After Vidya Balan's remark on Mother India, the debate about remakes is the talk of the town. Balan said, "I don't think anybody would even dare to remake Mother India and if someone does then I will salute him, but I will not do it. It is unachievable, really."
We agree, Vidya! Classics are not meant for remakes. Remaking may not be a new idea in Bollywood. But there have been too many remakes recently that have received flak from film critics. Bollywood critic Mayank Shekhar says that remakes are not really a bad idea if the intentions are right. The critic further says, "If the idea is to lift the storyline and not capture the spirit of the classic, then the battle is pretty much lost. For a lot of people, that was the case with Chashme Baddoor, David Dhawan's remake."
Good or bad, we believe not every movie can be remade. Here, we list top 20 movies of Bollywood that should simply remain untouched. 1. Mother India (1957)
Mehboob Khan made Mother India with actors like Nargis and Sunil Dutt in 1957. Little would have any of them known that they were in the process of making a cult film for their country. Mother India, was a revolutionary film in its own right, enabling the woman protagonist to take the rebellious step of going against her own son and killing him. The film also embodied the Indian culture of self-sacrifice. 2. Pyaasa (1957)
Guru Dutt's Pyaasa remains a legend for filmmakers and film lovers alike. The pathos of an artist in a commerical society and his yearn for love have been portrayed with so much conviction, you simply can't resist empathizing with the protagonist Vijay (played by Guru Dutt). 3. Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)
Kishore Kumar has made several comedies but Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi was a cult in itself. The movie featured all three Kumar brothers - Kishore Kumar, Ashok Kumar and Anoop Kumar. The three brothers succeed in creating a wonderful comic experience for the audience. 4. Mughal-e-Azam (1960)
K Asif's Mughal-e-Azam was not only an award-winning venture but it also proved to be a milestone in the history of Indian cinema. One of the best performances of Madhubala, the film wonderfully portrayed the love between a prince and his servant, the royal Mughal era and the nuances of class divisions in the contemporary society of Mughal rule.
Now, attempting a remake of Mughal-e-Azam would be really difficult. The sheer royal treatment, which at first is difficult to re-create, may also find few takers with new faces. 5. Gumnaam (1965)
One of the oldest and well executed mystery thrillers of Hindi film industry, Gumnaam boasts of famous names like Manoj Kumar, Nanda, Pran, Helen and Mehmood among others. A group of seven people suddenly win a holiday trip and are stranded on a deserted island in mid-way. The mystery of the killer and the consipracy continues to haunt the audience till the climax. 6. Aaradhna (1969)
Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore starrer Aaradhna tells the story of a new India coming to terms with modern people in traditional societies. Rajesh Khanna's Mere Sapno Ki Rani in his legendary style continues to echo through romantic drives till date. 7. Anand (1971)
Hrishikesh Mukherji directed two legendary actors of his time Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna together in Anand. The story of a man who is about to die but is willing to go all out to bring happiness in everyone's life touched a chord with the massses. The sweet friendship between the lead actors leaves a mark on every viewer's soul. 8. Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971)
Devanand and Zeenat Aman's sibling chemistry in the film made everyone crazy. The movie plays majorly on the hippies of the era that stayed in a few Himalayan towns. The songs were chartbusters and Dum Maaro Dum still remains in the memories of the audiences. 9. Pakeezah (1972)
Kamal Amrohi's famous tale of a courtesan Shahibjaan, Pakeezah had a new perspective and angle to hitherto repeated stories on courtesans. Be it music like Chalo Dildaar Chalo or the sets of a Lucknow mansion or the sheer melody of the thumris, the film was an experience in its own right. The film was not doing much on the box offices before news came in about the tragic death of Meena Kumari, just two months after the release of the movie. 10. Deewar (1975)
Written by Salim-Javed, the dialogues of this Yash Chopra film are still quoted everywhere from daily life to stand-up comedians. The melodramatic story of two brothers having treaded paths that are poles apart and their fight thereafter - quite typical of Bollywood, remains a classic. 11. Chupke Chupke (1975)
Hrishikesh Mukherji has given a number of hilarious movies to the film industry but Chupke Chupke continues to be one of his most favoured classics. The story of a practical joke comes out in refreshingly remarkable way. 12. Sholay (1975)
There was one classic that Ram Gopal Varma attempted to remake, Sholay. Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag not only proved a dud on the box offices but also received flak from the critics. Perhaps here was one lesson that out filmmakers ought to learn! 13. Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978)
