Ghajini, Bodyguard, Singham, Rowdy Rathore — remakes of South Indian films are not new in Bollywood. But in 2017, the trend has accelerated, with at least five films in the pipeline. The year begins with OK Jaanu, remake of Tamil film OK Kanmani (2015). Bejoy Nambiar is remaking Tamil film, Agni Natchathiram, and Prakash Raj is remaking Malayalam film Salt N’ Pepper as Tadka. RS Prasanna, who directed Tamil film, Kalyana Samayal Saadham (2013), is teaming up with Aanand L Rai for a Hindi remake, and cinematographer PC Sreeram, who worked on Telugu hit Remo, has announced there are talks of a remake.
So, what makes the formula click? “You are mitigating the risk completely when remaking south movies, because we already have a successful formula. You remake a project, Bollywood-ise it,fill in a few songs and you are set,” says trade analyst Omar Qureshi, adding: “You can uncook and recook. In a remake, you are getting a frozen meal and you are thawing and serving it.”
Trade analyst Atul Mohan adds: “You already have a certain buzz in the market because that particular film has already done well. It makes your job easier to present the remake to the audience.”
- “You are mitigating the risk completely when remaking south movies. You are getting a frozen meal and you are thawing and serving it,” says trade analyst Omar Qureshi
- “You already have a certain buzz in the market because that particular film has already done well,” says trade analyst Atul Mohan
Still there’s a lot of thought that goes into it. Like getting remake rights, and the star cast right... “There are two things primarily. First, will the producer gain something? Secondly, and most importantly, does the story need to be retold? There are times when a film like Drishyam (2015) gets limited to Malyalam, but it was such a fantastic film. I had watched the original, and felt the need for it to go to a wider audience,” says its filmmaker Nishikant Kamat, who also made Force (2011), a remake of Tamil film Kaakha Kaakha (2003).
Filmmaker Satish Kaushik, who directed Tere Naam (2003), feels the way a film is adapted makes all the difference. “South ki configurations, relationships vagerah alag hoti hain. Northern belt ke liye kaise adapt kar sake usse, yeh bahut zaroori hota hai (The relationships and configurations are different in the south. It is important to adapt it for the northern belt),” he says.
Actor Kajal Aggarwal, who starred in Singham (2011), sees no harm in remakes if there is a good script and the content has a national appeal. “The south does offer great scripts, and creatively they are extremely strong,” she says. Actor Taapsee Pannu, who features in upcoming film, Tadka, adds: “Audiences are not coming in with a baggage to test if you’re going to be as good or not in the remake.”
- They (the audience) are not coming in with a baggage to test you if you are going to be as good or no,” says actor Taapsee Pannu
- “I see no harm in remaking if there is a good script and the content has a national appeal,” says actor Kajal Aggarwal
But there’s also a downside — Bollywood’s image as an industry that lacks strong, original content. “There seems to be a bankruptcy of ideas, which Bollywood kind of glosses over with big stars and shooting overseas. Very few people are really thinking. Also, the sensibilities you are appealing to might not be the same. For instance, Makkhi (2012) was universally appreciated, but how many people are going to try and remake that? How many Bollywood heroes would want to be seen as a fly?” says Qureshi.
There’s also pressure on filmmakers. Kaushik adds that while remakes work most of the times, there have been instances when they have not done so well. “Mushkilat yeh hoti hai ki picture itni superhit hui hoti hai toh aapko responsibility hoti hai ki aap uske baraabar ki picture toh banaao kam se kam (The difficult part is that the original has been such a superhit, that you have a responsibility to match up),” he says. However, Kamat adds: “More than a pressure, it is an honour. On that note, you start a film, and if you can surpass the original, then nothing like it. But it’s very difficult, because the original will always be the better version.”
Hit Bollywood remakes:
Bodyguard (2011): Remake of Malayalam film of the same name (2010)
No Entry (2005): Remake of Tamil film Charlie Chaplin (2002)
Ghajini (2010): Remake of Tamil film of the same name (2005)
Housefull 2 (2012): Remake of Malayalam film Mattupetti Machan (1998)
Singham (2011): Remake of Tamil film Singam (2010)
Saathiya (2002): Remake of Tamil film Alaipayuthey (2000)
Hera Pheri (2000): Remake of Malayalam film Ramji Rao Speaking (1989)
Ready (2011): Remake of Telugu film of the same name (2008)
Drishyam (2015): Remake of Malayalam film of the same name (2013)
Rowdy Rathore (2012): Remake of Telugu film Vikramarkudu (2006)