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From Frank Capra to Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Dharmendra, Jackie Chan and Akshay Kumar. (Article on Cinema by Bobby Sing)

17 Jan, 2022 | Articles on Cinema

Inspired plots or films based on borrowed story ideas from the west have been associated with Hindi cinema since the early decades post-independence. There have been court cases related to plagiarism with the films getting banned and the prints destroyed, but the trend continues even in the present. With the world getting connected through the internet, though officially buying the rights is the new norm, we still get to see films or sequences heavily inspired from the world cinema, without any honest acknowledgement. 

Considering the decades of evolution, we certainly have come a long way, moving over the forgettable phase of borrowed filmmaking in Hindi cinema. But here I am sharing about the one film that has continued to inspire writers and directors in different eras, beginning from the 1960s to the first decade of the new millennium.

It’s a Frank Capra classic Lady For A Day, which the veteran director made almost 90 years back in 1933 based on the short story Madame La Gimp by Damon Runyon. A light-hearted emotional drama, the film revolves around an aging fruit-seller lady, who gets timely help from a gangster in portraying herself as a rich socialite in front of her daughter. The young girl, studying in a different city, is not aware of the poor state of her mother and the good-hearted gangster makes sure the secret doesn’t get revealed. Lady For A Day also happens to be (probably) the most important film of Capra’s career, as he chose to re-make it as Pocketful of Miracles three decades later, in 1961. The film eventually remained his last offering to the world. 
 
The same year, we witnessed the first Hindi film inspired by the classic as Mem Didi, directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Released in 1961, Mem Didi had the similar basic plot focusing on the Christian character superbly enacted by Lalita Pawar. But here instead of gangsters, Mukherjee placed two veteran actors, Jayant and David, playing the noble villagers coming to help the poor lady. As an amazing coincidence, just like Capra, Mukherjee too remade his film Mem Didi as Achha Bura in 1983, featuring Dina Pathak, Amjad Khan, and Ranjeet in the key roles.
 
After a decade of Mem Didi, director A. Bhim Singh intelligently incorporated the idea (with no disclosure, of course) as an important sub-plot of his film Loafer (1973) featuring Dharmendra as a petty thief. More remembered for its hit songs, the film had Om Prakash playing the poor fruit-seller, who presents himself as a rich person in front of his daughter with the help of Dharmendra.

The landmark American film next inspired another master of his art, Jackie Chan in 1989, who made his film Miracle on the same theme. Also known as Mr. Canton and Lady Rose, the film again had a gangster helping the poor lady selling him the lucky roses.

The inspiration resurfaced in Hindi cinema post three decades of Loafer in Anees Bazmee’s Singh is Kinng, but as usual, with no mention of its source. Released in 2008, the hit film again had the plot of a poor lady selling flowers (played by Kirron Kher) helped by a gangster (Akshay Kumar), leaning more towards the story progression of Chan’s Miracle.

It is said that good stories remain relevant for centuries and this is a perfect example of the same. That is how a beautifully conceived short story in 1929 continued to inspire writers and filmmakers for decades till the new millennium. For cinema lovers interested in watching the classics, both Lady For A Day and Pocketful of Miracles can easily be found on YouTube.
 
Bobby Sing
bobbytalkscinema.com 
 
NOTE : The article was first published in THE FREE PRESS JOURNAL Newspaper (Mumbai Edition) on 16th January 2022.
 
Note : The write-up is a chapter shared from my upcoming book releasing soon. So any additions, rectifications suggested by friends are welcome to make it better.
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Did You Know By Bobby SingFor more such interesting articles on lesser known facts on Hindi Cinema, do try DID YOU KNOW Series by Bobby Sing available in both Book and E-book form.

Also available 
at Notionpress and Flipkart stores (in India)
The book is now also available in Hindi titled 
ITNA TO YAAD HAI MUJHE published by Prabhat Prakashan.
 

Tags : From Frank Capra to Dharmendra Jackie Chan and Akshay Kumar by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Artilce on Inspired Borrowed cinema by Bobby Sing, New Article on Cinema by Bobby Sing, Bollywood Inspired from Western Cinema Articles by Bobby Sing
17 Jan 2022 / Comment ( 2 )
Purnima

Cool article. Reminds me of chori chori and dil hai ki manta nahi, i think they both inspired by some movie in west, right?

Bobby Sing

Yes Poornima, both these films and more too were based on IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934).
Keep Visiting and Writing in,
Regards

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