On June 22, filmmaker Shirish Kunder (Jaan-e-Mann, Joker) released a short film, a psychological thriller titled Kriti on YouTube. The film was carefully marketed online, with a number of celebrities tweeting eagerly about the 18-minute short. (It helps that Kunder is married to choreographer-filmmaker Farah Khan, who commands a lot of goodwill within the industry's A-List.)
Additionally, Kunder's short featured known Hindi films actors like Manoj Bajpayee and Radhika Apte along with Neha Sharma.
While the film exploded online and quickly garnered over a million hits within a couple of days, a not-so-flattering detail has just come to light. Aneel Neupane, a Nepal-based filmmaker has said in a Facebook post that Kunder has plagiarised his short film Bob.
In a heartfelt appeal, Neupane explained the financial limitations (a meagre Rs 32,000) in which the film was made and the enduring struggle the makers had to go through to put it out there. Here's the full text.
My name is Aneel Neupane and I’m a filmmaker.
My team at Jazz Productions and I worked super hard to make our latest release BOB. We gave our blood and sweat to this project. We had a super hard time finding anyone to fund this project, so we pleaded our friend Tejaswee Rajthala (Jazz Productions Australia) to invest and he did. But We were constrained by the budget limitation of NRS. 50,000 (32,000 Indian Rupees). It was not a lot to go on with, but I’m personally super grateful to the whole cast and crew for believing in the story, volunteering and making it possible to create this film in that limited budget.
We had the film ready in October 2015. I had uploaded it on Vimeo as a private video to share it with close friends. You can see here (https://vimeo.com/145062291) that the video is 7 months old. We finally released it on youtube on May 12, 2016. As of right now, there are 3033 views. Although that’s not a lot of views, I have been getting a lot of messages and amazing feedback from so many people! Thank you all for appreciating BOB. Your response made me feel like all the effort and sleepless nights were worth it.
However! (Plot twist here)
Yesterday (June 23, 2016), I woke up to find Kriti (http://bit.ly/28RiRXB) on youtube. Initially, I thought maybe the first few frames, the setting and characters resembled BOB. I thought it was just a co-incidence. I was actually excited to watch a short film starring Mr. Manoj Bajpayee (A great actor whom I admire a lot!) and Neha sharma (whom I’ve had a HUGE crush on ever since I saw her in the movie Crook). As the movie progressed, I was shocked to find so much similarities.
Now, I have no idea how to go about on this. I’m angry not because Mr. Shirish Kunder practically stole the plot and made it into his film. I’m angry because We didn’t even have lunch money while shooting BOB, and a spot boy for Kriti probably made more money than BOB’s entire budget. My team and I didn’t work our asses off just so some rich dude from India could turn it into this and get away with it. That’s just not fair.
On the plus side: In today’s Movie Industry, so many Nepali films are being made that are “inspired” from Bollywood. It feels like most Nepali Filmmakers just sit and watch of a couple Bollywood movies and mix the plot together to make one crappy Nepali film. And my film was able to inspire A-Class Bollywood actors and filmmakers. I think that’s a win for Nepal. It’s nice to know that a smalltime rookie filmmaker from Nepal was able to inspire Big Time director and actors in Bollywood.
Now, honestly, I’m clueless as to what I have to do next. If I take the fight to them, I don’t think I’m equipped financially or otherwise. It would just be a tiny voice screaming from far away for them. And a lot of people told me that they will just get away with it as they have by ripping off of numerous other films from all over the world.
It would be nice if you guys would help report the video on youtube. :)
Bob begins with a man sitting in a session with his psychiatrist, a middle-aged man, talking about his newly minted relationship with a woman named Mynah. The psychiatrist's office has walls decorated with surreal artwork and framed degrees and certificates of achievement in his field. As the man, clutching a brown stone in his hand (he calls it 'Bob'), speaks about Mynah, his psychiatrist expresses skepticism, asking if Mynah is on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. He also notes the similarity between her name and the name of his patient's mother. The premise set up is that she is a figment of his imagination, and the doctor asks him to consider a line of treatment in which he has to 'kill' her so that he can get better.
Kriti begins with a writer named Sapan (Bajpayee) sitting in a session with his psychiatrist Kalpana (Apte), talking about a new woman in his life named Kriti (Sharma). Kalpana's office is full of surreal artwork and framed degrees and certificates of achievement in her field. As Sapan tells her about Kriti, a woman he is now living with, Kalpana expresses skepticism, asking if Kriti is on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. She also notes that the name Kriti bears resemblance to a woman who was previously in his life, Rachana, and notes that both names literally mean 'creation', The premise set up is that she is a figment of his imagination, and Kalpana asks him to set up a covert Skype call to see whether Kriti is indeed real.
While the films end somewhat differently, it is clear as day that many of their plot points and production design elements are suspiciously similar.
However, on Friday afternoon, Kunder defended himself on Twitter, claiming that Kriti was shot before the film was uploaded on YouTube and pointing out that there was no way he could've watched the link available on Vimeo, since he doesn't know Neupane.
In a phone conversation with HuffPost India, he further elaborated: "It's practically and logically impossible for me to steal something when I myself had started working on it much before May 12, the day Bob was released. It's possible it's just a coincidence, it can happen sometimes. My film was in post-production in March so there's literally no way that I could have seen Bob, wrote my version, and then shot it."
About him reporting the video to YouTube, he remarked, "Good for them. Let them do what they can. I am proud of my work."
Watch both films below.
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