Friday, January 22, 2010

Plagiarism rears its ugly head - Coconut Chutney latest victim

A little background - A chap named Charukesh made this video and posted it on youtube. My problem with it - and the problem of hundreds of Lavanya Mohan's fans out there - is that the script is lifted word for word from this post. What to do now? Charukesh seems to have got the script from one Vichar Hari. Who denies having lifted it, (though not outright). I thought I would put it up to these guys nicely, hoping they have the decency to do the right thing. I've put it on my blog so that you would know about it. I'm also planning to mail these guys on their fb addresses if they don't do it in a day or two

Dear Charukesh and Vichar Hari


Please accept my apologies for the joyless tone of this post, but I am not happy today. Being joyless is a strange feeling for me. And the reason of my joylessness is the two of you.



Allow me to introduce myself. I am Narendra Shenoy, a smalltime blogger writing allegedly humorous posts for a small audience. I have been writing for a while now, long enough to appreciate how difficult it is to write something really funny, especially on a regular basis.


Which is why I greatly admire Lavanya Mohan. Otherwise known as Coconut Chutney. A fine humorist. Witty. And original. I and many of her other followers show our appreciation by writing comments on her blog and generally applauding her wit. I strongly suspect that this is the only reason why she blogs. And provides us with so many delightful posts.

Now I come to the reason for my unhappiness. You guys made a short movie based entirely, word for word, on one of her posts http://www.chutneycase.com/2008/11/deviance.html which also happens to be one of my favourites. AND YOU DID NOT CREDIT HER. You just pretended it was original. I hope you understand that you have perpetrated a crime. A theft.


This is her intellectual property. Her original wit. The cause for so many of us laughing hard. And, if you glance at in the comments to that post, you will realize that they are the fuel for her creativity. Just read those comments, guys. You will understand what I am saying.

What I think you should do, Charukesh, and I address you here because you've made a pretty decent film of it, is be a gentleman, unconditionally and unambiguously apologize, and give due credit to Lavanya Mohan.

In another country, you would have been sued. Made to eat crow by due process of law. It might be possible here too, I am no lawyer. All that we, her fans, are asking you is to do the right thing. Apologize. Acknowledge.


Set the score straight, Charukesh. You will have our respect.

39 comments:

krishashok said...

What you are saying man? Dont you know Lavanya time-traveled from Nov 2008 to Jan 2010, listened to and transcribed said video and went back and updated her blog just in time before the first comment came through.

http://krishashok.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/kumbakonam-degree-copy/

deshvaasi said...

Beautifully said, but too polite. They, especially Vichar Hari, don't deserve such a nice request.

On a serious note, a student lifted an entire paper recently, a poorly written one at that and not even peer-reviewed. When confronted, he argued that he understood everything that the authors said and only copied because he couldn't have said it any better. :-) I think that at this point, it's in the genes.

Ranju said...

Sigh...what are these people thinking ?

just yesterday a food blogger had to go through this... one fellow had blatantly copied her posts word by word and then even her pictures and posted it as his own !!!!

after flooding his blog with comments, he apologised and deleted his blog...

http://wakeupandsmellthemasala.blogspot.com/2010/01/someone-is-blatantly-copying-all-my.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WakeUpAndSmellTheMasala+%28Wake+up+and+smell+the+masala%29

Anonymous said...

Just like every atom in our bodies was once part of a star, every thought was once part of someone's mind.

All I'm saying is that we all plagiarize. We plagiarize Newton when we use his laws. We plagiarize Mozart when we compose music. We plagiarized the DNA of bacteria and became the monkeys that we are. And, now we argue over a blog post. Why so serious?

sumit Das said...

Thanx for introducing me to a nice, original, funny blog. And I referred to Lavanya as "man" in my earlier comment. Oops...
I think I would try to do my bit by starting to follow Lavanya's blog and will try to comment as often as possible:D.As for those plagiarists,lets not give them importance by talking about them.

sumit Das said...

@ anonymous,
I think that plagiarism is the ultimate form of compliment one can pay ,but only if it comes along with due credit. After all when you use Newton's laws , you call it Newton's laws, not go about proclaiming it as an theory of your own, isn't it?.

Coconut Chutney said...

Thanks Mr.S, that's all I can say right now :) All out words and very touched :) You, Krish and Anand are the awesomest :)

Anonymous said...

Isn't that post inspired by Dostana?To me I felt she just substituted the punjabi milieu with Tambrams.


Vichar Hari probably thought what the heck.Its already stolen I will repeat the same.

_TVK

sriks7 said...

Shenoy,

I think yours is a voice of reason.
While I might have taken a stronger line, I think the director might have beleived that it was Vichar Hari's original idea.
Eitherway the best bet is for him is to do as you suggested & give Lavsmohan her due credit.

Coconut Chutney said...

