Every time a Hindi movie hits the screen, we see references to some Hollywood, Korean, German, Italian or Antarctican movie on the Reader's Reviews page.
It is quite obvious the current potboiler 'Rajneeti' derives inspiration from 'Mahabharata'. In fact it is a Political version of the 1981 Shyam Benegal Classic 'Kalyug'. But our critics are hellbent upon drawing parallels with 'The Godfather'. That is why I decided to write this.
Though I am reasonably comfortable with all the South Indian languages and Hindi, English is the only offshore language I understand. Because of this lacuna, I am severely handicapped when it comes to bragging about which foreign language movie has inspired our latest native hit.
This applies to South Indian movies too. Kannada and Telugu filmdoms have thrived by making carbon copies of Tamil or Malayalam originals. Very often the inspired versions have raked in more money than the originals. The best case in reference is the stupendous Rajnikanth hit 'Chandramukhi' which was a remake of Kannada hit 'Aaptha Mitra' which in itself was inspired by the Fazil's 1993 hit 'Manichithratazhu' in Malayalam.
Fazil's one time junior Priyadarshan remade an almost parody of this movie with the immensely forgettable 'Bhool Bhulaiya' in Hindi. The indignation of Malayalees and converted Mallus like me apart, we have to accept the fact that all the three remade versions grossed big money; much bigger than Fazil could ever imagine when he made his original! The people of respective states and the entire Hindi heartland endorsed the remade versions often denounced by critics and the 'Anti-Remake' activists.
So what am I going to express here? Very simple, a good plot with a tight script and decent narration can win the audiences anywhere in any language. But if you don't understand what is being talked in a movie, half the fun is lost.
Something like 'Pushpak' happens once in a life time. It is very important to understand the language. Imagine movies like 'Sholay' or 'Saudagar' minus the sensational dialogues. They wouldn't be iconic today but for those gems!
I remember two Tamil boys from my senior batch watching 'Saudagar' in 1991. They couldn't understand a single word of the exchange between Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar. One of them went on pestering me, "Aye Machcha, what are they talking da?". The other even suggested, "Why don't they put subtitles da?".
My experience with subtitles has been pathetic. They distract like hell and are often downright wrong. I decided not to watch subtitled movies after an exasperating encounter watching RGV's 'Sarkar'.
My other problem is with English movies. Their culture, lingo and mostly the accent are alien to me and many like me. In spite of my love for the English language, I am a die hard 'Desi' in taste when it comes to Movies, Music and Mundiyas. Brown is my favorite color, not white! So even the best of Classics sometimes come out as drags because the dialogues go over the head.
This is why I like guys like Vikram Bhat and Ananth Mahadevan. They might have copped a lot of flak and been branded as plagiarizers or copycats. I actually look at what they have done as translation. Some vernacular classics have been translated in to English and many more foreign languages. Indian epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana have found a place in world literature due to translation.
Some very popular novels of Telugu and Malayalam writers are regularly translated and published in other languages. Those intellectuals who don't complain about these works of remade literature, become holier than though when it comes to remade movies. Kannada and Telugu film-makers have always faced this discrimination.
There also is a lot of mud-slinging among the public too. When a Tamil movie is remade in Kannada or Telugu, the Tamil netizens go hammer and tongs at the lack of originality and so on. They conveniently ignore the fact that some of their biggest hits were remakes from Malayalam or even Hindi!
I am a huge admirer of original work and Indian literature in vernacular languages. But what is wrong in borrowing a good idea from another language or region and presenting it with native colors, ethos and language? I don't understand French or Korean languages and am too old to learn new languages. So I will be definitely happy if someone presents some good movies with Indianized vision.
This isn't in defense of of many of those horrible remakes released every Friday in every language in India. More than 3 versions of the Unfaithful have made it to the screen in India. But only Mahesh Bhat's 'Murder' starring the temptress Mallika Sherawat and serial Kisser Emran Hashmi made the cut.
This is in support of some of those very decent recycled versions from other languages and cultures that have managed to entertain us. Even Sholay was supposed to have been inspired by 'For a few Dollars More'. I haven't watched the English movie. Not only me, but an entire nation knows Sholay is a legend!
We are a people who translate European jokes into Indian languages, put a Sardar in place of the Pole and circulate them through SMS. But a hint of inspiration in any movie and we go, "Another of those copied craps". I sincerely believe we should chuck out our double standards.
I would prefer to watch a decently made remake which I can understand rather than a Classic which I will not be able to understand one bit! One thing though, please acknowledge the original work and pay the royalty or IPR where it is due.
Finally, even with the best of intentions and efforts, some inspired pieces of work may not inspire the audience. That doesn't mean we have to condemn the whole genre and keep watching insipid native stuff or subtitled Latin movies.
'Dil Hai ke Maanta Nahin' was a cute recycled version of Raj Kapoor - Nargis classic 'Chori Chori'. And 'Chori Chori' too was inspired by the 1934 Hollywood Classic 'It Happened One night'. If we look back, we have 3 good movies to cherish.
No Remakes Please, We are Indians ! The word 'Remake' sucks. I prefer to call these movies "Inspired" or "Translated" !