Film Education

Plagiarism, Inspiration and Beyond

Plagiarism , Inspiration and Beyond

By Oorvazi Irani

‘Looking Within’

None of us artists are pure or not guilty of this crime in small ways and big but we need to strive to be original.

Creativity and originality are two of the biggest challenges for an artist. And consciously or subconsciously we are all copying from the past from  film, literature, paintings etc. Therefore one way to help escape this is being inspired by life – the need to look within and into our own lives. Be inspired by observing life first hand rather than sit back on a chair and soak in the observations of others.

But having said that if a great artist has moved us there is no harm paying homage to the work but we need to be able to take it to another level or make it our own. And if the tribute is very strong the source needs to be acknowledged.

Sometimes  our society pushes us to imitate, to plagiarize, eg a local fashion magazine has an international standard it wants to meet and be assured of success,  thus is not interested in originality, but imitating a successful photographer, his image that can guarantee success.  The new local fashion photographer is told to imitate that international standard image and not urged to be original. The film industry wants a success formula and its industry sometimes pushes the filmmaker to play safe and imitate successful moments rather than create them, but the artist and his conscience will not be spared. The current film “Barfi” (directed by Anurag Basu and produced by UTV) is being sent to the Oscars as an Indian nomination is a case in point.

Each artist needs to try and find means by which he accesses his imagination and creativity to be original. Surrealism as one art movement started in the 1920’s, besides being a revolt also encouraged the artist to a more primal source of inspiration – our subconscious, and a realm beyond logic and rationality. This technique is still used by creative artists today to help them find a voice of their own.

How to be truly original – the search continues for each artist and infact each human being. To make an invention, a breakthrough, atleast strive for excellence and we will be closer to living a more authentic life and create a more authentic world.  Those are moments of inspiration which we need to strive for rather than take the easy route.



10 Comments so far
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Nice writing and a very balanced view. Can only come from a person who has gone through the process of creating something truly original and understands how tough it is to find your own voice. Reminded of two random quotes:
1. Newton acknowledging how everything we do is built upon the work of those in the past, “If I have seen further, it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants”.
2. A sheepish rationalization by a music director who copies blatantly (I think this was used in some movie)..”ab kyaa karein sir!! Sur to saat hi hai naa”

Comment by Jayesh Kapoor

lovely to hear from you and the two quotes are indeed beautifully put and lie at the two opposing spectrum of creativity

Comment by oorvazi

Well said and so true!

Comment by Sorab Irani

Dad, thanks so much and lots of love

Comment by oorvazi

Nice article. Looking at my own life i can recall that i have been creative at times and also have applied shortcuts [plagiarize]. Those aspects which were outcome or creativity are always cherished and remain fresh. Wondering how you can get away with the guilt of plagiarism and that to when you represent a nation.

Comment by Harish Mallya

Thankyou so much for sharing your experience as a creative individual, deeply appreciate it. Yes there is a great joy in an original creation and we should strive for that, its a satisfaction that no money or fame can give, its beyond the worldly pleasures and takes you beyond.

Comment by oorvazi

Yes inspiration and not plagiarism, is exactly my thought. Many people have cited that a lot of Hollywood films have been plagiarized from other works in world cinema, so whats wrong if an Indian film does the same. But since when has Hollywood become a role model that we can follow and be proud of. Besides there have been original works in Hollywood as well, films that will live through the ages.

Very well written. You argued your point commendably 🙂

Comment by Riddhiman Basu

Thankyou for your continued support and kind words.
Yes Hollywood is no standard, but having said that they are not so blatant as we arethey take more pains to make a film I feel sometimes, besides the total nonsense formula films. The work of an artist is not easy and its all about integrity, like in any field but i would say here its even more important. But the lines blur and commerce takes over sometimes where ethics, originality are not valued what is valued is money. Intellectual propriety rights are taken very lightly in India.

Comment by oorvazi

Is plagiarism a measure of success of an idea? Why is it forgotten while the copy succeeds? Sholay is also a mish-mash of famous westerns copied from the original Kuroswa’s Seven Samurai. But it was adapted and made relevant, so it was ‘inspired’. Barfi has blatantly copied ‘scenes’ (door, ladder etc).How does one justify that?

Comment by Indu Raman

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.
Absolutely I agree that this is the easy way out and cannot be justified and there is a difference between plagiarism and inspiration. A filmmaker needs to be more sincere with his work and it cannot be justified in so many instances, its not only Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton but other films which are randomly copied all throughout the film.

Comment by oorvazi

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