Since time immemorial, the malaise of plagiarism is very prevalent in Indian Film Industry especially in Bollywood. We have more than often seen directors (read Sanjay Gupta, Mahesh Bhatt etc amongst others) stealing films frame by frame and passing off as their own. However certain minor changes are made in the script. So that when their theft becomes public, they can defend themselves by saying that the particular film is inspired not copied. And they have those minor changes to defend their (false) claims.
However there also have been times when the director has truly taken an inspiration from a certain film and has made an effort to make a film that is quite different from that respective film. Here’s looking at some films that fit the above mentioned description.
Dombivili Fast/ Falling Down
Falling Down directed by Joel Schumacher features Michael Douglas as an ordinary American citizen who, frustrated with the flawed system sets out to violently fight the same only to end up as an anti hero
Similarly Dombivli Fast directed by Nishikant Kamath tells the story of Madhav Apte played by Sandeep Kulkarni who plays an average Mumbaikar. Frustrated with the problems faced in his day to day life such as corruption, bribery etc. He sets out to fight the same only to meet with a tragic fate.
Though the basic plotline of the film is similar to Falling Down, Kamat has taken enough care to make adequate changes in the script. By tackling issues such as bribery, corruption, water scarcity, pathetic conditions of people travelling in local trains etc. the film becomes much more identifiable and identifiable with the Indian audiences especially those living in Mumbai. And for this reason alone, this film deserves to find a mention in this post.
Nishikant Kamath even went on to remake Dombivli Fast as Evano Oruvan in Tamil with R.Madhavan in the lead.
Kaminey/ True Romance and Snatch
In the film Kaminey, director Vishal Bharadwaj (VB) borrowed subplots from films such as Snatch and True Romance and made a nice amalgamation of it.A couple (Shahid Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra) while trying to elope get stuck in a drug racket involving a stolen consignment of drugs. This was very similar to the situation faced by the lead pair in the Tarantino written movie ‘True Romance’ directed by the late Tony Scott. The couple is being pursued by a dozen odd shady characters who want to lay their hands on that particular consignment of drugs. The situation is somewhat similar to the dozen odd shady characters that are in pursuit of the stolen diamond in Snatch.
However VB adds another unique subplot of a pair of twins (Shahid Kapur and Shahid Kapur) who hate each other but have to depend upon each other to save their lives during their worst crisis. Vishal Bharadwaj nicely mixed all the three subplots to give us one hell of an entertaining movie. Despite taking inspiration from the above mentioned movies, Kaminey stands out as a unique and well made film. That is due to the fact that VB has taken care to make in the film in his own style rather than copying Snatch or True Romance blindly. This is why one doesn’t see flashy editing patterns like those used by Guy Ritchie in Snatch. Although unlike Bharadwaj’s earlier films, Kaminey bears a much more stylish and slick look. Apart from extracting a brilliant performance from Shahid Kapoor, the writing of Vishal Bharadwaj and team results in a dozen odd memorable characters that stay with you even after the movie has ended. Such as Bhope Bhau (Amole Gupte), Sweety (Priyanka Chopra),Mikhail(Chandan Roy Sanyal), Inpsectors Lele (Hrishikesh Joshi) & Lobo (Shiv Subramaniam) amongst others.
Chachi 420/Mrs Doubtfire
Mrs Doubtfire featured the versatile Robin Williams as a divorced parent who disguises himself as a female housekeeper so that he can get to spend time with his children who are staying with his ex-wife.
Similarly Chachi 420 featured Kamal Hassan as a divorced father who disguises himself as an elderly female caretaker so that he can spend time with his daughter who stays with his now ex-wife played by Tabu.
However Kamal Hassan has added enough subplots and masala that helps the film to acquire a local flavor and also adds to the overall comic moments of the film. The film nicely shows the relationship being developed between Tabu and Kamal Hassan prior to them getting married. The film also featured quite a few versatile actors who featured in some superb roles such as Amrish Puri – the arrogant father in law of Kamal Hassan , his lecherous assistant played by Om Puri and Paresh Rawal as Kamal Hassan’s shrewd landlord amongst others. These characters were not present in Mrs. Doubtfire. Moreover Kamal Hasaan has nicely weaved these characters in the main story and hence their subplots don’t stick out as sore thumbs in the movie. In fact it only adds to the fun quotient of the film. And this shows the amount of hardwork Kamal Hassan and his team have put in the film. This results in the film turning out to be a tad better than Mrs. Doubtfire.
Before directing Chachi 420 in Hindi, Kamal had starred in Avvai Shanmughi a Tamil version of the same film directed by K.S Ravikumar (Dashavatharam)
City on fire/Reservoir Dogs
City on Fire directed by Ringo Lam features Chow Yun Fat as an undercover cop who infiltrates a gang of robbers who are planning to carry out a jewellery store heist. Quentin Tarantino used the same storyline in Reservoir Dogs and made an entirely different film.
City on Fire focused more on the moral dilemma and test of loyalty faced by the undercover cop. Whereas the entire conflict in Reservoir Dogs is focused on the identity of the undercover cop which is unknown to the audiences till the end. And what you get is a kickass film which etched Tarantino’s name permanently in the minds of moviegoers.
Munnabhai MBBS/Patch Adams
Patch Adams tells the true story of Hunter Doherty who is a doctor and a social activist apart from doing many other tactivities. Robin Williams plays the role of Doherty who used many unconventional methods (including making them laugh ) to cure his patients which found a lot of criticism from the medical fraternity. Raju Hirani used this as one of the many subplots in the endearing Munnabhai MBBS in which a gangster (Sanjay Dutt) vows to become a doctor to avenge the insult his parents endure at the hands of an egoistic dean of a medical college (Boman Irani).
The cult film by Christopher Nolan tells the story of a person suffering from short term memory loss (Guy Pearce) who uses his body tattoos and notes to hunt down the killer of his wife. Director A.R Murugadoss used the same storyline and made Ghajini adding a lot of elements such as love story between the protagonist and his wife, action etc thereby making a complete a masala entertainer.
I also wanted to include Dasvidaniya in which a terminally ill Vinay Pathak makes a wish list of things he wants to do much like Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman from The Bucket List. But apart from the basic plotline( which could be a mere co-incidence) I didn’t find any similarity between the two films hence I refrained from mentioning the same in the post.
It would be good to hear from you all about some more films which could have been added to the list.