Bollywood’s fascination with film remakes and book adaptations has been evident for some time now. This year alone, there have been several such releases — Shahid Kapoor's Haider (adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet), Salman Khan's Jai Ho (remake of Telugu film Stalin) and Hrithik Roshan-Katrina Kaif-starrer Bang Bang (remake of Hollywood film, Knight And Day), to name a few.
Initially, the trend was reserved for a few productions, but now, adaptations and remakes seem to have become a formula that an increasing number of film-makers are relying on. But, at the same time, this trend has also led many to wonder whether the Hindi film industry is truly facing a shortage of original stories for it to be continually looking at published literary works and already released films for inspiration.
Or is it the lack of good writers that is driving producers to rely on adaptations and remakes?
Not enough writers
Film-maker Vikramaditya Motwane, who has written and directed scripts like Udaan (2010) and Lootera (2013), feels the industry needs more writers. "There are good writers across the country, but I think they are just not finding the right channel to get into Bollywood," says Motwane. Motwane adapted O Henry's The Last leaf with Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh playing the lead roles for the film Lootera.
Veteran writer Salim Khan — one half of the legendary writer duo Salim-Javed (Javed Akhtar) — laments the lack of a reading culture and holds it responsible for the scarcity of good original stories. "Earlier, we used to read a lot, so we had so much material and good dialogues. But people don’t read any more. If people don’t read, then where will they get the material from?" says Salim.
Easy way out
Director Soumik Sen, who directed the Madhuri Dixit-starrer Gulaab Gang, feels that, for film-makers, remakes and adaptations are just an easier way of getting a project started. "Actors now don’t want to sit and listen to a narration, so the makers prefer sending them the DVDs of the films to give them an idea of what they are going to make," he says.
Producer-director Anurag Kashyap, who has written many of the films he has helmed — No Smoking (2007) and Gulaal (2009), for instance — says remakes are a business model and they work because there is an audience for them. "Some people in the industry are here only for that kind of business," adds Kashyap.
Upcoming remakes and adaptations include
(adapted from Bengali literature), book adaptations of Chetan Bhagat’s
and Half Girlfriend and an untitled remake of the 2005 Japanese film, The Devotion Of Suspect X, among others.
While a few directors like Kashyap and Imtiaz Ali have made their disinterest in helming remakes clear, there is still some time before the rest of the industry also tires of this trend. Till then, the phase will continue.