Bollywood: The Film Ka Chor

Sitting in the blistering heat daily, it is natural to prioritize different means of staying cool. One of the primary means in which I accomplish this has been to attend movies on the weekend where it is almost too cold in the cinema halls. While going to see one particular film, The Avengers, I noticed a small stand outside the theatre selling DVDS. Of course, every single one of these films was pirated and there were police officers only twenty feet away. More shocking, however, was the fact that at the very front of the display was a copy of The Avengers, which I was just about to go see in the theatre.

I have often laughed and poked fun at the fact that intellectual property is generally not taken seriously in India.   While viewing a particular film earlier this year, Desi Boyz, a film that is not worth three hours of anyone’s life, I found it hysterical that it was essentially every Adam Sandler movie chopped up and blended together with a touch of masala. The reality, however, is the millions of dollars lost to the American and other film industries as a result of the blatant and purposeful plagiarism that takes place in Bollywood.

The lack of originality in films these days appears to be a worldwide phenomenon with remakes, sequels, and more. However, as Dale Carnegie states, human beings will justify even the most heinous acts (Carnegie, 167). I was curious to see how those in the Bollywood film industry were to defend their actions. In a conversation between film critic, Anupama Chopra, and a Hindi film director, she asked about the director’s artistic skill, of which he replied “my skill knows what to steal.” Others simply cite the original films as inspiring their own creative ideas within the industry. Regardless, the American film industry is increasingly taking notice and pressing action against their Indian counterparts. The result, however, does not always favor the original producers (Wax, 1).

In 2008 a lawsuit filed against Mirchi Movies Pvt. Ltd. by Warner Brothers was rejected despite the striking similarity between the former’s movie titles Hari Puttar and the latter’s famous Harry Potter. The case was dismissed on the grounds that the case was brought to court “at the last minute,”  appearing to be similar to the discovery rule in the United States in which perceived infringement must be reported within a certain time frame after discovery, and that readers of Harry Potter would understand the difference between the two films. Furthermore, Puttar means son in Punjabi and Hindi (BBC News, 1).  I am certainly not a lawyer and definitely not well versed in precedents established by the various Indian courts, but it appears that the fact that Bollywood is viewed all over the world, might lead to some confusion regarding the titles and an eventual loss to Warner Brothers and J.K. Rowling. I would like to say that I am optimistic about Hollywood having the ability to collect its deserved compensation for these films, but a precedent like this could lead to a halt in the progress of protecting intellectual property in the future within India’s borders.

Works Cited:

Carnegie , Dale . How to Win Friends and Influence People. New York : Pocket Books , 1936 . Print

“Warner Bros Lose Hari Puttar Case .” BBC News . (2008 ): 1. Web. 26 May. 2012. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7628948.stm>.

Wax , Emily . “Hollywood Finally Challenging India’s Booming Bollywood Over Knockoffs.”Washington Post . (2008 ): 1. Web. 26 May. 2012. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7628948.stm>.

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