A take on Bollywood’s remake obsession
What goes wrong and what can be done better
As far as I remember, the Tamil movie Ratsasan was a spine-chilling murder mystery movie. When I saw a love song with lead actors (Akshay Kumar and Rakul Preet Singh) grooving to the peppy music I found it hard to believe that it was from the film that happened to be the remake of the same Ratsasan. I couldn’t decode any instance from the Ratsasan where such a song actually took place, or at least had an instance that gave the scope for such a scene. Yes, there’s a romantic stint between the lead actors but the focus of the movie lay entirely on the murder mystery. For those who went through a spine-chilling experience when they saw Ratsasan, Cuttputli not only failed to give them the scare they craved but also left them disappointed by ruining the authenticity of the original film. It is during moments like these that I start wondering; are remakes really necessary?
There isn’t a clear-cut answer to whether we should remake movies or not. Cuttputli is just one movie to cite. Laal Singh Chaddha by Aamir Khan was yet another remake that failed to impress the audience. But the real reason for this wasn’t necessarily the substandard adaptation of the original, which is common in Bollywood remakes. Maybe the film was just released at the wrong time, a time when audiences are tired of remakes and desperate for some original scripts. And because of this, even the well-adapted screenplay of Laal Singh Chaddha, which stood true to the original, couldn’t really get the attention of the audience.
Bollywood has been resorting to remakes a lot over the past few years. Some turned out good while some didn’t. While it is never wrong to remake a film, what matters is how you remake it. It is important that the remake stands true to the original. It is also important that the remake adapts the original script to its audience. The balance between these is what decides if a film is a good remake or a bad one.
Another aspect to be considered is that the growing consumption of content on OTT platforms has opened the doors to movies from all languages, breaking the regional barriers that existed before. Remaking a film that already has been viewed by a large audience on OTT may come across as repetition. Why would I want to watch a remake of a film that really touched me? Why would I want to corrupt/duplicate my memories of that film? While this is true, we still have a large audience that hasn’t been exposed to regional content yet (good subtitles have a role to play here), which makes them the ideal audience for these remakes.
The OTT boom has definitely raised the bar for the kind of content that people want today. The audience wants original, sensible and entertaining content which some remakes often fail to offer.
I watched Shahid Kapoor starrer Jersey because of my love for the original Telugu film by the same name. It was bland, unlike the original version that gave me a rush of emotions. The bleak performances and the slow-paced narration got me bored very quickly.
Remakes will always be compared to the original and that’s why it is crucial to stand true to the real version.
How much remake is too much remake? The frequency with which Bollywood has been producing remakes over the past couple of years (added with a lack of exciting content) has been putting off people a lot. You can’t remake every successful regional movie or depend on medal-winning sportspeople for content! There needs to be a balance.
Having said that, we have had some good remakes that offered a different perspective to the original story. Honestly, Laal Singh Chaddha is one of them. Ghajini, the remake of the Tamil film by the same name is another one on this list. Hera Pheri, Wanted, Mimi, and a few more go on the list.
The upcoming Bollywood remake Vikram Vedha has my hopes high for several reasons. The acclaimed director duo Gayathri-Pushkar (who directed the original) helming the remake is one of them.
In the end, it boils down to one thing; keeping the audience entertained, and it entirely depends on how the makers present their film. We as an audience are getting better with our choices and refrain from settling for mediocre films. It is imperative that the makers rise to the occasion to deliver authentic and entertaining content for the audience to consume.