Krishna Shastri Devulapalli’s Jump Cut turns the spotlight on the film industry’s disregard for intellectual property rights

The film industry has often relied on happenings around the world for inspiration and Kollywood is no different. Now, Kollywood itself is turning out to be fodder for some of our new-age authors. Last year, a group of young writers — Paadhai (Shammeer and Siva in particular) — penned Neon Nagaram based on music plagiarism in the film industry.

Is it ignorance?

Now comes Krishna Shastri Devulapalli’s (KSD) second book in three years, Jump Cut (Harper Collins), a touching tale on how the film industry rips people off with nary a thought to intellectual property rights.

In the Acknowledgements section of the book, the author says, “....to us, the Indian public, for knowing all there is to know about property, whether residential, commercial or benami, and yet thinking that intellectual property is a gated community for nerds. Is it ignorance or just a ‘don’t care’ attitude?”

In 2011, KSD wrote the book Ice Boys In Bell-bottoms released by Harper Collins. The key character of this book was Meghamala Radhakrishna (nicknamed Cloud Garland — CG for short), a poet who survived on film song lyrics writing. “The protagonist was Gopi, whose grandfather was CG. The book was largely autobiographical. I had planned a trilogy but Jump Cut happened before that; the second of the trilogy is getting ready for next year.

I think, subconsciously, I wanted to get Gopi out of my system and step into a purely fictional Ray Raman, the protagonist of Jump Cut,” explains KSD.

That KSD’s grandfather was the inspiration for CG (in the first book) — thereby the only string connecting KSD to the film world — was really not the reason for him to conceive the Jump Cut story. “The film connection may have been there at the back of my mind. But, I thought it was a nice subject for a book,” explains KSD.

Jump Cut

The hero of Jump Cut is Satyajit Ray Raman (shortened to Ray Raman to please his American friends in the IT world). The book is about Ray’s visit to India, reluctant but unavoidable because his father is hospitalised and in a critical condition. Ray’s father, Raman, an unsung hero, a mere cog in the film production machinery, provided story ideas through well-written scripts to opportunists such as director Rajarajan who made successful box-office smashers by simply replacing Raman’s name with his.

Eventually, crestfallen, heart-broken and cheated, Raman gives up on life. Ray’s friend Abie says that Raman’s death was akin to murder. Something snaps in Ray’s mind, for he comes back from the U.S. to avenge his father’s death. Only, he doesn’t know how. “That’s when Ray decides to play Rajarajan’s game and give him a taste of his own medicine,” says KSD. But there’s more to why Ray returns!

KSD and his wife Chitra are writers and illustrators of children’s educational books. Being a cartoonist too, Krishna’s observations of the nuances of everyday life get incorporated in his books. It’s the presentation of these everyday quirks that make this book an interesting readJump Cut . And the typical Madras-isms, of course. Sample these — “Film fellows are, without fear of contradiction, the biggest and most brazen violators of copyright law in the country. Copy-aavadhu, right-aavadhu; it doesn’t exist for them”, “The potti kadai man was at his mesmeric daily ritual: making the endless steamy brown liquid ribbon that stretched and shortened from one glass to another.”

(Jump Cut by Krishna Shastri Devulapalli is to be being released by Harper Collins today at Hotel Savera)