What to Read Next

India's Oscars entry draws copycat flak

Rachel O'Brien
28 September 2012
"Barfi" starsstars Priyanka Chopra (left) and Ranbir Kapoor (right), with celebrity Madhuri Dixit
Indian Bollywood actors Priyanka Chopra (left) and Ranbir Kapoor (right) pull on the arms of celebrity Madhuri Dixit during a promotion for their new film “Barfi” in Mumbai on September 12. The film, India's entry for best foreign language film at next year's Oscars, has become the latest Bollywood movie to draw flak for allegedly plagiarising foreign hits in a 'mash-up' of ripped-off scenes

India's entry for best foreign language film at next year's Oscars has become the latest Bollywood movie to draw flak for allegedly plagiarising foreign hits in a 'mash-up' of ripped-off scenes.

"Barfi!" has won over critics and cinema-goers for its portrayal of a love triangle between a deaf man named Barfi and two women, one of whom is autistic -- not typical subject matter in the prolific Hindi-language film industry.

But since its release two weeks ago, several videos have spread through YouTube and social media sites highlighting a number of scenes that appear to draw heavily from international classics.

Film buffs spotted stark resemblances with clips from Gene Kelly's hit "Singin' in the Rain" (1952), Jackie Chan's "Project A" (1983), Buster Keaton's "Cops" (1922) and "The Notebook" (2004) starring Ryan Gosling among others.

The plot has been likened to "Benny & Joon", the 1993 film starring Johnny Depp, while the soundtrack has drawn further comparisons with the musical score from "Amelie", the 2001 hit starring Audrey Tautou.

One of the clearest sources of inspiration is Charlie Chaplin: one scene shows Barfi dodging a policeman through a sliding door, just as the king of silent film did in 1917's "The Adventurer".

"Barfi!" director Anurag Basu has hit back at critics, saying the film is intentionally paying homage to Chaplin in a similar way to "The Artist", the black-and-white silent film that won Best Picture at this year's Oscars.

"If I would have changed the shot, twisted things around and made it my own it would have been stealing," Basu told the Indian TV show Headlines Today.

"I did shot-to-shot because they are famous iconic shots and scenes from famous masterpieces, every filmmaker knows them."

Bollywood has come under fire before for remaking Hollywood flicks in the Hindi language, but "Barfi!" is under particular scrutiny because the movie-mad country is yet to win an Oscar in the foreign film category.

"So why would an Oscar jury pick a movie that reminds them of the very many movies they've seen before -- and which include films that are now Hollywood legend?" asked online magazine Firstpost.

In one of several earlier Bollywood copycat rows, US studio 20th Century Fox submitted a $1.4-million claim in 2009 against BR Films over "Banda Yeh Bindaas Hai", alleging it was an illegal remake of "My Cousin Vinny". The case was settled out of court.

Image consultant Dilip Cherian worried that entering "Barfi!" into the Oscars could cause embarrassment for India in the long-run.

"The fact is that critics will start wondering at which stage does plagiarism end in Indian movies and at what stage is it inspiration," he told Headlines Today.

Only three Indians films have been shortlisted in the foreign film category at the Oscars: "Mother India" in 1958, "Salaam Bombay!" (Hello Bombay!) in 1989, and "Lagaan" (Land Tax) in 2002.

Manju Borah, who chairs India's selection committee, defended the latest choice.

"We selected 'Barfi!' because of its treatment and freshness," she told the Hindustan Times. "In any case, every filmmaker is inspired by some cinema."

Film critic and curator Meenakshi Shedde said an "affectionate tribute" to world cinema, such as "Barfi!", was not the same as stealing someone's ideas -- but she doubted for other reasons whether the film was the best selection.

"The criteria the Oscars look for is something uniquely Indian. Something that offers insights into the culture or society," Shedde told AFP.

Should This Insane Flashlight Be Banned To Public?

'Worlds Brightest' military grade flashlight now available to public! You won't believe the specs on this tactical flashlight released to the public.

12 Surprising Exercises Celebs Do But You Don't

You should do these exercises if you want to improve your lower body! One thing is clear: you won't get the butt you want sitting on the one you have.

X800 Millitary Tactical Flashlight

Get 75% Off World's Coolest and Brightest Flashlight. Check it Out Today!

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This

If you're not saving $4,200 a year with the new refinance plan, you're not keeping up. See the 2015 mortgage plan banks don't want you knowing.

11 Things That 90s Kids Are Just Now Realizing

Ah, that takes me back.

G700 Millitary Tactical Flashlight

Get 75% Off World's Coolest and Brightest Flashlight. Check it Out Today!

Finally, a snoring fix that beats CPAP

Snoring causes headaches, high blood pressure and fatigue. Each leads to something more serious. Here's a simple SOLUTION to a very serious problem.

Golfers: Hit Straight Every Time

12-Time PGA Winner Shows You How to Hit Longer, Straighter, More Accurately,_

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage

Before you pay your next mortgage payment, you need to read this: The ingenious way to pay off your mortgage.

21 Signs You Might Have Cancer

Know these warning signs. The earlier you catch cancer, the better your chances of survival.

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This

There's new Government Refi plan your bank doesn't want you to know. Pay off your mortgage & rid yourself of high payments. Learn More

12 U.S. Cities Worth A Vacation To

No need to spend a small fortune on that grand European getaway, as you can find some of the best vacation spots in the world right here at home.

Home Equity vs Refinance, which is the best for u?

Reverse mortgages pays you to continue living in your home. Learn everything you have to know about what Reverse Mortgage offers you and your family!

Dramatically Improve Your Short Game

Hit Quality Shots Closer To The Hole, Every Single Time GUARANTEED!