Do Ankhe Barah Hath


Satyajeet Ray


Q & A (Vikas Swarup)


From Film Desk:
-Rich Heritage goes Abegging!

Rich Heritage goes abegging!

Why a Culture so rich of Storytelling looks Westwards for Ideas?

There was a time when Indian cinema had its own identity in earlier decades and it was known for its religion, culture and literature and of course the quality of work. Be it any genre - religious, historical, social, romantic, family drama, comedy, thriller or any contemporary issues of its time- Indian cinema gave the best of it while it didn’t have enough facilities and modern technology. As they says that India has always been 50 years back in technology then we must inform the world proudly that as a beginner Indian cinema was 50 years ahead in creativity, culture and literature. Our Hindi films used to influence regional as well as foreign cinema. For example ‘Do Ankhein Barah Hath’ (1957) directed and starred by V. Shantaram was remade in Telugu color film ‘Maa Daivam’ (starring N. T. Rama Rao and Jayachitra) in 1976 and It influenced Robert Aldrich’ s ‘The Dirty Dozen’.

They said that ‘The Dirty Dozen’ was based on E. M. Nathanson’s novel but let me mention here that his novel ‘The Dirty Dozen’ was published in 1965 while we had already given the plot 8 years ego. Later on ‘DO Ankhein Barah Hath’ was dubbed in 13 languages (regional and foreign). Another classic of Indian cinema, Madhumati (1958), directed by Bimal Roy and written by Ritwik Ghatak, popularized the theme of reincarnation in Western popular culture and influenced the Hollywood film ‘The Reincarnation of Peter Proud’ (1975). And the finest example of stealing the Indian concept was Steven Spielberg's Oscar winner ET which was bluntly stolen from Satyajit Ray’s story.

In 1967, Ray wrote a script for a film to be called 'The Alien', based on his short story Bankubabur Bandhu ("Banku Babu's Friend") which he wrote in 1962 for Sandesh, the Ray family magazine. The Alien had Columbia Pictures as producer for this planned US-India co-production, and Peter Sellers and Marlon Brando as the leading actors. However, Ray was surprised to find that the script he had written had already been copyrighted and the fee appropriated by Mike Wilson. Wilson had initially approached Ray as an acquaintance of a mutual friend, Arthur C. Clarke, to represent him in Hollywood. The script Wilson had copyrighted was credited as Mike Wilson and Satyajit Ray, despite the fact that he only contributed a single word in it. Ray later stated that he never received a penny for the script. Brando later dropped out of the project, and though an attempt was made to replace him with James Coburn, Ray became disillusioned and returned to Kolkata. Columbia expressed interest in reviving the project several times in the 1970s and 1980s, but nothing came of it. When E.T. was released in 1982, Clarke and Ray saw similarities in the film to the earlier Alien script—Ray discussed the collapse of the project in a 1980 Sight and Sound feature, with further details revealed by Ray's biographer Andrew Robinson (in The Inner Eye, 1989). Ray believed that Spielberg's film would not have been possible without his script of ‘The Alien’ being available throughout America in mimeographed copies (a charge Spielberg denies).

And our people consider Rakesh Roshan’s ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ inspired by E T. Isn’t it strange? But it is fine then because our producers don’t have guts to explore Satyajit Ray’s stories. It seems out dated to them. So it was bound to happen.

And now the things are reversing and providers have become stealers and borrowers. We not only borrowed the technology but the format, functioning, style and even Hindi film industry has been called Bollywood on the rhyme of Hollywood and Bangla film industry has been known as Tollywood (they blended it with Tollyganj, a well known area of West Bengal ). The day we abandoned our originality, we started losing our identity. And today Hollywood has become a most prominent genre of Hindi film industry as every third creation in films and TV reality shows is inspired by Hollywood. When you ask them about the project they will utter shamelessly the name of a foreign film. And very often these remakes proved a big disaster on box office but they don’t stop being copy cats. They perhaps loved to earn money instead of respect and saving identity.

