Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Big B to copyright his voice

Big B to copyright his voice

You’re not an aspiring actor unless you’ve tried your hand at an Amitabh Bachchan imitation. From radio to ads to comedy shows, good/bad/downright criminal copies of his voice and mannerisms are everywhere, and he’s not alone. Many actors and celebrities are spoofed or have their voices copied pretty much everyday – in fact, so often that we barely notice any more.

But recently, Big B took deep umbrage at a gutka company copying his voice for their advertisement, especially “for someone who does not smoke or propagate smoking or any kind of intoxicant, by keeping away from endorsing such products, it is most disgusting to find someone conflagrating the law of the land and the law of ethics,” he wrote online.

He’s also said that he’s going to copyright his voice so that it’s not copied in this manner anymore.

Kis kis ki copy?

He’s probably the most imitated star, but there are a bunch of others whom we’ve heard being spoofed endlessly over the years – in both commercial and non-commercial spoofs. These remain the favourites when it comes to copies. Says mimic and TV comedian Suresh Menon, “People like Sanjeev Kumar, Shotgun, Dadamuni, Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan remain the most copied stars, and it just shows that our present day actors are not as iconic or as stylish as these older ones. We’re still drawing from these legendary stars; these days, there’s nobody really worth imitating or with a distinctive style, except maybe Shah Rukh Khan. Actors are very mechanical these days.”

DU student Samridhi Kapoor also remembers Sunny Deol being copied sometimes, besides Big B and other older stars, and adman Prahlad Kakar says Big B, Sachin Tendulkar, SRK, Shatrughan (with his signature ‘Khamosh!’) and Sunny Deol are copied often. Adman Piyush Pandey adds Asrani to the list.

Right ya wrong?

But while we all enjoy the humour when these stars or their voices are copied for spoofs, admen, mimics and audiences all agree that when used for commercial gain without consent, mimicking a voice like that is unfair. “Amitabh Bachchan is absolutely right. He’s recognised by his voice, it’s his signature. I mean, when someone does a thin-voiced imitation of a cricketer, we all know whom they’re copying.

If Big B gets his voice copyrighted, he can sue people like those gutka manufacturers, which he can’t do otherwise. It’s alright if you’re copying a star for a spoof or for the purpose of programming, but when you’re doing it to sell a product, even if it is a spoof, that’s wrong. When it’s all fun and games, you can spoof even Indira Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. They don’t have a copyright law for voices yet, but if Big B gets his voice copyrighted, he’ll be the first one and he’ll be bang on,” says Kakar.

Pandey agrees. “It’s unfair to Mr Bachchan. He’s in any case overused by the industry. While the legalities are still not clear, it’s fair if he’s angry. Voices can be copied, but if they’re attributed to the star and used for personal gain, how do you prove it wasn’t them?”

While Menon agrees that it’s unfair in cases like these to use mimicry for commercial gain without the star’s knowledge or permission, he sounds a note of caution about overdoing the permission bit. “God has given us this talent – not everybody can mimic people well enough to make a living from it. If they want us to stop mimicry and spoofing altogether, they’ll have to compensate us for the money we’d lose from not practising skills we’ve perfected over years. Humour should not be interfered with. Famous people are always imitated, it’s the best form of flattery.”

