Authors: Sipra Tekriwal
A brochure at the 2004 Cannes festival proclaimed that filmmakers are at their most original when being unoriginal. What they probably meant was that a good film maker is more likely to make a good film even if it is a remake and a bad film maker is more likely to make a bad film, even if it is original! One then has to decide which is bad enough today, the originals or the remakes.
A series of remakes of Hindi classics are underway the latest being Zanjeer. Filmmakers are capitalizing on the emotional appeal of the old plots while trying to serve up old wine in new and fancy bottles. The end result sometimes is magical, but more often it is just a confused abominable remake.
The basic question arises is, “what exactly, sparks of a remake?” Is it the easy availability of material at hand? Is it the exciting urge to bring a universally acknowledged film to a whole new generation? Or is it simply playing safe by making a film that has already proved its credentials at the box office that any star today would agree to relive?
The remake rage seems to be not propelled by commercial considerations alone. Filmmakers urge that old stories need to be retold. Though the original movie gives the remake the initial publicity and audience, the challenge faced by the director while attempting a remake of a classic does not end at accommodating the tastes and sensibilities of the new generation, they need to fight the opposition posed by those resisting change. As stated by Dev Anand “The way I see it, a classic is something that has been honoured and appreciated. Why should anyone touch it?” But considering the need to bring the classic works to the notice of the younger generation, Priyanka Chopra rightly points out, “My generation may not watch old classics and miss out on them completely, what is the harm in retelling classics in a contemporary format? That way they would learn about our rich cinematic heritage.” (She is slated to play the leading role in the remake of Saheb, Biwi Aur Ghulam).
The current wave hitting Bollywood is to remake its old classics. In the past few years there have been increasing number of remakes few of them being:
- Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag – Butchered is the word for the much worse remake of the classic Sholay. What could be worse than both critics and audiences expressing disgust over the remake of a film that was not just a universal favourite but also an epic? To me, this film seems like a result of a long period of boredom on Varma’s part.
- Umrao jaan: Often, it is not very advisable to compare two legends and put them in the same shoes; the results can be hazardous. This fact is proved by the remake of the 1981 classic Umrao Jaan. The image of the original ‘Umrao’ Rekha still remains in the minds of the people and Aishwariya Rai could not even reach that level.
- Karzzz: The haunting yet beautiful music of the widely loved 1980 Karz is still hummed by Indians worldwide. Why, then, to screw it by making your own tasteless music and incorporating it in an equally tasteless remake? Himesh Reshamiya perhaps had nothing else to work on. The result? Karzzzz. If the number of ‘z’s’ in the name do not put you to sleep, the pathetic storyline and the acting certainly will.
- Agneepath - The remake of the old Amitabh Bachchan starrer Agneepath. This is one remake which has brought good reviews and appreciation. It is considered to be one the most appreciated remake, but still it bombed the box office.
According to me, what the filmmakers and audience also need to realise is that there are new stories out in the universe waiting to be told and minds waiting to wander. As Vidya Balan says in the popular ‘Dirty Picture’ that good films are only made up of three ingredients – entertainment, entertainment and entertainment, we need to expand our definitions of entertainment and accept originality that goes against the ‘popular’ notion.
I personally feel that classics or for that matter any movie should not be remade. Indian cinema today has gone way beyond just ordinary love stories. The audience is open to genres such as comedy, sci-fi and various other artistic films. We have seen movies such as My Brother Nikhil and Phir Milenge which talks about a yet taboo topic of AIDS. Though the movie didn’t hit well at the box office, it was critically acclaimed. Yet another example of the audience’s broad-minded attitude is the acceptance of the movie Guzaarish which talks about euthanasia.
To conclude, as a lot of attention is being garnered by the remakes Classic Bollywood movies considering the facts that original movies have been huge successes; there are many more remakes coming up. Few of the brilliant Indian classics like Seeta aur Geeta, Satte pe Satta, Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam and Angoor are being remade. Let’s have our fingers crossed and expectations low so Bollywood directors can suprise us with an awesome remake.