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Posts Tagged ‘plagiarism’

Of late, newspapers have devoted an inordinate amount of space to the Fox Studios suing the producers of Banda yeh Bindas Hai story, which they claim is a copy of My Cousin Vinnie. And while they were at it, they dredged up other such instances. Zeher, Ek Ajnabee, even Rang de Basanti joined the infamous list.

Really, I don’t what the whole fuss is about. I concede that some plots are ‘inspired’ from Hollywood projects, but those are minor transgressions. If you really think about it, isn’t it the other way around? Look at the latest Hollywood offerings. Almost all of them are superhero offerings.

Here are a few points to illustrate my claim:

  1. The hero single-handedly takes on the baddie kingpin and his evil henchmen;
  2. The hero, while not the richest or the best looking, gets the girl;
  3. The girl always gets kidnapped by the baddie towards the end, leading to the climax;
  4. The setting for the climax scene is a veritable death trap with movable floors with jaw-snapping and snarling crocs underneath, flip-over chairs, retractable walls, gas chambers, acid-filled cauldrons and what have you.
  5. Okay, no hero wears his chaddies over his pants in Hindi movies but have you seen Amitabh Bachchan in Desh Premi? And Mithun da in Agneepath? And while we’re on the subject of ridiculous styling, how can we forget Raj Kumar and Jeetendra with their white shoes? And Vinod Mehra with his shirts unbuttoned to the navel displaying an even inch thick layer of lush black carpeting?

And we’ve been doing since, like, forever. And then they say, Bollywood plagiarises from Hollywood. Really?

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For an author I get a woefully little amount of reading done. And that’s because I’m usually in the middle of writing a book. And when I’m writing I don’t read (not fiction anyway) for fear of getting influenced.

That means that the only time I get for reading is when I’m in-between novels or plotting one. Which happens to be now. Accordingly, I went out day before yesterday and picked up 5000 bucks worth of books. So now I’ve got 21 titles to be read within a month, preferably less. I’m proud to declare that I made a good start yesterday and finished 2 whole novels!

Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer – the dude is good! A little formulaic, but he’s the only one you can get you to compulsively turn the page on merely the promise of an intriguing question being asked by an unlikely figure at a public lecture – and the other one by Mary Higgins Clark. I hope to finish an Amy Tan today (I’ve never read her before) and a Wilbur Smith (or did I get a Ken Follett?).

When you read contemporary works from your genre, you always run the risk of getting influenced or, as Bollywood types love to say, ‘inspired.’ But that doesn’t mean that one stops reading altogether. What one can do, however, is following:

1. Try to plagiarise ideas instead of whole chunks of passages (remember how Opal Mehta got kissed…by wazzername?).

2. On the other hand, after the scandal broke, Opal got publicity like you woulnd’t believe. She actually ended up selling more. You can’t pay for that kind of publicity. Moreover, stealing just the idea cannot guarantee immunity. Just look at Stephanie Meyer. So to hell with that idea.

3. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of stealing. How much do I make in royalties vis-a-vis how much do I fork out in settling the claim? If the scales tilt in favour of royalties, go for it.

4. While you’re at it, try and steal it from bestsellers to make it easier to spot instances of plagiarism.

5. If you do happen to be a poor sod and lift from an unknown and obscure book, get a friend to blow the whistle on you.

6. If however, you must steal but the ensuing lawsuit could leave you shirtless, do it smartly and from many sources. As they say, steal from one place, it’s plagiarism, steal from many, it’s research.

7. If you must steal and rather obviously, go one up on potentially litigious authors and give them credit. You only have to look at the many ‘management’ and ‘self-help’ books on the shelves to know that this works.

8. Lastly, for God’s sake, don’t get caught with your hand in the cookie jar! Remember, it’s only stealing if you get caught.

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