Recently, I saw two DVD-s one after another. It was purely coincidental that I had ordered on the DVD rental company Bigflix.com Jism, a Hindi movie released in the year 2000 and Double Indemnity, a Hollywood movie released in 1944. The two DVD-s were delivered to me on two successive days.
The English movie was delivered first. I enjoyed the movie very much though the movie had been released more than 65 years ago. It was a black and white movie. The director kept the tempo alive till the very last frame. It deals with an insurance salesman who falls for the charms of a scheming woman who wants her husband to be murdered and to pocket the money from a double indemnity insurance policy. The insurance man resists at first; but the fatal attraction that the woman holds for him makes him commit the murder. It is too late already when he discovers the true nature of the woman.
To my utter shock, I discovered that the Hindi movie Jism had the same story line. Since there was a time interval of 5 decades between the two movies, the producers of Jism perhaps thought that no one would notice; even if some film buffs do notice, they would not mind. But in my case, I saw the two movies back to back; on two successive nights. Without the prior knowledge that the Hindi movie was a carbon copy of the English one. I felt angry at the producers of Jism for such a blatant pilferage.
The Indian story unfolds in Pondicherry. John Abraham is a lawyer ; in the English movie Double Indemnity the fact that the hero is an insurance salesman lends enormous authenticity to the wily woman targeting him to be the tool of her wicked plan. After all, the main purpose was to get the insurance money and who better than an insurance salesman can be of help !The Hindi movie has kept the basic features of the plot such as the woman having been earlier the nurse who had murdered the rich man's first wife before marrying him, her pretending to be in love with the hero etc. But the hero being a lawyer and not an insurance man robs the movie of the cleverness of the plot to murder the woman's husband. In the English movie, the care the insurance salesman takes to create witnesses for the train journey the victim undertakes and the tension the eccentric and unpredictable but seasoned boss of the salesman causes to the salesman after the murder make the movie gripping. In the Hindi movie, murder is committed in a very amateurish way and even a child could demolish the alibi the hero creates to prove that he is not the murderer. In place of the insurance man's boss playing a vital role in the English movie, the Hindi movie creates a police inspector who is shown more emotional than rational. The songs and dances that are typical of any Indian movie drive away the edge-of-the-seat feeling a viewer could have been made to undergo in a suspense thriller.
Having twisted unsuccessfully the original plot in order to create an impression that this one is a different movie , the Hindi film carboncopies some scenes needlessly ; one such scene shows the tense hero trying to start the car( after the murder) , the woman watching his unsuccessful attempts and snatching the ignition key from his hand and starting the engine in a jiffy. In the English movie this scene adds to the suspense since the car is only a few metres away from the Railway track where the body of the woman's husband had been thrown by the lovers . In the Hindi film, since the corpse is thrown in a deserted factory ( without even a night watchman being present to guard the factory ) , the scene of the lovers trying to hurry away in a car that has starting trouble looks unconvincing and leaves the viewer cold.
My respect for the old Hollywood thrillers has increased after watching Double Indemnity and its unprofessional imitator Jism.