Anurag Basu defends himself stoutly against charges of his film being copied from various sources.
Says the director passionately, “I am very proud to say Barfi is a completely original story. It’s very difficult to make original cinema and I take a lot of pride in saying Barfi is original. It baffles me why people are not appreciating the original plot, screenplay, characters and situations.”
Anurag thinks highly of the other films that were considered as India’s official entry to the Oscars. “The other films that were contenders for the Oscar were really good films. I am very privileged to be in that group.I paid a homage to the films and filmmakers that I grew up watching. Martin Scorcese and Quentin Tarantino have done the same. Does that make them a thief? Great moments of cinema that you’ve watched through the years, stay in your mind and they come out in your work. It doesn’t mean you’re copying anyone. Thank God The Artiste was not made by an Indian. If it had, it would have never gone to the Oscars.”
As part of the strategy to make ‘Barfi!’ increasingly Oscar-worthy the producers UTV have decided to maintain a milieu of mandatory silence over the charges of plagiarism that have been popping up ever since the film was selected as India’s entry for the Oscar.
Says a dear friend of Anurag, “UTV has decided to completely clamp down on all responses to the derivative charges. Anurag and the film’s cast Ranbir, Priyanka, Ileana and even the supportive players have been asked not to respond to plagiarism charges, for that would automatically eliminate ‘Barfi!’ from the Oscar short-list. Anurag is not denying similarities with films in the past. He has paid a homage to Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keatan. But he hasn’t copied them. Scenes similar to films that Anurag grew up watching are bound to crop up, just like Martin Scorcese’s Hugo had scenes resembling moments from a 1951 British film The Magic Box and the 1923 silent film Safety Last. And Quentin Tarantino always got inspired. The Artiste which last year won the Oscar for best film was accused of being lifted frame by frame.”
Adds Anurag, “Barfi has gone to festivals all over the world. Why wasn’t it accused of lifting scenes? In fact when the promos were on before release I clearly stated, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin were sources of inspiration.”