Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)

It is unfair to say that Bollywood didn’t keep pace with global cinema and entertainment. After all, they need to copy their songs and plotlines from somewhere. It is not fair to blame just the contemporary Bollywood filmmakers for copying content from other movie industries. The practice began early in the Black & White era itself.

Check out this gem from Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, for example. There were two popular songs in this film, and both were ripped from American singers. First is ‘The Watermelon Song’ by American singer Tennessee Ernie Ford in 1957, which was remade as ‘Hum They Woh Thi’. And the second was the ‘Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si’ which was “inspired” by Merle Travis’s Sixteen Tons (1955).

Reportedly, the film was made to be a flop so that the Ganguly brothers could write it off as income tax loss. They were taken aback when the film became the second-highest-grosser of the year (after Madhumati).

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I watch how Bollywood engages with and represents Hindu society. A non-Marxist film critic writing in English.

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