Jack Nicholson…..
    Often, once you realize what exactly makes you think something is fabulous, it simply ceases to be fabulous….(however, I do think Nicholson is simply fabulous in many roles…I really enjoyed his Col. Nathan Jessup in ‘Few Goodmen’)
    10. …..that’ll make life more enjoyable and less miserable….
    What makes you think I only analyze what I don’t enjoy???
    10. Can you please give me your list of favorite movies.. and favorite actors..
    I don’t believe in ‘favourite lists’. My favourites keep changing with time. But talking of favourites, De Niro’s Travis Bickle in Scorcese’s ‘Taxi Driver’ still haunts me and I certainly consider Rober De Niro to be a genuinely great actor (mind you, I may change my mind later). I also like George Clooney. He looks like an astrological old soul to me(appearances are deceptive though).
    11. Are you a Celtics fan? Just trying to find out why you don’t like Jack..
    I would answer that question if only you can tell me why Jack Nicholson is obsessed(unnecessarily) so much with Lakers…..
    12. yo Araj, what did you think of Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance in ‘There Will Be Blood’.
    Haven’t seen ‘There Will Be Blood’.

  7. gandhiji   August 29, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    I don’t like most of Manirathinam’s movies.. you are probably me amplified a million times.

    you said.. ”
    What makes you think I only analyze what I don’t enjoy???

    What do you enjoy?

    Jack Nicholson was “fabulous” even in a movie as recent as
    ‘The Departed’.. .. De Niro hasn’t don’t anything worthy lately.. Clooney also has a nicholson-like fabulous-ness which you (not me) will start hating soon, i bet. Have you watched “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”?

    Can you explain what you mean by Spielberg’s “superlative craftsmanship”… what is he good in? If he is superlative in something, doesn’t he need to be appreciated?

    I don’t even want to ask you about ‘essence of art’! 🙂

    #8 completely whizzed past over my head..

    #11 .. is because he is an obsessed fan. so are you or not anti-lakers? i think i am onto something here 🙂

  8. shuaib68   September 8, 2008 at 6:19 am

    Araj’s words are like a nuclear carpet bombing. First time I had the chance to face such a wonderful explanation on a “Simple” plagiarism matter that the bollywood guys are experts in. (Simple not for me/it’s for them, by the way)

    It’s amazing to find the same thought I was having for a long time about the name of Bollywood (“being a variant of Hollywood”) is better expressed.

    Command of the language is absolutely superior. Now, I feel terribly worried over the limitations of the english language with me.

    I also learned many things just by going through Araj’s onslaught. Well done, keep it up and give us more.

  9. vjcool   September 25, 2009 at 6:31 am

    great discussion and great points by araj, and I’m late by a year.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Yes, to all three points above. 😉

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