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Thread: Creative rights v/s copyright
01-09-2010, 12:21 AM #1
Creative rights v/s copyright
I felt an eerie sense of déjà vu when the controversy over Chetan Bhagat’s contribution to 3 Idiots erupted. Chetan sardonically called it the
perfect new year entertainment. At exactly this time two years ago, another hurt and wounded man Amole Gupte had claimed a similar deprivation of his portion of fame in another Aamir neo-masterpiece Taare Zameen Par.
Why must such ungainly show-stoppers fall into the ambit of Aamir’s perfect creative joy? Is it because God, in all His wisdom, wants to remind Aamir that despite all evidence to the contrary, he is after all, human?
Off and on writers have come forward to complain about being denied credit. They are hardly ever heard. Gone are the days when Javed-Akhtar was heard, seen and feared. Today we have super-gifted writers like Abbas Tyrewala, Jaideep Sahni and Abhijat Joshi. But they don’t really mean much to the overall picture. You don’t need a competent screenplay writer to make a film. You need either the copyright or the right to copy a DVD. And a hero who knows how to run the show alongside if not ahead of the director. So rejoice, the year already has its first full-blown controversy.
2010’s first 70mm dolby-sound controversy has to do with a far more serious issue. It’s about creative rights, copyright, the relationship between cinema and literature and between the world of words and visuals. Just how much of Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone has gone into 3 Idiots? Is it negligible, as the film’s architects claim or substantial as Chetan claims? The truth, I’d say, is somewhere in-between. The film makes a marked and pointed departure from the novel. But not enough to call it an entirely independent screenplay. In fact, there are several elements straight out of the novel and put up there for all to see. Kareena’s father being the eccentric dean, brother’s suicide on the railway track, Sharman’s family life... all these are common to both, the novel and the film.
Where the two part ways is in Aamir Khan’s characterisation. Chetan’s Rancho and screenwriter Abhijat Joshi’s Rancho are totally different entities. That the character is played by Aamir should and must give a completely different moral spin and relevance to the debate on creativity. The man we are talking about is no ordinary star. Aamir Khan is today positioned at a place in the entertainment industry where he can actually make a difference to the way we look at cinematic entertainment. Unlike the other top actors who recently got into a budge over social-moral issues, and who can get away from any sense of social responsibility, Aamir cannot say he doesn’t know any better. Saying he didn’t read Chetan Bhagat’s book is not enough. Why would an actor with Aamir’s level of creative commitment and professionalism get into an adaptation without going to the original material?
Wait. Are they now saying that the film is not an adaptation? And who on this godforsaken planet was trying to deprive the very talented Abhijat Joshi of his rightful credits? There is a fine but very clear line of demarcation between the story and the screenplay. Chetan wrote the story. Abhijat wrote the screenplay. Got that? Now can we move on?
Watching the highly-respected producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra lose his temper on camera at a press conference was most incongruous when we place this ugly incident next to the fact that he’s a part of a team that has made cinema about making our social structure sturdier by providing laughter happiness and a sense of direction to the young. Sorry Mr Chopra, you can’t make life-changing films like Lage Raho Munnabhai and 3 Idiots and then ask people to shut up when they want to know why a young creative mind has been denied his share of fame.
When the same happens in the narrative of 3 Idiots the young heartbroken experimentalist hangs himself. Chetan Bhagat is made of much stronger stuff.