The KRITI Controversy: Accusations Of Plagiarism In Bollywood
Recently I watched and reviewed a cool little Bollywood short film called ‘Kriti‘. I praised the efforts of director Sirish Kunder for going against his previously established tone of filmmaking to create something dark and intense.
However, ‘Kriti‘ has now been marred with accusations of plagiarism from another filmmaker, tarnishing any the precedent of a good short film made by mainstream Bollywood makers.
I mentioned in my Review how I hoped that short films like ‘Kriti‘ by mainstream filmmakers involving commercial actors, would create a trend within the industry, allowing newer talent a platform to be discovered through. It could have even been an alternative to the studio or self financed model of filmmaking that Bollywood is currently standing on. Difficult to see that happening now though.
Recently, Nepalese filmmaker Aneel Neupane accused Sirish Kunder of completely stealing the entire story of ‘Kriti’ from his own film ‘Bob‘, on Facebook. The filmmaker has even taken action towards that end by filing suit against Kunder and his film. His heartfelt and almost helpless plea can be found below.
Since the controversy started, ‘Kriti‘ has been removed from the free video platform YouTube. The film, however, can still be seen on the streaming service Muvizz, who is also distributing the film. Kunder and his team though, have also filed notices against Neupane, and now ‘Bob’ has also been removed for ‘copyright infringement.’
Hope this settles the matter.
— Shirish Kunder (@ShirishKunder) June 24, 2016
Weirdly enough, Kunder and team’s defense has been that ‘Kriti‘ was shot in February 2016, while ‘Bob’ was released in May 12th, 2016 on Youtube. However, ‘Bob‘ was completed and uploaded to Vimeo from October 2015. Sure the video was private, but it’s not completely outside the realm of possibility that some of the people who saw the film, narrated it to someone else, eventually making their way to the Kunder camp?
In an interview with MidDay, director / choreographer and wife of Kunder, Farah Khan, provides even more puzzling explanations:
He was working on the idea when I was shooting for ‘Happy New Year’ (2014). Writing is a long process. He has so many scripts with him. He would keep bouncing off his ideas with Vishal Dadlani (music composer) and me. So, he has been working on the script for the last three years.
It seems a little far fetched that an 18 minute short film, takes three years to write. Feature films are conceptualized, produced and released in less time than that. This especially seems suspect when, according to IMDB, Kunder has been involved in no other projects since his last film ‘Joker‘ in 2012. As I mentioned in my own Review of the film, the premise isn’t even that original of an idea to have taken that long to write, plagiarism or otherwise.
The concept itself isn’t revolutionary or anything new. The mind-screw elements using a protagonist going through mental issues has been done many times.
— My Review of ‘Kriti‘
Copying movies has never been that big of an issue in Bollywood. So much so, that I’ve built an entire Podcast around the concept of Bollywood ‘remaking’ movies of other industries, most of the time without permission, or any legal right to do so. So the controversy isn’t new.
Even Kunder’s own film, his debut with ‘Jaan-E-Mann’, had scenes that seem eerily familiar to other Hollywood movies. The opening of the movie can be see as an homage to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, but other scenes have reminded people of movies like ‘Addicted To Love’ (1997) and ‘Roxanne’ (1989).
Kunder is the husband of Farah Khan, and has worked in the industry for years. So by all considerations, he can be considered a veteran of Bollywood. If they indeed did lift the story of ‘Kriti’ from a smaller filmmaker, it’s a pretty counterproductive to the growth of the industry. Especially considering that Kunder can be considered to be part of Bollywood, a far cry from ‘Bob’ filmmaker Neupane, who admits to having had financial trouble even making his movie.
As of now, both ‘Bob’ and ‘Kriti’ have been removed from YouTube, however, ‘Kriti’ can still be viewed at the site of the distributing company Muvizz.