Bollywood directors have forever aped Hollywood storylines. Western studios have belatedly woken up to this trend and started threatening Bollywood directors with copyright infringement lawsuits. This article refers to English and Indian law and examines the ways in which filmmakers who copy storylines can be sued for copyright infringement. The author argues that copyright lawsuits against Bollywood could indirectly benefit the gifted yet neglected Indian directors outside the Bollywood genre.
In British India, the government-appointed Indian Cinematograph Committee (“ICC”) presciently discerned an aesthetic divergence in Indian cinema. The ICC felt that “Bombay productions” were not “faithful to Indian life.” These productions indulged in “crude imitation” and showed “a tendency not only to borrow plots and incidents” from Western novels, but “also to imitate the Western films both in action and treatment.” However, the ICC found Bengali movies to contain “a more intellectual appeal.” The storylines of Bengali movies were derived not from Western movies or novels but from the “peculiarly rich” literature of Bengal.