#BigStory: Should B'wood remake old classics?


Film remakes sound great on paper for what can be more promising than taking an already successful film, updating it, and presenting it anew. But it is more of a gamble than it appears to be. If the numbers are any indication, 90 per cent of remakes of classic or blockbuster Bollywood films fail to perform at the box office and the negative reviews that the remakes of ‘Himmatwala’, ‘Chashme Baddoor’, ‘Zanjeer’ and ‘Shaukeen’, ‘Sholay’ and ‘Karzzz’ fetched is proof. The recent remake of Coolie no 1 starring Varun Dhawan and Sara Ali Khan failed to meet audience expectations. Not just Coolie, but other Bollywood remakes have also missed the mark in entertaining the audience. This leaves us wondering, should Bollywood touch old blockbusters and remake them? For the #BigStory of the week, we spoke to the industry to gauge their thoughts. Here’s what they had to say:
Touch ’em not
‘Success rate of repeating success with old Bollywood films is just 10 per cent’
Film distributor Ramesh Sippy is completely averse to the idea of remaking an old film to earn a few bucks. “Just because a film worked some decades ago, doesn’t mean it will work just as well now, case in point being Sajid Khan‘s remake of the Jeetendra-Sridevi’s ‘Himmatwala’, which turned out to be a flop,” he points out. But ‘Judwaa’ remade by David Dhawan was a box-office success. “The success rate of repeating success with old Bollywood films is just 10 per cent,” the distributor explains.

‘Redoing a classic is lazy’

‘Looop Lapeta’ producer Tanuj Garg, who is currently working on the remake of the German cult classic ‘Run Lola Run’, isn’t too keen on remakes either. “I’d rather do an adaptation or a re-imagination than a scene-by-scene remake because there’s no joy or challenge in that. ‘Looop Lapeta’ has taken around two years and numerous drafts to come up with a script that we’re excited about,” relays the producer, adding, “As an organisation, I don’t think we’d touch an old Bollywood hit, because of comparisons and expectations. Also, redoing a classic is lazy in my opinion.”

‘What is happening in the name of remakes is blasphemy’

Producer of the Salman Khan-starrer ‘Veer’, Vijay Galani is vehemently against remaking old hits. “What is happening in the name of remakes is blasphemy,” he lashes out.

‘I wouldn’t like to go back’

Ram Gopal Varma has clearly learnt his lesson after his attempt to remake ‘Sholay’. “I am not the same person as before. A filmmaker’s work reflects what interests him at that point; I wouldn’t like to go back,” he asserts.

‘Didn’t feel comfortable doing its second part just to milk the original’

Dharmesh Darshan has not succumbed to producer Ratan Jain’s tempting offers to remake the Akshay Kumar-Shilpa Shetty-Suniel Shetty starrer ‘Dhadkan’. “I don’t think well-made films like ‘Dhadkan’ should be tampered with or extended. I didn’t feel comfortable doing its second part just to milk the original title,” he says with earnestness.

‘If I set out to remake Mughal-E-Azam today, who would I cast’

RK Films’ head honcho Randhir Kapoor, too, is against remakes and has been guarding his treasure trove of classics. “Several filmmakers have asked me for the remake rights of films from RK banner, but I have no intention of selling them, not now, not in future,” he declares, reminding that even though ‘Mother India’ was also a remake of ‘Aurat’ but it’s an exception because Nargis was a superstar then and the film had terrific music. “But if I set out to remake Mughal-E-Azam today, who would I cast in it? Cult films should not be touched,” he opines.

‘How can you have people standing in for Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan’

When asked what she thought of the ‘Shakti’ remake being planned by late Jhamu Sugandh’s family, Saira Banu is aghast. “Such classics shouldn’t be touched. How can you have people standing in for Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan?” asks an incredulous Saira, going on to add that when Kamal Amrohi wanted to remake her mother’s film ‘Pukar’ with Dilip saab and her, the thespian didn’t let it happen, pointing out that senior actors have set a benchmark and their works are better left alone.

Mission Impossible

‘How do I recreate the intrigue and longing’

‘Kahaani’ filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh, who was at the helm of Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu-starrer ‘Badla’ which was a remake of the Spanish film, ‘The Invisible Guest’, and is producing the remake of the South Korean film ‘Blind’ with Sonam Kapoor is absolutely certain that he won’t ever touch Bollywood classics. “How do I recreate the intrigue and longing that the lead pair had for each other back then, in the era of mobile phones? How do I recreate the same society and issues that existed 30 years ago? There was a thehrav in those films, but today everything is instant. If you put a mobile phone in those films, they will become something else. I would like to remake something that stands relevant in today’s times and to which I can contribute. I would love to remake ‘Mere Apne’ (Meena Kumari, Vinod Khanna) but can I recreate that society and that angst?” he retorts when asked why.

‘Why can’t remakes of old Hindi films be made?’

When reached out, Rakesh Roshan countered, “Why can’t remakes of old Hindi films be made?” but went on to add that he will not make any because he wants to move further, not backwards.” Rakesh’s trusted writer Robin Bhatt, who has written ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ and ‘Krrish’, has a very valid point. “Times have changed. Thought process is not the same. Relationships between parents-children, husband-wife has a new face. Look at work culture too; digitisation has made working from home a way of life and it was happening even before COVID set in,” he points out. But Robin did write ‘Son of Sardaar’, which was a remake of the Telugu comedy ‘Maryada Ramanna’. “There is a certain novelty if the remake is not from its own stable. Besides, we made the necessary changes. We had Ajay Devgn so we brought in action and did not confine it to being just a comedy.”

‘It is that little magic, soul, heart, something is there in original which works’

Juhi Chawla sums it up succinctly when she says that there is something about an original that works. “It is that little magic, soul, heart, something is there in an original which works. But when I did remakes of the South films, it would just not turn out the way we had visualised it,” she admits.

Handle with care

‘Remakes are a courageous creative expression’

However Pooja Bedi who made a splash in ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar’, which was reportedly inspired by Breaking Away (1979), is not against the idea. “I think ‘Jo Jeeta…’ was inspired by Archie comics,” she says, adding, “Remakes are a courageous creative expression wherein the original story is presented with certain changes for today’s audience. But yes, this task, when undertaken, comes with the requirement of responsibility.”

‘Remakes fail only because they are made so badly’

Trade analyst Komal Nahta seconds her and says that he would like to see more old Hindi films remade. “There’s nothing wrong in Bollywood attempting remakes of Hindi films. They fail only because they are made so badly. Let’s at least have some which are as good as the original.”

ETimes has it exclusively that the remake of ‘Shahenshah’ which was in the pipeline is not happening anytime soon and Amitabh Bachchan is yet to give his nod to the remake of ‘Shakti’. Meanwhile, Ramesh Taurani tells us, “I have put the idea of remaking ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ on the backburner for now.”

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