What could be more shameful than a Richard Attenborough made ‘Gandhi’ (played by Ben Kingsley), won 8 Oscars and we just served him subject, actors, locations, costume designers, and at the end we clapped on it. And then Ben Kingsley Announced the ‘Shahjahan’ in which Aishvarya Rai Bachchan is going to play Mumtaz against Ben kingsley (Shahjahan). And here in our film industry a deserving and sensible directors Dr. Chandra Prakash Dwivedi who gave ‘Pinjar’ (based on Amrita Pritam’s novel) as good cinema and all time classic TV serial Chanakya, is waiting for a Producer with the bound script for his next venture ‘Prithvi Raj Chauhan’ while most of them are busy making likes of ‘Sing is Bling’, ‘Welcome Back’ and ‘Brothers’, spending billions. But when it comes to our history or literature, it is recession time.

Nobody could deny that Indian culture and literature is always been richer than any other country. We have plenty of characters and incidents in our history to portray on silver screen. But our producers-directors don’t want to spend money on research and scripts, the back bone of cinema. They spare all their money for film stars only and makes 92 crores Sing is Bling and 100 crores Welcome Back. And the other side Danny Boyle, a British comes and makes $15.1 million ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’ based on
'Q & A’ written by an Indian author Vikas Swarup and receives 8 Oscar, 7 BAFTA and 4 Golden Globe Awards. And our star Slum Dog Millionaire’s host was extremely happy as if he did something great for this country, being a part of the film. And I wondered those people in lime light didn’t highlight Vikas Swaroop’s Q&A, the soul of film, while they knew that his book is still better than your film. Well, GHAR KI MURGI DAL BARABAR and that’s an advantage for others and we envy.

The way Hollywood has started exploring India and now opened the entire major production house - 21st Centuary Fox, Columbia Pictures- Warner Brothers- branches here to produce and distribute Hindi Films, no wonder if our next generation says that we have stolen The Mahabharat and The Ramayan (our great epics) from Hollywood because Our Directors-Producers don’t have time to read and  research Indian history and consider Indian literature or even contemporary authors out dated. Actually they need ready stuff and what is easier than stealing from Hollywood ? They work hard for location hunting in Switzerland, New Zealand and don’t like to explore India. And those who really have guts to make something original and sensible don’t get finance as I have already given an example of Dr. Dwivedi.

Okay forget about Indian cinema, let’s take Hollywood. The most of Hollywood classics- Benhur, Gone with the wind, Casablanca, The bridge on river’s kwai, China Town, Best Years Of our Lives, Roman Holiday, Apocalypse now, It’s wonderful life, Shakespeare in Love and many more- are based on either their literature or best sellers or true incidents. They have been exploring World War from eras and have given number of films on its back drop. Are they fools? And here also till we were exploring our literature and best sellers like Sharat Chandra, Bankim Chandra, Premchand, R. K. Narayan etc. - we had a class. But now our cinema has lost its dignity for what it used to be known. Hollywood could make ‘Amadeus’, the film based on the lives of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, two composers as they believe in them, but we could not bring ‘Kabir’, the great poet and philosopher on the big canvas because we had lost faith in him. I bet you if they had Acharya Rajnish(OSHO) as an American, they would have made a wonderful contemporary film on his life. We have uncountable characters and incidents which have never been touched. What are we waiting for? Uff ...I got tired...

Well, the bottom line is if we don’t have faith in our culture and literature, we will not be able to rebuild our identity and the class we had. And in near future the suitable tag line for Hindi Cinema is going to be OWNER’S ENVY BEGGAR’S PRIDE....


The Author of this article Mr. Ajay Dikshit 'Nishant' is a Writer-Lyricist. Presently he is working on his Film titled "JILLO" as writer-Director.  

Nishant(Screen Name) 


Note - Our sincere acknowledgements to Passion for Cinema.
This artcile was published on www.PassionforCinema.com a few years back. We recieved this article under Members' Contribution Section from the the author who is FWA's member and holds the copyright.


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