@tvk

er, no. i can point out a hajaar differences, right from the actual storyline. but i dont have time for that now, so i will stop with no, it has nothing to do w dostana, and maybe you'd appreciate that difference if you had been able to understand the tamil-brahmin subtext.

PS : Dostana was released on Nov 13th, 2008. My post was published on Nov 9th.

Pays to do a bit of research now doesn't it?

Rupa said...

It's so shameless how some people think they can get away with plagiarism. Obviously they have no self respect nor an ounce of decency! As for *anonymous* trying to make light of this troublesome trend, he/she is only showing his/her own true colors. I hope *anonymous* is not dumb enough to claim Newton's laws or Mozart's music as his/her own some day!!!

Anonymous said...

Sad! I really feel that folks should not feel much about not having the prerequisite creativity!

It is ok!

- Sid

charukesh sekar said...

hi this is charukesh sekar. i am the person you have been talking about with regards to plagiarism. Honestly, I was shocked as anyone of you when i heard that this story was written by Ms.Lavanya Mohan. When I contacted my friend Mr.Vichar hari, he said he had no idea about who the real author was but admitted to the fact that he had ripped it off from a blog. I am currently in correspondence with Ms.Lavanya regarding this issue. Until then I would request you people to wait and kindly refrain from passing derogatory comments as it is going to worsen the situation . And think twice before you question someone integrity and professionalism. Coz none of you know what the truth is so kindly control your freedom of expression.

Scattered Thoughts... said...

Hah.. so he responded.. but wow.. look at the attitude.. huh?

Scattered Thoughts... said...

Hah.. so he responded.. but wow.. look at the attitude.. huh?

Dilip Muralidaran said...

Charukesh Sekar: "Control your freedom of expression". Lol, seriously dude, how did you come up with that? I'm so ROTFL LMAO here reading it.

Firstly you point fingers at your colleague when you clearly state it as co-written by yourself on the video credits.

When you steal things, you cannot afford to be this chicken enough. Grow some courage & take ownership of things.

narendra shenoy said...

@charukesh - Put all this behind you. If I have caused you grief, I apologize. You are a good film-maker. The fact that the storyline wasn't original does not detract from the quality of your short film. It was really quite good.

Don't let all this get your blood pressure up. You made a mistake, and from what I can see, an unintentional one. Get back to doing what you're good at.

Anonymous said...

@sumit Das
True :) Thank you. Where would we all be if JimiH hadn't covered Dylan's "All along the Watchtower"?
But, I'm quite befuddled by the intensity of the antagonism in some reactions.

@Rupa
Anyone who has studied music and science would know that there is neither a beginning nor an end, only a cascade. Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Newton, Watson and Crick, Mozart have all been accused of plagiarism, not without reason. If the world ran on self-respect and decency, we'd all be dead.

I'd be quite proud if someone plagiarised my work, especially if I naively put it up on the internet and am not greedily looking for profit.

Lekhni said...

I don't know why he could not add a simple credit for the screenplay. Was it too much to ask, given that the screenplay is what makes the whole film? Did he believe he could get away with it?

Preeti said...

Chutney rocks - and we all know that...let karma do the rest to them ;)

Radha said...

Yes! it is plagiarism alright. Now, let's see what we can do to people like Kamal Haasan who copies hollywood movies and never credits the originals! He talks about anti-piracy of Dvds.....

mentalie said...

i am going to check out ms.lavanya right away. and plagarism ke proponents ke mooh pe ack-thooh.

Vivek said...

Hear Hear!

Kumar said...

I do not understand the commotion, when Lavanya herself plagiarized this from Goodness Gracious Me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_C6Q9KLJbs

Dilip Muralidaran said...

@Kumar: There is commonality in the theme in between the "Goodness Gracious Me" video & Lavanya's work, agreed. However to call it plagiarism i think is immature & over-doing it. Lavanya's work is very well scripted and extremely localized to the Tamil Brahmin community which is in no way related to the NRI community in the UK. Its like comparing an old Bond movie & "CID Shankar" from vijayashankar. Whilst the latter may borrow from the former it is extremely evident that the latter has its own ingredients to cater to a local audience.

One can rake up any crap they want when one does not want to publish their identity on the internet, sigh.

Kumar said...

Dilip,

The story is the punchline. The punchline is unique to Goodness Gracious Me. This is definitely plagiarism. I do not have a blog dude, so apologies for a name without a link.

Dilip Muralidaran said...

@Kumar: What Charukesh did was word for word reproduction. That is plagiarism.

By your terms anything that takes cue of something is plagiarism. This idea leads to nowhere. Ideas are always based off existing information. Plagiarism is deliberate word for word copying of one content and illegally representing it as original content. Can you give me instances of word for word reproduction of content from the UK video and Lavanya's work?

I looked at the video the second time and i failed to find acute reproduction of script/content from it on the blog post.

The only commonality i find is Indian Boy tells conservative Indian parents that he is gay. Apart from that, everything else steers differently.

