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Dos and don'ts of re-makes

Don?s lukewarm opening has got directors re-strategising their remakes, says Vajir Singh.

india Updated: Oct 26, 2006 18:09 IST

So, Don didn’t exactly set the box office afire. With a star-studded cast and slick direction, the remake did bring in decent returns, but it has got the group of film-makers making remakes thinking about what makes a sequel click. A reckoner of the dos and don’ts that emerge from the film could be an interesting exercise.

Chandra Barot, director of the original Don, is from the no-re-makes school of thought. “I would not like to remake any film. But it’s an individual decision. I can’t talk on behalf of others. Teenagers coming out after watching the film tend to compare Don with Fast And Furious,” he says. “But if anybody could have carried off the role, it is Shah Rukh. Three decades back, I utilised the best talent available - that is what Farhan has also done. As for comparisons, I would leave them to the pundits and the audience.”

Kamal Sadanah, the son of Brij Sadanah, who directed Victoria No. 203, is producing his own take on his father’s movie. His version of Victoria No. 203 is directed by Anant Mahadevan. In the remake, Anupam Kher and Om Puri enact the roles made immortal by Pran and Ashok Kumar.

Mahadevan says the Banarasi facet of the smuggler played by Amitabh Bachchan wasn’t given much play in Akhtar’s film. “The concept of Don has been done to death. Unlike three decades back, when the word ‘don’ was a novelty we see a don character in every second movie these days.”

On his part, Mahadevan insists he has kept the fun spirit of the original intact. “Since Victoria No. 203 is about a diamond heist, there is ample scope for fun. Our screenplay has been keeping contemporary tastes in mind.”

The next big ‘sequel’ to hit theatres next week is JP Dutta’s Umrao Jaan, in which Aishwarya Rai enacts the role of the legendary Lucknow courtesan first played by Rekha in the 1981 hit. Dutta insists that his film is not a take on the Muzaffar Ali epic. “It is not a remake but an adaptation of the original novel by Mirza Mohammad Haadi Ruswa. At a time when the Americanisation of India is reflected in most of our movies, we are returning to an en elegant era.” 

According to Piyush Roy, here are five films which should never be re-made:

- Mother India: It remains the dream role for every leading Hindi film heroine. Subsequent imitations of Nargis’ classic act have always fallen short.

- Mughal-e-Azam: Sanjay Leela Bhansali may have thought about a re-make, but there is more to the mother of all historicals than great visuals.

- Guide: SD Burman’s music and the twist in the tale apart, how would one match the sheer elegance of Waheeda Rahman’s performance?

- Silsila: Every subsequent adultery themedstory pits itself to unsparing comparisons to the Yash Chopra classic.

- Lagaan: There have been other movies centred on sports, but none captured the popular space like Lagaan. Leave the contemporary classic alone.

The seasoned filmmaker says he won’t strictly go by the book. “I have made a few changes, which I can’t reveal at the moment.”

One of the biggest names rolling out of the sequels factory is Ram Gopal Varma’s Sholay.

With the maverick filmmaker caught in a legal tangle over copyright issues, he is playing it safe by saying his is a contemporary version of the classic. “I can’t have villains riding horses. My film is set entirely in Mumbai.”

A lot of star value is riding on the rage of remakes. If Amitabh Bachchan plays Gabbar Singh in RGV’s version of Sholay, Fardeen Khan will enact the role his father played in Qurbani and Abhishek Bachchan will play a character enacted by the inimitable Dev Anand in Johnny Mera Naam.

Anand appears to be a hit with the re-make makers with Rituparno Ghosh also announcing Rahgeer, his take on Guide with Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan. Also coming: David Dhawan’s Amar, Akbar, Anthony with Salman Khan, Arbaaz Khan and Sohail Khan in the roles played by Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna and Rishi Kapoor.

There is no set formula to the box office fate of remakes. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas, despite criticism from certain critics, made the cash registers jingle.

The trick, says trade analyst Indu Mirani, lies in choosing your subjects carefully “You can’t remake something which everyone remembers. The film-makers should leave the classics alone - there are plenty of other good stories around.”

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E-mail the author at vajir.singh@hindustantimes.com