Friday, October 06, 2006

did your script get selected for the oscar library? get in line

The stench began with the "selection" of Parineeta's screenplay. The live-in labour of languor called Salaam Namaste (music review) and the boring Taxi No 9211 were next. This time we got even more misleading hints:

So far, only rare Bollywood films like Lagaan, Kal Ho Na Ho, Parineeta and Salaam Namaste have been able to find a place in the Oscar library.

The inclusion of 'Taxi Number 9211' in the library is an honour for its director Milan Luthria, writer Rajat Arora and producer Ramesh Sippy's Entertainment One.

Note the interesting use of the word rare. Note also the implications of honour.

Then we had another [1] disastrous rip-off of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels called Phir Hera Pheri (produced by the man with the most consistent remake run in Indian film history) that, when abbreviated, unfortunately shared the same name as a cool piece of technology with a left-recursive name. More honour was experienced.

And finally what might well be Bollywood's most hated profitable movie of all time, KANK (aka Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna aka pyaar na mujhase karatii ho / don't stay, go!), found more reason to coo from the rooftops:

Karan Johar who is currently in New York was extremely elated and overjoyed and considers this as a great acknowledgement of his work. Karan Johar has received mixed feedback towards his movie but feels that the script of KANK being acquired by Oscars Library is a victory for him as people are relating to the characters of the film.

It was a feat that Kal Ho Naa Ho had also pulled off, giving Karan Johar the incentive to do the Quick Gun Murugan strut.

What we're talking about, johns and janes, is how producers have begun to capitalise on the inclusion of scripts in the Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

That it wasn't a question of merit should have come as no surprise to people familiar with Bollywood. Have you forgotten the countless jokes about movies predicated on scripts that lay solely in the eyes of the beholder? Of films that merely served as agglomerations of visual reenactments of sequences from foreign movies? Of "original" compositions that originally came from elsewhere?

The library holds more than 32,000 books; 1,800 periodical titles; 60,000 screenplays; 200,000 clipping files; 30,000 posters; lobby cards, pressbooks and other advertising ephemera; over 8 million photographs; over 300 manuscript and other special collections relating to prominent industry individuals, studios and organizations; sheet music, music scores and sound recordings; production and costume sketches; artifacts; and oral histories.
Don't you find it strange that unoriginal screenplays including those of Ek Ajnabee (Man on Fire) and Taxi No. 9211 (Changing Lanes) are included in the library?

Old faithful Anurag Kashyap (last related post) provides the best note on the subject along with a slice of cynical lime:

There are no criteria. Any random script is selected for the library and it is sad. Somebody who has never gotten any attention gets excited when somebody looks at them. Even the biggies get so excited. Look at Karan Johar who was thrilled when KANK got selected in Hamburg. 10,000 films go to Hamburg every year. I think it is this excitement that is our own failing. They are all like frogs in a well and don't know what is happening outside.
The people at the library keep track of films that have a good opening and select them. Sometimes producers too put their script forward and take pride in their work no matter how bad it is.
Getting your script into the Oscar library is not a big deal the world over. It is only when a film gets selected for the Oscar library in India that it makes news.

On a slightly related note, flash back to the Mansoor Khan yawn-o-rama called Akele Hum Akele Tum. This was a film that merrily filched from Kramer vs. Kramer (primarily) with material for the milieu from A Star Is Born. The Hoffman/Streep starrer swept away Oscars for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Film and Best Adapted Screenplay. Back home, Khan's filch fry continued its plagiaristic pursuit by roping in Anu Malik for the musical numbers. Mr. Malik lived up to his reputation as an "inspired" music director. The crowning moment was the song sequence where we saw Rohit (Aamir Khan) forced to sell his composition dil meraa churaayaa kyo.n (note the strangely apt use of the word churaayaa) to an inferior yet successful music composer duo Amar (Harish Patel)-Kaushik (Shafi Inamdar). You had to be really daft not to notice the sly dig at Nadeem-Shravan. Well, as the song continues, we see the duo winning a Filmfare Award for this song while Aamir mopes away in poses of isolation photographed to make the audience go "aw!" (Triviamongers may note that Ayesha Jhulka makes a cameo as the presenter). Well, guess what, this friggin' song was a rip-off too -- of George Michael's Last Christmas. I challenge the Bollywood machine of the 21st century to come up with something to top this. In the meantime, I'll grab another slice of irony.

[1] The previous rip-off was the first half of a double dose of ennui called Plan that came from the Sanjay Gupta camp; the second half merrily "adapted" another flick called The Suicide Kings.

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