The Anurag Basu film was as India’s official entry to the Academy Awards 2013, despite the fact that Pan Singh Tomar and GOW released in the same year.
Barfi! was ‘our’ official entry and “artistic insight” of the Indian film industry to the Foreign Language Film category for the 85th Academy Awards, this year. To be chosen by the distinguished jury, as a specimen of great work done by the paramount film makers in our country was no mean accomplishment, by any means.
After watching the movie on 70mm for the first time, I was enthralled by the creative insight of the filmmaker who chose such an intrepid and mundane subject considering the standards of ‘Bollywood’.
It seemed to be a perfect “tablet of comfort” that could be dished out to a movie ticket buyer, craving for some creative cinema, in a long time. It could be described as a radical walk in the Indian contemporary cinema (full of masala flicks) that could be compared to some extent, on the creativity index, with the French and Iranian works.
Alas! The dreams were shattered when it could not find a place along with 71 others in the second round of screening, few days back. The movie lost the pursuit as soon as it begun.
What exactly went wrong?
In simple words, everything!
As soon as the movie was released, a clamor was created on the YouTube. The videos went viral depicting an exact simulation and replication of the scenes from the International Classics ranging from Gene Kelly’s hit Singin’ in the Rain (1952) to Jackie Chan’s Project A (1983).
Buster Keaton’s Cops (1922) and The Notebook (2004) starring Ryan Gosling were the other works that inspired Basu. The plot was created on the same groundwork as Benny and Joon, the 1993 film starring Johnny Depp, while the soundtrack drew further association with the musical score from Amelie; the 2001 hit starring Audrey Tautou.
And resemblances with Charlie Chaplin’s work throughout the movie: one scene shows Barfi(the protagonist in the movie) evading a policeman through a sliding door, just as the emperor of silent cinema did in 1917’s The Adventurer, with no clear acknowledgement to the inventive source (though, denied by Anurag Basu for quite a time after the official release).
Even one of the persistent musical themes in Barfi was cluttered together by Pritam (ever criticized for his “beg borrow steal” attitude) from two tunes composed by Yann Tiersen that were used in Amelie (2001).
To confront the criticism of plagiarism, discomfited filmmaker shielded his position clarifying “he would have done injustice to the original source had he twisted and remodeled scenes for his movie which he didn’t and he in the way showcased his respect and integrity for the original basis,” a much shameful cover up by the film maker.
The rushed and immature way adopted by the jurymen , in adjudging the movie to be a true representation of the Indian artistic cinema this year( just after a week of its release on the big screen ) at the Oscars, further stumped the movie buffs and critics.
And the jury chose Barfi over Milan Luthria’s Dirty Picture, Rajan Khosa’s Gattu, Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Paan Singh Tomar, Umesh Kulkarni’s Deool, Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahani, Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur Part I and II, Gurvinder Singh’s Anhey Ghore da Daan.
The damage is done. This is not the first time India experiences embarrassment at the international arena courtesy it’s pro-plagiarism and pro-bootlegging film makers.
The pain is India cannot produce an original Oscar award winning film (we want it dearly even how much we resent the idea) for years now even with all the conveniences and acquaintance and the biggest producer of films in the whole world when conservative nations like Iran could, withstanding all odds.
Have we really lost the plot in the “100 crore” box office collection movie mantra of today or are we in actuality below par when it comes to an original work?
Hope we get the answers before it is too long. Till then, enjoy your barfis and ladoos dessert after a typical Bollywood movie feast.
Soon, we will hear news that Dabbangg 2 too breaches 100 Crore mark at the Box Office. Why not send Dabbangg 2 as our official entry next year?
Salman’s magic might work at the Oscars too!