Agneepath director: Barfi! isn't copied, it's a tribute
Although Anurag Basu's Barfi! received a great press and encouraging box-office response, less than flattering secrets soon began tumbling out of Basu's closet.
Several bloggers have uploaded clips that clearly indicate that Basu's film is anything but original -- something the film boasted it was.
Scenes have not only been plucked from Charlie Chaplin films, but also from Hollywood Westerns and classics such as Buster Keaton's Cops, Singing in the Rain, the Japanese film Kikijiro and the most obvious emulation from The Notebook.
There is intense debate on social media sites about whether these sources should have been acknowledged. There are accusations that viewers are being manipulated by passing the borrowed creativity as original.
Online critics say Anurag Basu's past endeavours have been proved to be taken from other films.
Some say Barfi! is nothing but a beautiful assortment of cleverly picked slapstick from world cinema and presented as an Awwww-inspiring love triangle between disabled characters.
Image: A scene from Barfi!
'How does it matter at all that the scenes were lifted?'
Karan Malhotra, who directed the January blockbuster Agneepath, a remake of Mukul Anand's film starring Amitabh Bachchan, doesn't agree.
''Look, I didn't know that the scenes were lifted from another source so how does it matter at all? Did you know they were?
"It is a fabulous film and will remain so despite whatever they accuse it to be. You say it is copied but there is also an art involved in copying because we see a hundred films every day that are cheap emulations of a superior product.
"I don't think the scenes that you are talking about took anything away from my cinematic experience of Barfi!. And I can't think why it should -- to you or the people who patronise the film.
Image: A scene from Barfi!. Inset: Karan Malhotra
'Even Oscar-nominated Lagaan was inspired from Naya Daur
"You have to take into account the motive of the maker. The film is made with a lot of love and that reflects in the film's visual flair. And when a film is made out of such love, it is not plagiarism, it is a tribute," Malhotra says.
So, where does one draw the line between tribute and blatant stealing posing as a tribute?
''All I can say is that I enjoyed the experience of Barfi! and as a viewer that's what matters.''
Malhotra says not all ideas are original and even a film like the Oscar-nominated Lagaan was inspired by Dilip Kumar's Naya Daur.
''So now does that make Lagaan any less great a film?'' he questions, insisting that there are only four or five ideas that can be played around with.
His own film Agneepath, produced by Karan Johar's Dharma Productions, was both a critical and commercial success, but it wasn't considered good enough to be even considered as India's entry for the Oscars.
Image: A scene from Batfi!
'I think Gangs Of Wasseypur 1 was terrific'
''I'm not sad at all that my film wasn't nominated for the Oscars because we didn't make our film keeping the Oscars in mind.
"Agneepath was my first film. I did make it with a lot of ambition but the Oscars are a little far-fetched for a debutante," the director says.
"We were very happy with the box office as it was an expensive film. The favourable critical reception was the icing on the cake."
Which film does he think would have been a better contender for the Academy awards than Barfi!?
''I think Gangs Of Wasseypur 1 was terrifically made. It was something very rural and new for Indian audiences. I can't tell if it stood a better chance than Barfi!; that is for the fraternity to decide.''
Image: A scene from Gangs Of Wasseypur