Ahhh the reassurance of recognition ! As I drive home to Prateeksha Big B

Ahhh the reassurance of recognition ! As I drive home to Prateeksha Big B

Prateeksha , Mumbai Nov 9, 2010 Tue 11 : 17 PM

Ahhh .. the reassurance of recognition ! As I drive home to Prateeksha, cars and bikes ride by. Young enthusiastic urban delights waving, saluting, getting down from their mode of transport and running across to mine for an autograph. Jesus ! I must be doing something right, even at this late age and time. I point them on towards the house. Security getting edgy. They had to deal with an incident just day before. getting out of Jalsa and again driving away a man suddenly thrusts himself in front of the car to stop it. Security briefings have told us never to stop in such situations. I obey them and neatly try to drive by gentleman. He jumps on the car, I slow down, he opens the door and pushes himself in trying to grab me. Security that was just getting into their vehicle behind are a tad slow to respond, but they come up and grab the guy. I drive off as is the recommended brief. Gentleman has been reported to the police station just down the road. He is inebriated, gives an address and is detained till particulars are discovered or confirmed. The address is a fake. Police investigate further, and that is all I have knowledge of. Is it just another enthusiastic fan or something more. We shall never know, and we shall never be able to determine what or how we deal with such situations. Dangerous to allow an incident like this to occur if the gentleman meant to harm. Dangerous to discover that said gentleman was merely desperately in need of a hand shake with his hero. Who knows !!

At the end of the day though, there is but one surety .. a possible fan has been lost ! And then you wonder and think back to John Lennon shot by an over obsessed fan, a Monica Seles attacked with knife in the middle of a tennis tournament by obsessed Steffi Graff follower … and the world is full of so many similar incidents. You wonder then what is the best solution, or stance to take against such behavior. Nothing really … nothing that can be of any relevance at least. I brief my staff often on such issues. It is not possible to personally attend to each individual that wishes to make contact with you and so, what is it that can be best devised for such probabilities. You train the staff to be your representatives, to take and meet those that wish to make contact and guide them into how they need to behave or interact with the outsider. The staff has an onerous task. They need to protect as well as interact as the person they represent equally. The fan or the visitor that has through perhaps great effort come along to a region of great proximity of his or her idol, now wishes to be entertained as a serious follower. Their emotions are correct and cannot be faulted. But when they realize that the desired meet is not going to be possible the least they expect is that they be treated with some respect and dignity by the staff. And this is where things go horribly wrong. Staff having worked with star or celebrity for long, in time begin to acquire, what in their estimate are the attitudinal attributes of their master. Wrong ! master is no where like this. But … and this is a big but … because the visitor has never had opportunity to personally interact with the personality, and because the closest he has got to such situation is the meeting with a member of the staff of the celebrity, he thinks and assumes that because the staff has been close to celeb, staff must have acquired similar attributes of the master. So … when staff is abrupt, rude or badly behaved the assumption is that the master is similar in temperament. Visitor gets maltreated and goes away with a huge number of minus points against his idol’s name !! Idol has no inkling of this because staff has never dared to report the matter for fear of having perhaps not done something right, and the matter rests … until disgruntled fan shall encounter master at another public forum and let off steam, which unfortunately for the star is just not comprehensible. And now with so many channels available to the fan to make cyber contact, all the venom spills through … so abuse and vicious attacks follow, gladly and happily lapped up by media for wider publication and comment !!

Moral of the story …

Teach your staff that they are not you in the first instance. Teach them that when they represent you they must bear in mind that the visitor is indeed interacting with the star they have come to meet. Whatever the staff delivers is what they believe the star has delivered. And that is what needs to be monitored and controlled every moment.

So this young man who was merely perhaps wanting to hold my hand, by opening the door of my car and jumping in, now finds himself in a tight situation. What then would be the best strategy to resolve such an occurrence.

I think humility is a great attribute. Irrespective of who you are, humility never fails. Patience and tolerance would help greatly and with a bit of consideration.

Having said that, there are several incidents of the reverse. Or let me put it this way. Incidents of deliberate reverse. Not comprehending ?? Let me explain. Its a very simple and oft used strategy. You be the aggressive one, I shall be the appeaser ! If the agression works there will be no need for the appeasement. And if it does not work, the appeasement is always around. Now here is the other side. Many a time the opposite is used. Appeasement in the first stage, aggression in the second ! The entire exercise being that the job needs to be done. The celebrity has to be protected and the visitor, either way, must go back with a good feel.

Most visitors have constant complaints about the way they were maltreated by staff. Point taken and changes made to correct them. But what if its a part of a deliberate ploy. Get rude and aggressive first, wait for visitor to get upset, in comes star admonishes staff in front of the visitor, visitor raises the bar of star by miles at this corrective measure taken by his favorite, and star come out looking really good !! Which really was the purpose of the exercise in the first place !!

