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Copyright violations in Indian cinema: why Barfi! denotes all that's wrong with Bollywood

Apurva Bakshi and Ravi Kiran

Keywords: copyright; infringement; plagiarism; Bollywood; Indian cinema; Barfi!

The Indian film industry is a dominant cultural force in its own right. Especially in the Indian subcontinent and in various other parts of the world, it wields considerable influence, despite the preponderance of the culturally and commercially stronger Hollywood and its stranglehold on movie audiences around the world. However, rampant plagiarism and unauthorized copying from Hollywood and other international films has been a long-standing malaise hampering the reputation of Bollywood as a major creative source of original intellectual property. Barfi! (Basu, 2012) was one of the major Bollywood films of 2012 to achieve both commercial success and critical acclaim. However, some of the scenes in the film have been copied ‘frame-for-frame’ from various international hits and classics. Additionally, a case of trademark violation was filed against the producers of the film and the music was also alleged to be copied from the soundtrack of the French film Amélie (Jeunet, 2001). This article looks at the contentious issue of plagiarism in the Indian film industry. It cites and discusses numerous examples of plagiarism in Bollywood and analyses the specific case of the film Barfi!

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