Christopher McQuarrie once said what makes a movie now is a package, a brand, a remake or some pre-existing material. Little did he know that Hindi Cinema would turn this quite literally on its head.
The masters of horror- The Ramsay Brothers, who made some spine-chilling films in their illustrious career as filmmakers, meticulously understood the pulse of the audiences. Blending the intriguing narrative of their films with gaudy effects, outlandish acting and bathing them with ample doses of shocks and scares, they set the ball rolling for other directors in the future.
The genre was further elevated by one-a-maverick director, Ram Gopal Varma. With films like Raat (1991) and Bhoot (2003), Varma redefined fear and fright. Also in the bandwagon is Vikram Bhatt, who gave us Raaz in 2002. An amalgamation of hummable music and blood-curdling plot, it may not have been an illustrious film to come out of Bollywood, but made a respectable place for itself and turned into a sleeper-hit of that year.
Bhatt went on to make many such films in the similar space- 1920 (2008),Raaz-The Third Dimension (2012), Creature 3D (2014),Raaz Reboot (2016), but none could match up to the eminence of that Dino Morea-Bipasha Basu starer.
The one common notion that binds all the aforementioned horror films is the horror of plagiarism. The Exorcist (1973), considered as the greatest horror film ever made, still continues to inspire filmmakers across the world, particularly ours. There has always been a very thin line between inspiration and plagiarism, and Bollywood has seldom resorted to the latter and giving it the name of the former.
At least three scenes were lifted from The Exorcist in 1920-Evil Returns (2012), a sequel to 1920.
And as remakes have become a safe bet for our directors, they continue to peep into the West for inspiration. Back in 2003, Ekta Kapoor produced an entirely forgettable and terribly trashy film called Kucch To Hai, a remake of the 2001 thriller,I Know What You Did Last Summer. Vikram Bhatt’s only respectable film in the genre, Raaz, sourced its inspiration from What Lies Beneath.
And this week’s new Bollywood release, Dobara, is a remake of the 2015 classic,
Oculus. The question here is- When will we make a legitimate and an entirely original piece of cinema ? We have a bunch of some incredibly gifted minds in the business, how hard can it be for us to make a film that doesn’t look in the West to take the narrative forward !
It seems the horror of plagiarism is here to stay and haunt Bollywood for like, forever.