The Business of “Copy Cats”

UZMA BHAT

The word ‘Copy Cats’ makes me wonder why the ‘cat’ was saddled with a prefix like this and not any other animal. When I was 14, no amount of questioning to my elders revealed the answer. Moreover, I was requested to point my energies into more sound and useful directions. My mother offered to follow up that advise with a whack should I not stop. I promptly did. The internet was missing those days. Thankfully I have it today to answer my queries.

Now, copy cats exists everywhere, starting from ones at home. My brother being the eldest. His siblings would copy him, so says my mother, in every manner possible. This especially irked her when it came to their food habits. He disliked vegetables in any form and so did the siblings. He asked her to point out a kid who doesn’t and she doesn’t agree. People tell him it must be nice to have his siblings idolise him so much, but the truth is now they tell him that he was the cause of their terrible fashion sense in the past and so on.

It is a universal truth that kids start aping their parents. In our house, though, I can’t recollect anyone seriously copying mother or father, though mother vehemently disagrees. We were wise at an early age and knew that copying our parents would have made us terribly old-fashioned.

Outside the house, there is rampant copying in culture. For instance, we send our child to a hobby class. Lo and behold! The neighbours enroll their kids in the same class to ensure that no one gets better than them. The same goes for interior styles, jewellery, birthday parties and so on.We truly have taken the art of copying to dizzying heights. An original idea gets copied and becomes the latest fad, to a point where the original gets buried and no one actually remembers it. But the result is similarity in diversity.

The fashion industry is another area .We didn’t use to have these fashion shows. They were ristricted to the West. Now we have several annual events and there is much news coverage for all of them. The magazines point out what fashion is in or what is not done, and soon everyone is wearing the same clothes. When I was growing up, this role would be played by the heroine of the latest movie, who would put her stamp on the current rag, like the Sadhana cut, for instance. We still have that, of course, like the Ghajini cut, which is a version of an Army cut, albeit more cleanly done with roads and pathways in between! Thankfully, schools have banned them, else my father wouldn’t know what to do if his son decided to get one. The haircut somehow makes you feel like the person is going slightly bonkers, as in the movie. This also reminds me that Ghajini is a copied version of the original in Tamil, which was dubbed into other regional languages and went on to become a hit in all of them. That is another copy cat for you!

TV serials are also sources of the latest fashion statements, as seen in sarees, jewellery and massive bindis, the likes of which have given my mother, aunts and even my father huge nightmares .

This copying business applies to all these reality shows, which are a new thing for us. Some have definitely been modified to suit Indian viewers, but the bottomline is that it’s a copied idea. The singing competition reality shows reward the one who copies the movie songs best. Original compositions are no longer interesting to watch .Thats true encouragement for copycats.

The only area where copying is still frowned upon officially is education, though, reports, notes, thesis are all copied from seniors or internet. So why is copying illegal in exams alone? I figure it is to discourage copying at a young age. After all, there is a whole lifetime ahead to do it. Besides, the young can get it wrong.

I still dont know why we say copy ‘cat’, rather than ‘ape’. Both synonymous terms bearing a similar meaning. I guess it offends our sensibilities, for the ape is quite ungainly. We would rather be compared to the far more graceful cat!

Uzma is a student of MCMP at Women College, MA Road, Srinagar.

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