THEY ARE SAME, SAME BUT DIFFERENT
A number of films with storylines that are alike are being made. Experts say, these inadvertent similarities will affect business
At a time when Bollywood is witness to a host of films with fresh and off-beat scripts, another diametrically opposite trend seems to be picking up, too. That of films with stark similarities in their storylines. Sample this: Habib Faizal’s directorial Qaidi Band that has just released and Nikhil Advani’s production, Lucknow Central, slated for a release next month, both narrate the same story of a music band formed inside a prison. Also, Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra’s upcoming film, Mere Pyaare Prime Minister, addresses the issue of open defecation, just as Akshay Kumar’s Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. Asked why such similarities crop up, Faizal explains, “At any given point, filmmakers draw inspiration from what is happening around us — either something disturbs you or something excites you. So there will be an overlap and you can’t do anything about it.” Film critic Omar Qureshi agrees, “There are so many movies to make and such few stories and that’s been the bane of Bollywood. The problem is that when biopics or true stories are told, the danger of someone else making it with a similar thought is even higher.” Other recent examples include Akshay’s 2018 release Padman that talks about a man’s endeavour to make low-cost sanitary napkins available for women in his village, and Phullu, which released in June this year, that narrated a similar story. Starring Kalki Koechlin and Richa Chadha, the film Jia Aur Jia is about two girls on a road trip, as will be Rhea Kapoor’s directorial, Veerey Di Wedding, which is yet to be shot. Ayushmann Khurrana’s Shubh Mangal Savdhaan talks about erectile dysfunction and the 2016 film Fuddu, too, was loosely based on similar lines. Even Indu Sarkar and Baadshaho are both set against the backdrop of emergency in India from 1975-1977. Filmmaker Anubhav Sinha says two different filmmakers working on a similar storyline is “unfortunate”. “More often than naught, these coincidences are inadvertent. However, they certainly eat into each other’s business. If the films are of different sizes and budgets, they might not hurt each other. Unless there are four Bhagat Singh biopics being made simultaneously. Those episodes are rare,” says Sinha.