Sunday, September 20, 2009

Yet Another Bollywood Remake!

While the Bollywood remakes of Hollywood films have been stirring up the media recently, with Govinda's Banda Yeh Bindas Hai being ordered to pay 20th Century Fox $200,000 before it can be released because it is a "remake" of My Cousin Vinny to reviewers claiming that every other film released is "inspired" from one Hollywood film or another, nobody has taken a good look at some of the films that are actually remakes of southern films. Actual remakes and not just some reviewer drawing parallels where there are none...

Bollywood tends to treat southern films like a poor country cousin - unfashionable and barely tolerated in public but behind closed doors, we're all family.

Ghajini, the highest grossing film of 2008 was a southern remake, as is Wanted, which is on track to be one of the big hits of 2009. Billu, which didn't really catch on, is a remake, as is Bhool Bhuliya, which did.

As I start watching more and more southern films, I've been realizing that all the masala goodness that is missing from most recent Bollywood hits is still very present in southern films. Evil villains, dishoom-dishoom, village fetes, improbable plot twists, and dangerously curvy vamps all still exist in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, etc. language films. As Bollywood becomes more Westernized, with films cutting back running times, song picturizations, and heroines' weights, it's no wonder that a certain segment of the Hindi-language film viewing audience has swarmed to the southern remakes.

Have Bollywood scriptwriters lost the ability to write masala over the last couple of years? The last Filmfare Award for Best Villain was given out in 2007 to Saif Ali Khan for Omkara, itself a remake of a Shakespeare play, who was pretty darn masala for a 16th century Englishman.


Maybe it's the NYU-educated scriptwriters coming back to Mumbai and find that they don't know how to write a proper bad guy or how to film the perfect dishoom-dishoom scene. Maybe it's the influence of the critics, who prefer sedate middlebrow films like Luck by Chance to the home-grown masala that pushes filmmakers away.

Or maybe it's the Bollywood intelligentsia who don't want to give home-grown masala films like Raaz: The Mystery Continues attention - despite the fact that these films make money. It's cooler to do the southern remakes because they are REmakes and won't tarnish the reputations of western-approval seeking folks because, well, "WE didn't write that, so it's okay."

Or maybe Ghajini was okay because they could pretend it was a remake of Memento instead of a southern film.

I don't know.

All I do know is that I'm kind of ridiculously excited for this little bit of gossip - Hrithik Roshan is being considered for the lead in a Hindi remake of Telugu blockbuster Magadheera (link is to the PPCC's review of the original)!

In lieu of original Bollywood masala, I will gladly accept remakes of Telugu films. Just keep them coming...


Anonymous said...

I agree completely with your article. I just don't understand the condescending nature towards the southern industries.
Many of the finest bollywood actresses have roots in the south. Vyjayanthimala,Padmini, Hema Malini, Rekha, Sridevi, Jayaprada, Tabu are from the south. Even the great Waheeda Rehman's first film was a telugu film. She was from hyderabad. After watching this song, Guru dutt casted her in his movies:
The trend of remaking southern films is not a new one thoguh. Sridevi,the biggest star of her era who used command equal remuneration to her leading man(today's top tier heroines barely get 1/6 th to 1/10th of the money their hero gets, practically owes her career to remakes of the telugu hit movies during the initial days. So, do Jeetendra and Boney Kapoor.
I am not entirely thrilled with the recent remakes. Unless someone like Aamir(or hrithik) is a part of the project, they usually
make a mincemeat of the original. But i have to say, if Hrithik agrees to be in the remake of Magadheera, i'll be thrilled.


Filmi Girl said...

Oh, interesting comments!!

I agree that unless the southern film has a big Hero attached to it, then it will probably be pretty lame... :(

Filmi Girl said...

I meant the remake - not the original!! LOL!

Sadly, Kunal Khemu just wouldn't have the clout to insist on the kinds of improvements that an Aamir Khan or Hrithik Roshan would be able to do.

martoufmarty said...

You know, I think Hollywood should stop getting mad at Bollywood for all the remakes and HAVE A LOOK AT THEMSELVES.

All that really seems to come out of Hollywood nowadays are remakes of old Hollywood films (ie: Rear Window - Disturbia), remakes of Asian films (ie: Janghwa Hongryeon - The Uninvited), or adaptations from other writings like novels or comic books (ie: The Time Traveler's Wife, Iron Man, Whiteout).

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Filmi Girl said...


Actually, I think Hollywood is getting litigious with Bollywood over remakes because they want to either a) finance their own remakes or b) earn money by having Indian studios cough up cash for the rights.

ajnabi said...

I just hope that Wanted's success leads to more people looking up the original--more recognition of Southern awesomeness can only be a good thing. :-)

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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