Nagarjuna, Karthi in Telugu/Tamil remake of The Intouchables

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 05, 2015 15:45 IST

This is certainly the age of film remakes. One after the other is popping out of the cans. Vamsi Paidipally, the Telugu director whose Brindavanam and Yevadu jingled the box office, is now set to remake a French movie, The Intouchables, with Tamil heartthrob Karthi, Telugu charmer, Nagarjuna, and actor Tamaannaah.

In Tamil Nadu, we are just savouring the remake of the Malayalam thriller, Drishyam, with Kamal Haasan stepping into the shoes of Mohanlal. Papanasam appears like a wonderful homecoming for Kamal. We see him as he once was, an engaging actor.

Haasan will soon be seen in another remake, Thoongavanam, culled out of the French thriller, Sleepless Night, helmed by Frederic Jardin in 2011. Prakash Raj will co-star with Kamal.

Paidipally's film has not yet been given a title, but will be shot extensively in Serbia. It is interesting to see Indian helmers and producers getting adventurous, and stepping outside familiar terrains like Switzerland, London, New York, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.

Now, who would have thought of shooting an Indian movie in Serbia. But then there is perhaps something that Paidipally discovered that we have not. Serbia was once part of Yugoslavia. Today, Serbia is a small independent nation, reputed for its elan and feisty defiance as well as one of the hottest destinations for night life. The rivers Danube and Sava have innumerable floating nightclubs known for their wild parties.

It is into this arena of fun and frolic that Karthi, Nagarjuna and Tamaannaah will walk to create the Telugu and Tamil versions of The Intouchables. Made in 2011 by Oliver Nakache and Eric Toledano, The Intouchables is a poignant drama of two men, one a quadriplegic and the other, his caregiver, a criminal who had been jailed for robbery. Inspired by a true event of a man left crippled after a paragliding mishap, The Intouchables became one of the biggest crowd pullers in France.

The French film, despite its tragic tale, was handled in a breezy style, in fact, almost in a comic way. It was no weepy tale of a man. It was not even a plot about the usual recklessness of caregivers. Rather, The Intouchables is bright, sunny and positive -- although one cannot miss the underlying tension of class and race conflict here as one are taken through fascinating male bonding. The quadriplegic is a white millionaire, while his caregiver is a black man from a poorer background. The written material could have easily lent itself to a sentimental sob story.

Will Paidipally follow this mode? Or, will he turn his movie into a depressively tragic narrative?

Whatever that be, one is happy to note that Indian cinema is finally getting gutsy. It is admitting that it is into remakes, and officially so. One remembers Mahesh Bhatt's 1991 Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahi -- which was a frame by frame copy of Frank Capra's 1934 It Happened One Night -- immortalised by Clarke Gable and Claudette Colbert. They were acting together for the first time. So was Aamir Khan and Pooja Bhatt -- who in a way also made the film unforgettable with the songs. After a long time, one felt that melody was returning to Hindi cinema.

But Bhatt never admitted -- at least openely -- that his work was remade from the Hollywood blockbuster.

So, we would soon see the Telugu/Tamil editions of The Intouchables, and why not! A good story, a good script needs to be borrowed and remade and shown to a far wider audience. A good plot seldom gets dated. No wonder, Shakespeare remains so popular centuries after he wrote those classic plays, and they continue to be staged even today in so many, many languages -- with directors like Vishal Bharadwaj going in for free adaptations of the Bard's dramas. And with remarkable success.

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