Raj Kapoor made this story in an era when melodrama was in vogue already. With his story of a village girl trying hard to attract the attention of her ungrateful husband, Raj Kapoor brought to life the independence within each suffering woman in his contemporary India. 14. Arth (1982)
Mahesh Bhatt, with actors like Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Kulbhushan Kharbhanda and Rajkiran. The movie was a stepping stone in the path of Indian commerical cinema. Shabana Azmi plays the deserted wife left to fend for her own self. The story, acting and the complete treatment of Arth is one that leaves impact on the viewer's mind. 15. Angoor (1982)
Based on Shakespeare's Comedy Of Errors, famous poet and lyricist Gulzar made Angoor with Sanjeev Kumar, Deepti Naval and Moushmi Chatterjee. The confusion of husbands turns out well and entertains the audience. 16. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983)
A dark satire on the contemporary politics of the country, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron is still remebered. Kundan Shah made the satire with Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapoor, Om Puri and Vidhu Vinod Chopra. The film was not an huge success instantly but later it was considered a cult classic. 17. Khaamosh (1985)
Vidhu Vinod Chopra's masterpiece Khaamosh is one of the best thrillers from Bollywood. With veteran actors like Amol Palekar, Soni Razdan and Shabana Azmi, Pankaj Kapoor, Naseerudin Shah and Suhdir Misra, Vidhu Vinod Chopra manages to maintain the pressure of a suspense thriller throughout the movie. The script of the movie too wonderfully holds the suspense till the climax. 18. Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986)
Basu Chatterjee's Chameli Ki Shaadi was based on the Om Prakash Sharma novel. Starring Anil Kapoor, Amrita Singh and Annu Kapoor, the film generated a very natural, enjoyable act. The simplicity and natural essence reminds you of Hrishikesh Mukherji and yet it is different. 19. Andaz Apna Apna (1994)
Andaz Apna Apna, one of the few films starring both Salman Khan and Aamir Khan. The movie did not earn much at the box office but has gained the stature of a classic comedy with time. This Rajkumar Santoshi's film was a new take on comedy of errors. Both Salman and Aamir succeed in making the film a hilarious experience. 20. Kaun (1999)
A watchable and admirable thriller from Ram Gopal Varma, Kaun also established Urmila Matondkar as an actor of variety. Featuring staunch actors like Manoj Bajpayee and Sushant Singh, Kaun emerges as a grasping thriller that keeps you hooked. Anurag Kashyap's screenplay keeps the audiences bound on their chairs.
Film critic Mayank Shekhar also believes that a remake should intend at telling the story with new twists and interpretations. Rendering better use of technology to the original is where the filmmaker's creativity comes in, he adds. "If you don't have a compelling reason, outside the fact that you don't have story to tell, then it is just plagiarism," says Shekhar.
We also sought the opinions of some independent viewers and here's what they said:
Saumya Baijal, co-founder, Aatish (NGO/Theatre Group), feels that remakes of classics should only be done if certain amount of value can be added to the original storyline, film craft or the narrative. Baijal says, "There are certain films that are so deeply etched in our minds that using the name, first increases expectations, and then when the depiction (creative license included) does not do justice to the core of the already legendary film, as an audience one feels thwarted and cheated.
Sharique Khan, a reporter with NDTV, feels that remakes should not always be judged. He further says that filmmakers remaking an old classic may not always be a lack of ideas. If the treatment is good enough, remakes are not a bad idea, Khan concludes.
Avinash Kumar Singh, lawyer and partner at a law firm, however, feels quite differently. Avinash says that remakes are a straight insult to the classic. For him, attempting to recreate the magic of a legendary film is an insult to the classics. Avinash says, "Remakes basically represent a lack of innovative story tellers. Hard core money makers are reproducing the old hits, just to make money."
Anubha Anushree, a Delhi University professor feels it is all about money. She says, “Most of these remakes have a targeted niche audience that comes from the generation of the particular movie but they are also aiming to create a market for nostalgia. They look like they are dedicated to the oldies in age, but be under no illusion, they are there to commercialize a specific kind of investment, like old Hindi film channels- nostalgia which all of us suffer with at some point, old or young.”
If you watch Hindi movies, you certainly have an opinion to share on this issue. Do you think remakes are a good way to introduce new generation to timeless classics? Or do you feel classics should remain untouched? Share your views with us.
Also, if you feel we have missed a few classics in that list, feel free to share.