Repeat Viewing – University of Copenhagen

Dr Lotte Hoek
(University of Edinburgh)

Repeat Viewing: Plagiarised Film and the Responsibilities of Creativity in South Asia

While KFC (Kader Food Centre) continues to do brisk business at Jahangirnagar University near Dhaka, across South Asia the proliferation of copies and imitations fuels recurrent public anxieties, discontentment and even anger alongside the inevitable amusement that the creative plagiarist brings its audience. In this paper I explore the anxieties over plagiarism and copying that have informed the way in which the relationship among the nation-states of South Asia have come to be imagined and figured. I ask how the connections between Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cinema have been mobilized to articulate anxieties about the capacity to be the ‘author’ of one’s own fate and the moral responsibility to act as such. This paper focuses on the cinema, where this concern has been vociferously articulated, but the same anxieties can be found in other areas of public life in Bangladesh (from language to state institutions and development initiatives etc). I will suggest that debates about plagiary and the anger over copying in cinema are more than mere aesthetic criticism and are animated by an acute discomfort that the derivative both masks and makes visible.