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Yesterday once more

Abhishek playing Dev Anand in Johnny Mera Naam? The trend of revisiting old classics is here to stay.

india Updated: Jun 22, 2006 18:31 IST

What's common between directors JP Dutta, Ram Gopal Varma, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, David Dhawan, Feroz Khan and Farhan Akhtar? They have either remade or remaking old Hindi films.

While Dutta is revisiting Umrao Jaan with Aishwarya Rai in the lead, Varma is rehashing Sholay, with Big Bachchan playing Gabbar Singh.

Bhansali has already paid a tribute to Bimal Roy's Devdas  with his own grand version with Shah Rukh Khan while SRK again plays Bachchan's Don in Akhtar's version.

Last but not the least is Dhawan taking on Amar Akbar Anthony with the three Khan brothers – Salman, Sohail and Arbaaz while Feroz Khan is remaking his own Qurbani with son Fardeen.

And the latest we hear is Suniel Shetty's production company joining hands with producer Shabbir Boxwala to remake the Dev Anand-Hema Malini gem, Johnny Mera Naam with Abhishek Bachchan.

While Bollywood is known to draw inspiration from the west, the latest trend seems to be looking into our own backyard for these directors. They call it 'interpreting the old films' keeping in with their individual filmmaking sensibilities.

Besides, with technology far more advanced today, these filmmakers also capitalise on the emotional appeal of the old plots.

Boxwala says, "We are definitely toying with the idea of remaking Johnny Mera Naam. But we need to acquire the rights from Rajiv Rai (whose father Gulshan Rai produced the original)."

He adds: "Rajiv is not in town. Once he's back can the talks go further." So is Abhishek Bachchan playing the role of Dev Anand? Boxwala is mum and AB's baby is clueless.

If the biggies are into remaking old films, then the middle rung directors too are not far behind. For instance, Anant Mahadevan wants to recreate the Ashok Kumar-Pran starrer Victoria No 203 with Om Puri and Paresh Rawal respectively.

Says Mahadevan, "The interesting part is that the Victoria still exists in Mumbai, so my film will have the combination of old world charm and today's technique. We're working on getting the combination dates of Paresh Rawal and Om Puri, that done, we'll start shooting."

The K-soap queen Ekta Kapoor too had nurtured a desire to remake the Nutan film, Saraswati Chandra with Satish Kaushik directing it but there has been no news on that.

Pritish Nandy Communications too intends to remake Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam with Priyanka Chopra as the bibi but since neither sahib nor ghulam, are in place, the project is stuck.

Rituparno Ghosh too is re making Guide with Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan though last heard Dev Anand was not too happy with anybody tampering with the original.

So what gets directors interested in remakes? For one, remakes appear to be a safer bet for the producers. It is a tried-and-tested formula after all.

Last year turned out to be a remake bonanza – as Bimal Roy's Parineeta, a 50s romance against a Bengali backdrop worked well in Pradeep Sarkar's remake version while Shah Rukh Khan too chose Mani Kaul's Duvidha, to be remade under his banner as Paheli.

But only Parineeta clicked with the audience. The varying box office fate of these remakes just showed that there is no formula for success in showbiz, not even remakes of hit classics.

"It depends on how you change the script keeping today's audience in mind. I was too young when Don released, so I don't remember much about the film. So, I would definitely watch Shah Rukh's Don. As long as filmmakers know the taste of today's audience, it's fine," says distributor Rakesh Sippy.

Is the remake rage sweeping Hindi cinema today? Some filmmakers feel it's better to go back to your own stories and retell them than ape foreign films. "We have so many old classics that we need not look for inspiration elsewhere," feels Suneel Darshan.

While critics lament that the trend stems from the dearth of original scripts, filmmakers are defensive saying that these fabulous stories must be retold.

"Earlier too filmmakers copied yesteryear hits but now they're acknowledging it. It happens in Hollywood and now in Bollywood too. May be, now our directors are tired of copying the west and to add songs and also mould it according to Indian sentiments, so it's better to copy an old hit which has everything in it," says trade analyst Vinod Mirani.

And may be just maybe by retelling old classics, the cinemas too will see a surge of an audience which has grown up on them and wouldn't mind taking a trip down memory lane with today's stars.