For decades, Bollywood seems to have been inspired — in terms of stories and themes — by its American counterpart: Hollywood. But now, it looks like Hindi film-makers are looking away from American shores, at least when it comes to official remakes.
Currently, more than half-a-dozen non-Hollywood films are in various stages of production in Bollywood.
Coming to India
For starters, Karan Johar and Guneet Monga are set to team up for the Indian remake of the 2011 French comedy-drama, The Intouchables.
"The international performance of The Intouchables validates its commercial potential and we are confident that the film will do great business in India too," Monga told an American magazine.
Meanwhile, the 2006 French hit, Priceless, is also on the remake bandwagon. Apparently, Karan has asked Dostana (2008) director Tarun Mansukhani to develop the script for the remake with Sidharth Malhotra in the lead. In the meantime, an official remake of the Spanish film Only Human (2004), called Total Siyappa, starring Ali Zafar and Yami Gautam is set to release on March 7.
So why does Bollywood not seem interested in Hollywood anymore?
"Firstly, a number of Hollywood films find their way to Indian theatres anyway. Secondly, their budgets are so high that remakes won’t be a feasible option. Also, most Hollywood studios have their presence in India now, so why would they sell their movie remake rights to an Indian producer? The storylines of non-Hollywood films are interesting and have a novelty factor," says film-maker Sanjay Gupta.
Gupta should know, considering he is set to direct an official remake of a hit foreign-language film, the offer for which came from a Hollywood-based production house. The film-maker, however, is "contractually bound" to not reveal details.
His Shootout At Wadala (2013) co-star John Abraham has bought the rights to a South Korean hit, The Man From Nowhere (2010), which will be directed by Nishikant Kamat.
Why it might work
"Buying rights from Hollywood studios might not be a financially viable option for our producers. Besides, Hollywood might be high on spectacle and budget, but cinema from other parts of the world can also be a winner in terms of performances and storylines," explains film-maker Rohan Sippy, who directed Nautanki Saala — based on the 2003 French comedy film, Après Vous, last year.
That’s not all. Hansal Mehta is directing the Rajkummar Rao-starrer Citylights, an Indian remake of Metro Manila. The 2013 British-Filipino film, which was directed by Sean Ellis, was the British entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.
Even film-maker Rajesh Bhatia is working on a remake of He Yue Qing Ren (Contract Lover), a 1998 hit Chinese rom-com.
"Why not? If those films have been watched by a wide number of audiences — but not Indian viewers — they ought to have something special in them. And as long as the storylines are appealing and relatable, there’s nothing wrong in remaking them,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.
Murder 3: The 2013 film was an official remake of Colombian thriller, The Hidden Face (2011).
Players: The 2012 dud was an official remake of the 2003 Hollywood film, The Italian Job, which itself was a remake of a 1969 British caper.
Bheja Fry: The 2007 hit comedy was reportedly based on the French movie, Le Dîner de Cons (1998).
Karan Johar back in black.