Over the decades, the Indian film industry has grown in new directions and constantly won new accolades. But there is one area in which neither Bollywood nor Tollywood have excelled. That’s not a difficult guess, partly because it is no secret. Instead of concentrating on themes and film plots which are exclusively their own, both Bollywood and Tollywood have – quite shamelessly – borrowed from Hollywood. Till today, the majority of the themes of Bollywood and Tollywood hit movies are taken from Hollywood movies. It would not be incorrect to say that most of the successful movies of Bollywood and Tollywood are Hollywood rip-offs.
Where does one begin listing these rip-offs ? The first movie in the rip-off sequence is ‘Bunty Aur Babli’ which was released in 2005. It had the same theme as that of the Hollywood movie ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ which was released in 1967. The story revolved round a boy and a girl who try to escape their small town life and start off on a journey of stealing things. The entire plot matches but the ending of the Indian film was that the duo were caught but were let go on the promise that they would stop stealing while Hollywood persisted with catching the duo red handed and killing them. ‘Partner’, which was released in 2007 took its theme from theHollywood movie ‘Hitch’ which was released in 2005. The story is all about a boy who is a matchmaker but his profession gets him in trouble when he falls in love with a widowed mother. And finally, after many misunderstandings he finally marries the girl. ‘Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu’, released in 2012 had the same theme as that of the Hollywood movie ‘What Happens In Vegas’ which was released in 2008.
Bollywood and Tollywood have been following this trend without any qualms for a long time now and judging by the success of the movies with Hollywood themes, this trend is going to be around for some time more. But this raises
several important questions.
The theme involves a boy and a girl who have too many drinks at the club and finally end up getting married. But both regret their mistake next morning and try to end their marriage but the judge gives them time to think over it. The couple, after many hiccups and jinks, finally end up with the decision to remain married. ‘Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai’, released in 2002 had the theme of the Hollywood movie ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding.’ The theme in the Bollywood smash hit was that a boy gets to know about his friend’s marriage but he realises that he too loves the girl and so he decides to ruin her marriage. The Hollywood theme has a gender flip where a girl tries to ruin the marriage of a boy. ‘Aisha’, released in 2010 had the same theme as that of the Hollywood movie ‘Clueless’ which was released in 1995. The theme revolves around a girl who is very popular and likes to play the role of a matchmaker with her friends. She falls in love with a boy but in the process of ‘getting’ the boy she loses her temperament and starts behaving abruptly with her friends but later she realises that she needs to apologise to her friends for her misbehaviour and then ‘gets’ the boy as well. ‘Hum Tum’, released in 2004 had the same theme as that of the Hollywood movie ‘When Harry Met Sally’ which was released 1989. The story is woven round a boy and a girl who one fine day have a conversation as to whether a boy and a girl can be together without sex. And then after a few years they meet up again and plan to match each other with their best friends, but on the contrary their best friends get married to each other. They decide to give a try with their relationship and sleep together and after many guilt confessions and awkward situations both fall in love. There are many more examples.
Bollywood and Tollywood have been following this trend without any qualms for a long time now and judging by the success of the movies with Hollywood themes, this trend is going to be around for some time more. But this raises several important questions. In an industry which is otherwise so creative, prolific and full of talent, are the directors, producers, writers and other stalwarts of the industry incapable of producing or writing new, original themes which could also pull crowds to the cinema halls and multiplexes? Surely they can come up with innovative and skilful new themes for Bollywood and Tollywood movies instead of being copycats. When and if that happens, it just may be that it will be Hollywood which will be looking at Bollywood and Tollywood for new themes.