The story of true fakes

Published: Oct 06, 2009, 08:50 IST | SR Ramakrishna

If you've been on the Malaysia-Indonesia tourist circuit, you will surely have come across those unbelievably well-produced fake watches at their little wayside shops.

If you've been on the Malaysia-Indonesia tourist circuit, you will surely have come across those unbelievably well-produced fake watches at their little wayside shops.

They call them replicas, and you can buy replicas of expensive brands, such as Tag Heuer or Police, for as little as Rs 300.

If you are the sort with a taste for expensive stuff but no income to match (and most of us are that sort!), you might be tempted to pick up one of those, and flaunt it on your wrist.

In India we call them 'duplicates'.

The 'duplicate' business is big, and every few days, we hear about the police busting a gang producing counterfeit products. It happens everywhere.

An electrician I know has astounding stories to tell about 'authorised dealers' for big electrical brands in Bangalore's Chickpet-Balepet area. Some of the less scrupulous sorts, he tells me, are so good at counterfeiting that they stock originals and fakes on the same shelf, and even representatives of the company can't tell the difference.

The counterfeiters of an earlier generation were easier to catch out. In Mumbai, for instance, everyone knew what 'Made in USA' meant: 'Made in Ulhasnagar Sindhi Association'.

This run-up is for a curious story from the world of music. A classical musician in Bangalore has been going around with an injured look ever since he sang a song for a film, and his guru was credited for it.

Now, it is perfectly possible that a song sung by one can be credited to another, but then, whose fault is it if you fake a Tag Heuer and people actually mistake it for a Tag Heuer? Was it their fault that they took you at face value and believed you? Or should they have ripped open the case and found that it was something else?

In art, the imitators do pretty well, but then they often compare themselves to someone original and
successful, and feel indignant. Kumar Sanu got himself a significant number of songs by imitating Kishore Kumar, but he didn't last very long.

For a couple of years, we also heard of a Rafi imitator called Shabbir Kumar. He similarly faded away.
In Bangalore, as in other cities, you will find good imitators at the 'orchestras' that entertain the crowds at wedding receptions and such other events.

They earn a bit, but they aren't in the same league as the original singers when it comes to fame or money. Which, if you ask me, is as it should be.

Coming back to where we began, I don't know if you can impress the opposite sex by flaunting fake luxury watches and stuff. Perhaps you can.

But I have a niggling suspicion with fakes. The watches will in most cases work well and tell the time. And even if I made a dazzling impression on the brand-crazy sorts, I'd still know I was wearing a fake. And I'd despise such a pretender!

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