A Google India ad that has gone viral and racked up more than 4 million hits has been accused of largely borrowing its plot from a Pakistani film.
The ad, titled Reunion, shows the wonders of internet search bringing together two childhood friends who were separated after the partition of India and Pakistan during the last days of British colonial rule in 1947. It's a tear-jerker that has won much applause.
The plot of the mini-movie starts with an elderly Indian gent describing to his granddaughter how he used to play with an old chum, Yusuf, near his old family home in Lahore and steal "jhajariya" sweets from a nearby shop. This all happened before the partition of India and Pakistan, so the gent and Yusuf haven't seen each other for decades.
Enter the internet-savvy daughter and her Android mobe, which helps her to track down the shop and get hold of Yusuf, now an old man.
Yusuf’s grandson then jumps onto another Android smartphone to search for “Indian visa requirements” and the short vid ends with a teary birthday reunion for the two and a hint of cross-border romance for the kids who made it happen.
Let's roll tape on it below:
Nice, isn't it, if a bit mawkish?
It may also be a bit plagiarised. Pakistani director Taha Kirmani tweeted (via Global Voices Online) that Google's film was “completely inspired” by his own short, called Respect, which was apparently made by students on a shoestring budget.
Here's Kirmani's film, Respect, so you can judge for yourself.
Once again you'll see an elderly gent – well, he’s supposed to be, although the student actor playing him looks about 20 – talking to his grandson about his old childhood friend Raj.
He knew this guy in India, where he lived before the 1947 partition and he speaks fondly of Raj’s son, whom he suspects to be a doctor.
Quick as a flash the grandson jumps on Google Earth to show him his old stomping ground of Ludhiana, and through Google and Facebook finds Raj’s son.
The vid ends with Raj Skyping his old friend.
Respect: A Special Short Film About Friendship, by Pak Sar Zameen Productions, was posted nearly a year ago, in December 2012, according to the group’s Facebook page.
There is no reference to Reunion by Google India, but The Reg has reached out to the Chocolate Factory asking for a response.
As an aside, several netizens have also criticised Google's ad for its idealistic interpretation of the easy process required to obtain a visa to travel between India and Pakistan. In reality it's an onerous task for most citizens. ®