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The ‘Seoul’ connect! Not Hollywood, Bollywood is currently high on South Korean cinema

As Korean movies inspire Salman Khan’s next and director duo Raj-DK’s upcoming film, we take a look at what’s making Hindi film-makers turn towards Korean cinema in a big way.

bollywood Updated: Oct 31, 2017 18:07 IST
Prashant Singh
Prashant Singh
Salman Khan,Bharat,Korean films
Salman Khan-starrer Bharat – to be directed by Ali Abbas Zafar –is an official adaptation of the 2014 Korean hit, Ode To My Father.(HT Photo)

For years, Bollywood was supposedly fascinated by its western counterpart, Hollywood. But now, the B-Town film-makers seem to have turned their gaze towards South Korean cinema for fresh inspiration.

Affordable & adaptable

To start with, Salman Khan-starrer Bharat – to be directed by Ali Abbas Zafar –is an official adaptation of 2014 Korean hit, Ode To My Father. For the same film, Salman has again booked the Eid weekend of 2019. In the latest instance, HT has learnt that director duo Raj Nidimoru & Krishna DK’s next will be the official Hindi remake of the Korean blockbuster, A Hard Day. Plus, director Umesh Shukla, of OMG – Oh My God fame, has been roped in to direct the Hindi remake of the 2013 Korean blockbuster, Miracle in Cell No. 7.

Salman Khan has booked the Eid weekend of 2019 for the Hindi adaptation of the Korean hit, Ode to My Father.

“There is a reason why Korean films’ stories resonate with Indian audiences in big way – they are high on emotional quotient and plus, there are conflicts [in them]. That’s what we – as Indian film-makers – also look for. In a nutshell, Korean films are way more accessible, affordable and adaptable [as compared to Hollywood film],” says film-maker Sanjay Gupta.

Similar cultures

Well, Gupta should have a clear idea as his 2015 film, Jazbaa – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s comeback vehicle – was the official adaptation of the 2007 South Korean film, Seven Days. Last year’s Amitabh Bachchan-Nawazuddin Siddiqui starrer Te3n was also a remake of the 2013 South Korean film, Montage.

Director duo Raj & DK will helm the Hindi version of the Korean hit, A Hard Day.

“I see many similarities between the cultures of India and Korea, and I think that is why many Korean films resonate so well with Indian film-makers. But not all Korean stories are “universal enough” to be remade in India, so I guess the ratio is 1 out of 10,” explains Thomas Kim, CEO of Kross Pictures, that has been involved with Korean adaptations such as Te3n, Miracle in Cell No. 7 and now, A Hard Day.

Experts, however, stick to the entertainment quotient. “Regardless of whether we pick up stories from Korea or Hollywood, the biggest question for every film-maker is: ‘can it be adapted well and as per Indian people’s sensibilities?’ That’s where the biggest trick lies,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

Director Umesh Shukla is set to take up the Hindi adaptation of the Korean hit, Miracle in Cell No. 7.

The big line-up

In the recent past, Bollywood seems to have had a flourishing equation with Korean films. Last year’s John Abraham-starrer Rocky Handsome was an official remake of the action classic from Korea, The Man From Nowhere. Also, the Randeep Hooda-starrer Do Lafzon Ki Kahani (2016) was based on the 2011 Korean film, Always.

“The perception that Korean films are only high on action isn’t true at all. They are adept at highly-stylised emotional stories too. Generally, emotions in Hollywood are on a superficial level but in Korean films, it’s very strong. And since Bollywood films are known for their heavy emotions, Korean films become a perfect fit,” says film-maker Sanjay Gupta.

John Abraham-starrer Rocky Handsome was based on the Korean hit, The Man from Nowhere.

It’s interesting to note that besides the official Hindi avatars, a number of other Korean films have also inspired many film-makers. So, the Sidharth Malhotra-Shraddha Kapoor starrer Ek Villain reportedly took its idea from I Saw the Devil (2010), while A Bittersweet Life (2005) apparently inspired the Emraan Hashmi’s 2007 film, Awarapan.

Easier to get

“Like always, Indian audiences are only looking for quality entertainment. For years, we have been fascinated with Hollywood films, so it’s good if we are looking elsewhere for some new inspirations. But still, if they aren’t adapted or made well, there’s no question of them doing well,” says trade expert Taran Adarsh. Other Hindi films that have been reportedly ‘inspired’ by Korean films are Murder 2 (believed to be a Hindi avatar of The Chaser; 2008) and Ugly Aur Pagli, which is apparently based around My Sassy Girl (2001).

The Sidharth Malhotra-Shraddha Kapoor starrer Ek Villain reportedly took its idea from I Saw the Devil.

Gupta feels it’s “a bit easier to take up Korean films” as compared to Hollywood. “Technically speaking, since almost all the Hollywood studios have their presence in India, they hardly sell off their films’ remake rights nowadays, but Korean films are easier to get,” says the Kaabil director.

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First Published: Oct 31, 2017 18:06 IST