Manipuri Film World and Plagiarising Inspiration :: Part 2

Bobby Wahengbam *

A poster for 'Imagi Ningthem'

A poster for 'Imagi Ningthem''

The film, at its initial two weeks, was declared a big flop as audiences couldn't buy the new production style and changing of the ending was discussed among the creators. But from the third week onwards, it had become a phenomenon with quick adaptation of the people.

If it were today, when success of a film rests on the first two weeks, the film might have disappeared from the sight of the people. Or it could have faced the same fate as our own Mammi Sammi where it is the most watched and favoured Manipuri film in recent times but failed at the box office for one reason or the others including large scale piracy.

In the world of commercial film making, anything can happen. And in our case, scores of mediocre, without proper background, training and study, throng in to the small industry to try their luck equipped with borrowed ideas. Some clicked and some don't.

If one can skilfully hide the source, he is elevated as a genius as originality in the creative sphere itself is debatable. But the truth will surface sooner or later. And such films don't find space in the world of quality film production.

And most of the geniuses are influenced by something or the other but create a body of work which is unique of its own. Quentin Tarantino borrowed heavily from earlier forms but he intricately used it to make his own style and vocabulary putting an audacious stamp of his own.

Our own Pabung Syam and Satyajit Ray, were said to be heavily influenced by Italian Neorealism. The later learned lots personally from Jean Renoir. If Renoir had not come to Calcutta and Satyajit followed him to see him work and interact, the history of Indian parallel cinema could have been different.

He commented on the lesson of Renoir,
"To Renoir, there is nothing more important to a film than the emotional integrity of the human relationship it depicts. Technique is useful and necessary in so far as it contributes towards this integrity. Beyond that, it is generally intrusive and exhibitionist. In America, they worry too much about technique, and neglect the human aspect "(Ray Satyajit, 2010. Our Films Their Films; Orient Blackswan, Hyderabad , p. 118).

Yet again, when Renoir, Vittorio de Sica and neorealist films inspired Satyajit Ray, Pabung Syam and host of other film makers all over the globe, they did also get inspiration from others.

"Bicycle Thieves (1948) is a triumphant rediscovery of the fundamentals of cinema, De Sica has openly acknowledged his debt to Chaplin "(Ray Satyajit, 2010.p. 127).

From the about context it can be concluded that inspiration does not have negative implication but there is a thin line between 'inspiration' and 'plagiarism'. There are Hindi films which are copied from Hollywood, Korean, Thai and other movies. In the formative years of digital Manipuri cinema, direct copy seemed to be a habit for some directors. Slowly, they could carve originality as experience passes by. But confusion surfaced when copied one ran and the original work flopped.

Today, the talk of the town is that some of the popular films are assembled copying directly from various sources- Serials, Bollywood, South Indian Films, Music Videos, Korean Serials and many more. In the business of Commercial world, profit is the only prime concern. Big industries could not commit plagiarism much just because of copyright issue. Small industries such as ours, Hausa in Nigeria and many are spared of copyright problem because of limited market.

Inspired, copied or not, truly Manipuri films should look for aspects of our life, habit, speech, dress, manners, background, foreground in totality. And originality should distinguish a true Manipuri film from a borrowed one. It is unfortunate that many are advocating blurring the distinction.


* Bobby Wahengbam wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was webcasted on August 12 2015.


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