So what do you think … do I have the right qualities to be able to write up a commendable screen play or script ??

Careful how you reply. I just gave you an example of what I was capable of above !! Ha ha ha ha !! and Ha ha ha ha !

Get to bed now my lovelies ..’tis very late and tomorrow its back to KBC !!

Love and more to all ….

Amitabh Bachchan

My job as an anchor or artist or conductor Big B

My job as an anchor or artist or conductor

Prateeksha, Mumbai Nov 8 , 2010 Mon 11 : 25 PM

My job as an anchor or artist or conductor … call it what you may, on the television, is primarily to conduct the proceedings of the show, as per the rules and regulations that the format and the contractual obligations that get spelt when we sign in on the dotted line. Why it ever is called the dotted line remains a mystery for me, but that apart, to get back to the original thought, yes, why is it, that even though we are committed to merely run the show as per the diktats of the producer, our involvement goes beyond that and we begin to find it difficult to pull away from it.

It happens often when the plight of a contestant humbles and make you think how blessed we are to be where we are, when indeed the rest of the world is in such pain. Today on the sets of KBC it has been such an occasion. The plight of the contestant, their hopes and ambitions, their need to be able to earn something, to perhaps bring relief to their loved ones, their homes and the future of their children, is such a moving sight that, if it were not contracted I would have never have had the courage to face some of the stories and obstacles, these people from humble backgrounds go through.

To see and feel the joy and excitement of their success, to immerse into the depths of despair with them as they fail, is perhaps far too great a situation than most can imagine. Yet there it is - stark, brutal and without compromise.

It seems a travesty to announce the errors when they occur and to watch the changing expressions of those that get afflicted by them. It seems the greatest achievement when they stumble, steady themselves and pick up the correctness of the moment to survive and win. These are extreme expressions and feelings. One would imagine that once in awhile it would be a normal act to be a part of. But … when it happens often within the short span of say an hour, then it leaves us shaken and full of remorse. It almost feels like taking that completely incorrect procedure in hand and giving some indication or help to the person across the seat, in order that they could save themselves from imminent disaster.

But we cannot do this, and so the despair and discomfort is greater. All one can do in such situations is to spill out with great difficulty words of comfort and reassurance, so that their moment of loss is reduced.

It has been a day of great despair today and it will be difficult for me to say any further because there is still some while before the episode will be aired. But the pangs of pain for those that were unsuccessful will and shall remain.

Sad, but true !

I am truly sorry to have mentioned about my condition, physically, last post. I am much better and functional and mobile and have only a few hours back returned from recording another schedule, which went off without any problematic diversions. I do however register with great pride that the FmXt came out in large numbers to inquire after me and to give me sane advice. I shall follow them diligently, this I promise.

I also feel handicapped in the reading department. My sense of reading and acquiring greater knowledge through it has always been strong and malleable, but never strong enough to have been through some of the books that ought to have been read. Today when I look at myself there is so much that is wanted from me. And I can only answer this question with finality by admitting certain truths and facts of life. And those truths and facts of life are no where near in sentiment to me. This has to change and certain givens need to be put in correct perspective.

It would be an exercise in futility if I were to begin by enumerating where and what is known by me in straight terms of knowledge. Experience alone is not all that counts. There are other factors too. Once they are put in correct perpective, knowledge flows out unhesitatingly. That is what I feel I must entertain now as opposed to given an impression that all is known by me, and that I need no reminders or adjustments !!

Tomorrow I shoot for Filmfare, for their anniversary issue. A look of ‘Dr Who done It’ is what has been proposed for me. I think I may be beyond that age now, but what the hell, shall genuinely and most convincingly portray it to the best of my ability !

My best ability right now is certainly one of switching off the lights and getting into retrospective demeanor instantly. And I do feel that , keeping in mind the sentiments expressed, one must make sure that it is followed till the end …

Amitabh Bachchan

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