Copy Cat Films

I am an NRI, translated into: no-real Indian.  I follow Indian cinema in my quest to find only one million original films before humanity as we know it disappears.  I will use the term Indian cinema sparingly because I only have access to Hindi films, not Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati and other languages.

Films such as Dhoom 2 and Krrish make a pretty penny for producers, but they also widen the bridge we have to cross before reaching the goal of just one million original stories.  Producers are businessmen and will use any ploy to earn a fast buck, including capitalising on our weaknesses.  

Dhoom 2 is a case in point.  I bought the DVD despite the fact that I’m not a fan of special effects films.  I blame Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, whom I liked in Jodhaa Akbar.

What do Dhoom 2 and Pink Panther 2 have in common?  Aishwarya Rai. She is a thief in both movies but what is important is that Mumbai likes resurrecting Hollywood spy thrillers that are synonymous with actors like David Niven and James Bond actors. 

She is the master thief in the Pink Panther 2 and only steals rare antiquities just for the fun of it.  It is the same story line in Dhoom 2, as Bipasha Basu’s character explains to the top level investigation team assembled to catch the man who leaves the “A” symbol after every heist.  

Dhoom 2, director Sanjay Gadhvi
Sunheri (Aishwarya Rai) admires Aryan, the cross border thief (Hrithik Roshan) so much, she steals his signature ‘A” and leaves it after every job.  Aryan catches her one day.  She suggests that they work together. 

He refuses because he feels that nobody can betray him if he works alone.  Sunheri is a double agent of some sort because she was sent by policeman Jai Dixit (Abhishak Bachchan) to seduce Aryan.

Dhoom 2 and Once a Thief, director John Woo
John Woo, the Chinese director is one of the finest directors in the world.  A scene in Dhoom 2 seems to be a copy cat of Woo’s 1990 film Once a Thief, starring Cherie Chung, Yun Fat Chow and Leslie Chueng.

Their characters are orphans brought up by a thief.  They are now big time international thieves.  They are in Paris to steal a painting at the Louvre.  There’s a scene where Yun Fat Chow and Leslie Chueng negotiate a fence of electronic alarms guarding the painting they’ve come to steal.

They manage to avoid the deadly alarms through a series of complicated acrobatics.  Dhoom 2 has the same scene, where Aryan warns Sunheri in a museum, facing the same protection around a priceless sword.

Dhoom 2 and Kyun! Ho gaya na director, Samir Karnik
Dhoom Machale, the title song was extremely popular.  I first learnt about it in the film Salaam-e-Ishq, a very original film which is a bouquet of different stories.

Aishwarya Rai’s skimpy clothes and dancing like a black girl in an MTV video made headlines.  What didn’t was an almost similar scene she did in Kyun! Ho gaya na.  She is Diya in the film.  Vivek Oberoi is Arjun. 

Diya’s father tries to show her a photo of his friend’s son Arjun.  She refuses to look at it because she doesn’t want an arranged marriage.  He doesn’t know that Diya met the naughty Arjun in a train and fell in love with him.

There’s a scene where Arjun and Diya are dancing.  It later appeared in a Dhoom 2 in a scene with Hrithik Roshan.  The clothes and her moves are straight from an MTV video.  You need two DVD players to compare both scenes.  Kyun! Ho Gaya Na was released in 2004, Dhoom 2 in 2006.

Hollywood copies Hong Kong films
Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan are the stars of all the Rush Hour films, directed by Brett Ratner.  There is a scene in Rush Hour 2 that looks like it was lifted from the 1989 film God of Gamblers, directed by Jing Wong starring Yun Fat Chow and Andy Lau.

Andy Lau’s character runs away from the people he owes money.  He does complicated moves on a high wire using a bamboo pole.  Rush Hour 2 has the same scene.  Is it copying or cross pollination?  Producers are not into semantics.  If a scene from an earlier film worked, why not re-hash it in another one?

Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness the novel.


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