Plagiarism 2.0 – From Email Fwd to Full-length film

I guess this end of the blogosphere now knows all about the Lavanya Mohan – Charukesh Sekar story. Poor Lavanya, down with Charukesh and Vichar Hari yada yada. I’m surprised only one person has yet accused Lavanya of having her story ‘inspired’ from this Goodness Gracious Me sketch. J’Accuse! Make that count two. And KrishAshok saar, she need not have gone back and forth in time to view a video and write her story as you said, she could have just logged on to Youtube. I’m not saying she did or she didn’t. I’m just presenting the possibility. Of course, the possibility exists that she, like Kaavya Viswanathan, can cite Cryptomnesia.

But this case does bring up the issues of credit on the Net, non-attribution, and how easy it is to plagiarize. How easy it is to pass some story off as yours. And the prospect of seeing someone else reap the fruits of your hard work if you aren’t as popular or well-connected as Lavanya is.

A week back, I was wiki’ing for the storyline of Mumbai Salsa. There’s an American actress in that movie, Linda Arsenio. Click. Turns out she’s made quite a name for herself in Bollywood. She recently starred in the movie Aloo Chaat, alongside Aftab Shivdasani, Aamna Sharif, Kulbhushan Kharbanda. Click.

And the story read oh-so-so-so-familiar!

No, it wasn’t a rich-girl-poor-boy story.

But it was the same story as I’d received in an email fwd in December 2008. And this movie released only in June 2009. And it seems pretty popular on the Net, right from 2006. Here you go, link to the story, link to the story of Aloo Chaat. Decide for yourself.

The identity of the author seems lost to the recesses of time. But whoever you are, this is to inform you that you have been plagiarized. Sue ’em for all it’s worth. Or atleast milk the publicity.

Of course, the chance is nonzero that the scriptwriter himself comes forward to say the story was originally his, and that he put it on the Internet circa 2004….

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
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6 Responses to Plagiarism 2.0 – From Email Fwd to Full-length film

  1. krishashok says:

    Saw the video. Conceptually I think the theme of boy explaining his homosexuality to his parents is even older than this. Lavanya’s version focusses less on how the parents deal with the culture shock and more on the humour value in exploring how Tambram wedding rituals can be customized to suit gay marriage. Charukesh, on the other hand, used her script verbatim with no adaptation, and no credit.

    • Tuna Fish says:

      Saar, you say picking bits and pieces, here and there and making a collage is plagiarism of a lesser kind? If that is the case, we are going to end up with movies, and works of art of the Aamir Khan kind. Im afraid, that is going to make originality suffer. If the mainstream suffers, originality becomes alternative, visible only to the few who choose to explore, while taking a toll on the creative ones.

    • wanderlust says:

      I’m not comparing this stroke of possible inspiration with that instance of blatant plagiarism.

      i guess the punchline in both the video as well as the post are the same. That’s a bit more specific than just the concept.
      does that amount to plagiarism? or non-originality of ideas? was bob dylan a genius musician or a cheap plagiarist? Most of his tracks are his renditions of old american folk songs. How do you classify that? How about copyrighting of “Happy Birthday To You”?
      I sought to write about these things, but instead got sidetracked into bolly plagiarism.

      various stories get adapted into different cultures. the Ramayana is probably told in a different way in Indonesia. Alladin, Cinderella, Snow White, Santa Claus all have different versions of their stories floating about. I’m not saying embellishing an existing story is bad. It’s quite desirable, bringing in different ideas into different contexts.
      But the whole mob mentality and outburst that accompanied the incident had people say random indiscriminate stuff. For instance, I don’t get the outburst against the filmmmaker. He did credit the guy who he thought had written the story. and the whole libel/slander thing… cmon, if someone was calling me names on their blog, i’d certainly sue too!
      I assumed any sane person would be overwhelmed by the mob frenzy and turn contrarian, I mean, you’ve got to hate the leader. You simply must. You don’t find too many Windows fanboys, do you. C’mon, this was too good to pass. The irony in such a situation is not easily replicable.

      going by your thing about Lavanya’s version… would you say that Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code are two completely different stories (which anyone reading them would not really agree) because one is about the church and physics and the other is about the holy grail? I took a Henry Cecil story about a married couple and adapted it in an Indian college context and lots of detailing about Carnatic Music…. what do you call that?

      I take an essay about My Cow and replace every instance of Cow with Teacher and claim that they are totally different because one is about a cow and another is about a Teacher…

      I think i’m stretching it too far. I need to sleep. Apologies if any offenses have been made. No lynch mobs please.

    • wanderlust says:

      As for plagiarism, like someone said, there are only two stories in this world – 1. A stranger comes to town 2. Somebody goes on a journey.
      And if you want to go by Mahesh Bhatt, there are only seven stories in this world.

  2. krishashok says:

    It’s not even about picking bits and pieces. Dylan’s style of singing was definitely not original. In fact, even prior to him, the entire Rock’n’roll era was built heavily on top of Delta blues, that came from slaves in the south. What I’m trying to say is that Lavanya’s blog post only shares the premise with this video, not the content, or the cultural context, both of which are entirely different. You raise some very valid points about copyright and plagiarism in general, and there are no simple answers. I suppose we’ll have to stumble our way through this era of infinite creativity and expression online.

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