Remake – a term that is more popular in Bollywood than nepotism. There is a craze that began in the late 2000s, and the Hindi film industry is growing stronger by the day. If a handful of filmmakers have found the hit formula in the Hindi remake of successful South films, others have not hesitated to touch the classic films of the Hindi pantheon. Such is the obsession with rehashes that a handful of remakes are making their way to the big screen every year. While most of these are visual-to-visual copies of the original, others are lost in translation.
However, this is hardly a deterrent for production houses who are continually making grand announcements about their large “reconstruction” projects. Karan Johar is now excited to bring the Vijay Devarakonda beloved comrade in front of Bollywood fans after trying to recreate the Marathi film ‘Sairat’ as a sub-Dadda. Inspired by the box office success of Kabir Singh (another Hindi remake of the Vijay Devarakonda Telugu film Arjun Reddy), Karan wants to churn out another Hindi rehash of a Telugu film and gets caught in the bull’s eye on the ticket windows. Finally, we just saw the magic that Kabir Singh created at the box office.
A Money-Minting Business: Because that’s what most remakes are doing now – a box office success story, with a prepared script and well-developed characters in hand, the directors are left with the easy task of finding the right replacement for the star cast only. Case in point – Kabir Singh of Sandeep Reddy Vanga. Kabir Singh who viewed the original is a frame-to-frame reflection of Arjun Reddy. Every scene is a direct lift from the original, without even a fundamental change in the treatment of the script.
So what has Shahid Kapoor done in favour of Kabir Singh? First, the fact that it was made in Hindi, and was therefore accessible to a broad, all-India audience. Secondly, with Arjun Reddy landing on Amazon Prime, recently, the original film was out of reach of lovers who do not understand Telugu. Third, the love story between Kabir (Shahid Kapoor) and Preeti (Kiara Advani) resonated with many people, thus making it the biggest grosser of 2019 so far.
The filmmakers have found their hit formula in the remake, and are not reluctant to over-exploit this so-called golden swan. With Wanted, Ghajini, Rowdy Rathore, Simba breaking box office records, the remakes are where the money is.
But What About Originality?: At a time when most filmmakers are pushing the envelope and trying to bring something new to the table with each of their projects, a handful is happy serving and then serving the old wine in a new bottle. Operating away from the original material, these makers are glad to take the easy route of the remake. So don’t the directors have anything new to say? Are there any new stories?
Cinema has always been considered an expression of creativity. Movies either provide an escape for people to visualize or hold the mirror to society. And to bring these two aspects to the big screen, manufacturers need a vision, a new idea that is out of the box. This is why people sit and take care of the material at 70mm. And what exactly is she missing in the remake?
Lost In Translation: While some are shamelessly happy to put Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V to good use, others are giving a dazzling turn to such a busy regional cinema that everything is getting lost in translation. When Shashank Khaitan chose to remake Nagraj Manjule Marathi film Sairat (2016), it raised a lot of eyebrows because it seemed a little strange to imagine Manjula’s rural Romeo and Juliet saga with racist tension in Karan Johar-esque cinema.
And the producers did not disappoint their naysayers. To make it a Bollywood film, Kejo and Shashank presented a highly accurate and shiny version of Manjule’s film, thus almost destroying the apparent reality of the caste system that formed the backbone of Sairat. While there was a gap between the castes of the original lead actors, in Dhadak, the difference between the rank of girl and boy is all but non-existent. The caste difference was not as vast. And in his absence, Jhanvi Kapoor and Ishaan Khattar’s Dhaka became an ordinary underwater love story.
Rehashes In World Of Internet Is A Lousy Idea: For the highest time, filmmakers must justified remakes in the name of reach. They have seen the potential in the subject and doing it “reach” a more substantial audience has been the goal. But in the era of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar, and all your other OTT platforms, where content is just a voice command away, remakes seem like a lousy idea. Because each hit film does it to these Digital platforms within months of release, and that too with subtitles. Then there are dubbed films from the South on your television channels every afternoon. So why spend Rs 400 on a Hindi remake of a regional film that is readily accessible online or on TV?
It’s high time that Bollywood satisfies the ever-growing appetite of cinephiles with new content and not mere rehashes, and get them to fall in love with the world of cinema once again. Filmmakers need to take a look at the National Awards’ winners list, if nothing else requests to them – the most significant feature film awards this year from Bollywood have all gone to original scripts: Badhaai Ho, Andhadhund and Pad Man.
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