Originality in Films

Earlier at Lunch today, a friend of mine asked me - Who do you think is the director with the most original ideas today? I dropped my spoon. You see I have always had answers ready. I thought I could answer them all - Why did Slum dog bag the Oscars? Why our movies still need songs and dancing? Why is Rajnikanth, well Rajnikanth? I studied to be a lawyer by choice. But this question seemed to blind me. This was a rare occasion for me. I began to treasure it and started wondering. What is Originality?

What is Originality?

Speaking strictly from a cinema perspective, does Originality mean showing something that has never been shown before? That seems very simple. But doesn't that also mean that a person should have conceived the idea which someone else has never conceived before. Now we are looking at a complex scenario. Logically speaking that's almost impossible. Take a look at the world's population. In spite of all the laws in place, none can really find out the source of any idea. Isn't there a very good chance that somebody somewhere is writing a article exactly like this one .Or even better perhaps?

Was Mani Ratnams "NAYAKAN" a remake? Or does it sound better when we say tribute. In any case, what needs to be remembered is the fact that every human being looks at something else to learn. Some of us read, some of us watch movies and a lot of us don't bother to come up with anything original. Originality, in simple terms means - Fresh treatment. And Mani Sir is the founder of that concept. Most of us young aspiring filmmakers have looked up to him at some point or the other. A similarity between most thinking filmmakers is the not the obsession not to explore newer ideas but to portray an already laid out idea like it was never portrayed before. And the only thing that helps a Director develops this craft is the art of reading. A famous Director once told me that the difference between a great filmmaker and an average filmmaker is that the great director's room has a lot of books and the other filmmakers room has only pirated DVDs. True to the core.

One of the most original scenes in recent times for me has to be the climax scene of the Tamil film, ANJAATHEY. Two girls are being held hostage inside a farmland. When one of them runs, the confused captor chases her but immediately turns back and realises that the other one has escaped too. The simplest idea, shot to near perfection by Mysskin. The instinctive and broken human psyche had been captured so well. I had the pleasure of meeting the director, and asked him as to how he came up with the idea. While shooting for that scene he said, he sat on a nearby milestone for close to ten hours thinking of ways to make the scene look interesting. Hours went by and he casually turned back for a brief moment to look at the paddy fields behind him. And he had conceived the idea.

At a time when people think Originality is the art of concealing ones' sources, some filmmakers push boundaries for those few extra whistles.

May the tribe grow, I thought to myself.