Bollywood continues to takes cues from Hollywood Hollywood films have been the inspiration for many of the Hindi film industry's biggest hits.
Right from cult classics like Baazi (1951) to Sholay (1975) and Baazigar (1993) - and even Ghajini (2008) - all have some western movie as the stimulus. The Hollywood influence is evident in some of the forthcoming biggies like Paa, Action Replay, Agyaat and Pyaar Impossible.
Guru Dutt's debut Baazi was inspired by the Rita Hayworth starrer Gilda (1946), while Sholay is widely called an 'Indian curry Western film', with inspiration from seven Hollywood films including - Once Upon A Time In The West (1968), Spaghetti Westerns, The Wild Bunch (1969), Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).
It's called inspiration
Baazigar and Ghajini are said to be Indianised versions of A Kiss Before Dying (1991) Memento (2000) respectively.
Paa supposedly draws its plot from the 1996 comedy-drama Jack, about a boy who ages faster than normal due to a disease, while Akshay Kumar-starrer Action Replay is an alleged take-off on the reverse-ageing drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Promos of Ram Gopal Varma's horror thriller Agyaat suggest sequences from sci-fi horror Predator (1987). Pyaar Impossible is apparently sketched around reality TV series Beauty and the Geek and 1999s Notting Hill - on a relationship between a film actress and her fan.
Tried and tested methods
David Dhawan, Karan Johar and Abbas-Mustan are working on remakes of The Wedding Crashers (2005), Stepmom (1998) and The Italian Job (1969 and 2003).
Film critic Omar Qureshi says it is due to the lack of writers that filmmakers are visiting Hollywood movies for inspiration.
"The biggest motivation for making a successful movie is that it brings money and appreciation. So filmmakers go for a tried and tested formula by taking inspiration from Hollywood. Otherwise there are only a very few talented writers who've come out with original content, it's actually not about writers," Qureshi said.
Old habits, die hard
Hollywood has been an influence even in the 1940s.
Mehboob Khan's 1940 movie Aurat that he remade 17 years later into Mother India was inspired from Hollywood flick The Good Earth (1937).
"There has been a constant borrowing of ideas between the two industries. Take for example The Magnificent Seven (1960) that was inspired from Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954) that went on to inspire Sholay. Even The Parent Trap (1998) has a plot similar to that of Do Kaliyan (1968)," Qureshi said.
A lack of scripts
US-based Indian origin Hollywood filmmaker Nagendra Karri said: "It's the lack of scripts and proper writers that is making Indian filmmakers copy Hollywood. In fact, that is one of the reasons Kamal Haasan used to get his scripts written by French writers and then adapt them to make classics," Karri said..
"Even if you are adapting or copying, at least give credits to the original, so that they don't feel cheated or offended."
Film historian SMM. Ausaja says that though there is no dearth of good content here, filmmakers don't prefer to invest time in searching for good stories for their movies.
"There is no dearth of content here. It's only a question of shortcut that the filmmakers take because they want a ready script. We've always been inspired from the west, Lifting has been here since the 1940s.
"There are only a few Indian directors who've made authentic films like Ashutosh Gowariker who meticulously gives time to his scripts," he added.
From Shah Rukh to Ramu
Superstar Shah Rukh Khan's hits like Baazigar, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Josh, Mohabattein, Main Hoon Na and Chak De India have based their stories respectively around films like A Kiss Before Dying, Sleepless in Seattle (1993), West Side Story, Dead Poet's Society (1989), Never Been Kissed (1999) and Mighty Ducks.
Ram Gopal Varma, known for making films on the underworld, also took inspiration from The Godfather (1972) to make Sarkar.
Qureshi says things have changed now as Hollywood filmmakers are keeping a close tab to ensure that Indian filmmakers don't lift ideas without taking permission.
"Earlier filmmakers were doing it blindly, but now with Hollywood keeping an eye on us they are doing it with their consent."
Recently, film banners like B.R. Films, Mirchi Movies and David Dhawan have faced the flak for lifting movies like My Cousin Vinny (1992), the Harry Potter title and Hitch (2005) respectively for desi versions of forthcoming Banda Yeh Bindaas Hai and 2008 dud Hari Puttar and Partner (2007).