I'm sorry but i think "inspired" is sort of the word one would look for here. I still disagree accusations of plagiarism you make.

narendra shenoy said...

@kumar - I agree with what Dilip is saying. Just this morning, I made a joke about the just released iPad. My joke was based on the fact that "pad" also stands for "sanitary napkin" and I thought I was being really witty.

There were atleast 30 such jokes before mine and a hundred after, based on just this circumstance. Naturally, my joke, such as it was, fell flat, but I don't think anyone was plagiarizing.

You are entitled to your opinion, though.

Kumar said...

Dilip,

I got your point about word to word plagiarism. But my point is that the punch line of Goodness Gracious Me "You could not get a good Indian boy?" was modified and used by Lavanya in her blog. From shock about ones son being gay to accepting it as long as the boy is from your community, is nothing but a natural evolution of the original thought. She has to give credit to Goodness Gracious Me for being "inspired" before crying plagiarism. Don't you think that is the decent thing to do here to justify her claim to being plagiarized? Peace!

Dilip Muralidaran said...

@Kumar: No. I dont think so. She clearly credited the people whom she was conversing with which brought up the whole idea. Personally i would give credit to Lavanya, i do however can't stop from screaming plagiarism for something that shares commonality on the subject matter under discussion. If that's the case every song writer in tamil cinema should credit God for every love song that is written, since love is god & god is love. However we dont, because its taken for granted comparing love to moon, starts, god, life et all is a usual subject of discussion.

I agree with the technical accuracy of your suggestion but disagree with its validity. Having credited two people, im sure, knowing Lavanya personally she wont hesitate to credit the third or the thirteenth if thoughts that inspired the post had come from that source.

Idling in Top Gear said...

@Kumar: Actually Lavanya had never heard of 'Goodness Gracious Me' until I gave her some links for some of their (different themed) clips sometime in 2009, a full year after she wrote her Deviance post, which you think is inspired by GGM. The story of Deviance came out a gtalk chat that she and I had about a friend of her's who she thought was gay and how his family would respond when he finally came out. She came up with the punch line specifically because we had talked about Iyengar pride earlier in the conversation and so she jokingly said that if he ended up picking an Iyengar boy, his parents would be a lot less disappointed in him because he was marrying into pedigree. That was when she came up with the punchline from which we developed the rest of the story. If you noticed the end of the post, I am credited for co-developing the concept with her. Since I was there when the post was created, I can tell you that there was absolutely no inspiration from GGM.

Also, what you are alleging isn't even the equivalent of saying that Avatar is inspired by Pocahontas 'coz in both, the White man ends up becoming one of the natives. Clearly the story of Pocahontas is known by every single 8+ year old in America and you could argue that it could have had a subconscious effect on James Cameron. But here, the author had no clue what GGM was nor had any reason to know it. It was never shown in India and she wasn't particularly a fan of silly British humor, being brought up on American sitcoms like Friends.

Hope this clarifies things.

@Mr.S: Sorry for the long comment, ji. :)

Chimmanda said...

@ Mr. Shenoy - that ipad joke is not funny! Mrs. S - are you listening? your husband not only copies jokes, he copies bad ones! ground him i say!

Anonymous said...

Dear Narendra

The "Chutiya Kingdom" plagiarism post was not a cheap shot at this post. Its only an ironic coincidence that I posted that about plagiarism unbeknownst to the fact that you had this post about plagiarism.

Plagiarism is wrong and all involved in plagiarism should be punished. All - the readers, plagiarizee, the plagiarizer, the critics, the critics of the critics.

And I SWEAR TO ALL THAT is holy I KID YOU NOT the word verification for this one is

"copyaket"

coincidence? I don't think so. God. Yes.

regards
Suman Kalyanpur (Retd.)

Anonymous said...

"@Kumar: Actually Lavanya had never heard of 'Goodness Gracious Me' until I gave her some links for some of their (different themed) clips sometime in 2009"

REALLY?

Anonymous said...

"hi this is charukesh sekar. i am the person you have been talking about with regards to plagiarism. Honestly, I was shocked as anyone of you when i heard that this story was written by Ms.Lavanya Mohan"

"@Kumar: Actually Lavanya had never heard of 'Goodness Gracious Me' until I gave her some links for some of their (different themed) clips sometime in 2009"

Just trying to put two things in perspective.

Anonymous said...

for coconut chutney blogger, just acknowledge the 'theme similarities' between deviance and goodness gracious me skit, that's all.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

did they retract? should send a mail to the host site.

some moron had flicked one of my posts - sent impassioned mails to all and sundry until the powers that be banned that fellers site. but its a scourge i tell you. s

Shiv Kalra said...

I agree with the anon who said Lavanya should acknowledge 'theme similarities' with Goodness Gracious Me. Lets see her do it.

Grottans Barn said...

Plagiarize checker - http://plagiarisma.net