Into the glaring spotlightAneel Neupane, who describes himself as a beginner filmmaker with a big passion for image-making, has risen to fame over the recent copyright controversy surrounding his movie BOB.
Aneel Neupane, who describes himself as a beginner filmmaker with a big passion for image-making, has risen to fame over the recent copyright controversy surrounding his movie BOB. Neupane who says he wants to experience the world and portray his experience into photographs, films or any other art form, had stirred an internet firestorm after claiming that the Bollywood director Shirish Kunder blatantly copied BOB for his movie Kriti. A month into the controversy, with both sides refusing to bow down, Neupane sat down with the Post’s Garima Chaulagain for a candid conversation about the BOB-Kriti row, his body of work and his future projects. Excerpts:
The BOB-Kriti controversy has taken the internet by storm. Could you please tell us a little more about how the whole affair started out?
The BOB-Kriti controversy is all about the uncanny resemblance of the first few frames, the setting and the characters of Kriti with BOB. The saga began when a friend of mine told me about the film Kriti and sent me the link to it. I then made an online post regarding my reservations about the copyright infringement and the whole thing snowballed from there. I did not think that it would garner the wide-spread attention that it has.
Anybody who has seen both the movies can vouch that the resemblance between the two is indeed uncanny. What was your initial reaction when you saw the similarity between the two movies?
I could not believe it. I thought I was imagining things. So I sent the link to my friends, mainly the cast and crew of BOB, without mentioning the similarities. I wanted their honest thoughts. All of them responded saying that Kriti was exactly like BOB. That is when I sensed that my film had been ripped off and went public with my concerns.
The saga has already been drawn-out for about a month without either side bowing down from their claims of originality. How do you plan on tackling the issue now?
I am going to court. And to that end, I have been consulting with lawyers in India. It is taking some time since I do not have enough resources to speed the process up. But sooner or later, I believe that justice will be served. I believe in the legal system and feel that once they see all the facts that are presented, they will rule in the favour of BOB.
One thing that this saga has brought to the fore is the fine line between inspiration and imitation. When, in your opinion, are those lines blurred?
Everything we do or make is an amalgam of the different inspirations we build up throughout our lives. Even our thoughts take shape from countless movies, videos, people and places we come across and the imprint the society makes on our minds. Nothing is “original” in this context. Everything has been thought of and even executed previously. However, it does not imply that everything we create has to be a copy. To be “inspired” from something is one thing and to rip it off completely is something else entirely. I think what separates originality from imitation is that an original artwork is a mixture of an artist’s thought process and his experiences throughout their life whereas an imitation need not have much thought invested, since it is derived from a single or only a few direct sources.
How do you feel about the support you have received online and elsewhere on the issue?
I am truly overwhelmed! It feels amazing that people are actually watching BOB and liking it. I have been getting a lot of support messages and calls from Nepal and India as well. I feel blessed to have so many people come out and support the cause.
You are now almost a veritable celebrity. What future project/s do you have in mind once this controversy is put to bed?
This controversy, like I mentioned earlier, might be a long slog. But once it has been put to rest, I have a couple of short films in the pipeline. In the mean time, I also have been writing a script for a feature film. I feel blessed to have had so many people support me. I hope to give back by making great movies in the future.