CHENNAI: Here's a development that India's second largest film industry- Kollywood- cannot take pride in. All five Tamil films - including top grossers in the state- that were competing to become India's official entry to the Oscars, were rejected outright for being 'copycats'. While some of these films had storylines directly lifted from popular Hollywood flicks, some were found to be a mishmash of several English films.
With the release of the Cheran-Prasanna starrer 'Muran' on Friday, it has become apparent that not a few but all Tamil films nominated lost out on originality. Muran’s storyline has been found to be directly taken from a 1951 Alfred Hitchcock flick 'Strangers on a Train'. Five Tamil films - 'Deivathirumagal', 'Ko', 'Endhiran', 'Muran' and 'Aadukalam' — featured among the 16 Indian films nominated to the jury for the Academy Awards.
A jury-member, on condition of anonymity, told City Express on Tuesday that though 'Endhiran' had been seen as a forerunner for the nomination owing to its technical finesse, many jury members pointed that the film had scenes similar to those from not one, but four English films. 'Guzaarish' in Hindi was also a close contender until the jury members from North India said it featured scenes inspired from a Hollywood flick.
Likewise, 'Ko' — featuring Jiiva and Karthika- an action film which is among the top grossers of this year- was rejected by jury members who pointed that the film’s outline seemed inspired by the 2009-political thriller 'State of Play'. 'Aadukalam', which had swept the National Awards for 2010 winning in six categories, could not be considered an original script entirely and the filmmaker Vetrimaaran graciously acknowledges 'Cache', 'Babel', 'Amores Perros', 'Thevar Magan', 'Virumandi' and 'Paruthi Veeran' as films that inspired him to make the Dhanush-starrer, the jury-member reasoned.
Critics have, however, claimed the film was original. The jury members were chosen from across the country and included award-winning members of the film fraternity like editor B Lenin, Gangai Amaran, Ranjan Abraham, Raj Dutt and Raja Sen.
Speaking at an event organised recently to announce Malayalam film 'Adaminte Makan Abu' as India’s official entry to the Oscars, AS Prakasham, one of the 14-jury members, stated that many of the 16 nominated films could not be considered for the top slot as they featured scenes inspired or copied from Hollywood films. “We cannot select such inspired films in the Indian nomination category (For Best Foreign Film) and show it to an audience steeped in Hollywood films as our work,” he said.
Significantly, it is the film’s producer who nominates his film to the jury of the Film Federation of India by paying Rs 50,000 per entry. “While the producers are aware that their movies do not feature original content, they are still nominated because if the movie does become India’s official entry, it becomes a big branding for the filmmaker and producer,” said a jury member.