Bollywood's riding the remake wagon

Oct 13, 2008 Priyanka Khanna

New Delhi, Oct 13 (IANS) It seems the successive box-office failures of remakes of Bollywood classics has not dampened spirits as the big daddies of tinsel town including Satish Kaushik and David Dhawan are ready with yet another 'tribute' to the bygone era.

The fate of Ram Gopal Varma's remake of "Sholay" notwithstanding, "Karz" is ready to go on the marquees again with an all new cast and extra 'z's in the title. The hit film by Subhash Ghai based on reincarnation, greed and revenge has been remade by Satish Kaushik with music composer-cum-singer-cum-actor Himesh Reshammiya essaying the lead role.

"Karzzz" will join the ever increasing list of Bollywood classics which have been dug out from the realms of history and resold. These include films like "Don", "Sholay", "Umrao Jaan" and "Devdas". "Devdas" has been remade twice and now writer Anurag Kashyap has teamed up with director Sudhir Mishra to do yet another remake of it.

In fact, it was the success of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's version of "Devdas" that can be credited for sparking off the remaking of classics. Released in 2002, the film starred Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai.

Another successful remake came from Pradeep Sarkar - he created the same magic with Sanjay Dutt, Saif Ali Khan and newcomer Vidya Balan in "Parineeta" in 2005. This was the third Hindi remake of the classic after Bimal Roy's 1953 movie starring Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari and Arun Ganguly's Jitendra and Sulakshna Pandit starrer, which was released in 1976.

Then when Farhan Akhtar came up with the remake of the classic "Don" with Shah Rukh Khan stepping into the larger shoes of Amitabh Bachchan, veteran director J.P. Dutta remade "Umrao Jaan" with Aishwarya essaying the role immortalised by Rekha.

While Farhan's "Don" did reasonably well at the turnstiles, "Umrao Jaan" was a total washout. Other debacles like "Victoria No. 203" and the poor returns fetched by "Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag" ("Sholay" of yore) came as a rude shock for nearly a dozen other filmmakers who were hoping to serve old wine in new bottle.

"Filmmakers should realise that making a remake is not as easy as it is made out to be. No denying that it helps to bring the crowds in, but after that if the content is not strong then the film will not work," says a trade analyst.

For that reason, perhaps, filmmakers attempting remakes need to be that much more careful. The fact that these movies were big hits of their time brings with it an assurance that the film will evoke curiosity among audiences.

"It is a double edged sword. More initial publicity also means higher expectations," said Dev Anand, who had waited 30 years before making a sequel to his 1967 hit film "Jewel Thief". "The way I see it, a classic is something that has been honoured and appreciated. Why should anyone touch it?" he reportedly said in an interview.

The other challenge while attempting a remake of a classic is to be able to mould the subject according to the tastes and sensibilities of the new generation. The success of a remake depends on the sensibility of the director to make a movie which appeals to the new generation and at the same time keeps the spirit of the classic alive.

Given the many disadvantages, it is no surprising that the trend of remakes comes in fits and starts. Immediately after Ram Gopal Verma had announced that he would remake "Sholay", over half-a-dozen similar announcements had come from various production houses. Last heard, none of the projects had so far taken off.

The bravehearts, who still decide to remake a classic, are often trying to reinterpret a storyline and the plot in a different context and in a different setting.

"Besides, if the content is strong and if it has clicked with the audience, there is a chance to reconnect with the audience. Moreover, it is possible that films which did not run then may work in today's context," Hiren Gada, director, Shemaroo Entertainment, was quoted as saying in an interview.

For this reason, perhaps, Pritish Nandy has acquired the rights to remake three of Shakti Samantha's films in an animated format - "Howrah Bridge", "Amar Prem" and "Barsaat Ki Ek Raat". He is also contemplating animating "Sholay" and his own film "Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena" besides remaking "Sahib, Biwi Aur Ghulam" and "Devdas".

Most filmmakers believe that doing a remake is akin to paying tribute to the legends. Remaking is also considered as a means of bringing classic works to the notice of the younger generation and making it popular among them.

This is the reason that prompted Sanjay Dutt to suggest the idea of remaking "Padosan", a comedy from the late 60s. Sanjay's father played the lead in the film that was a huge success. Kishore Kumar and Saira Banu too played pivotal roles in the movie.

Likewise, "Karzzz" is being promoted as Himesh's tribute to the music composers of the original -- Laxmikant-Pyarelal. The film that will release Friday has all the three hit songs - 'Dard-e-Dil', 'Om Shanti Om' and the theme song 'Ek haseena thi'.

If "Karzzz" clicks at the box office, it will smoothen the way for David Dhawan's adaptation of "Amar, Akbar, Anthony" and remakes of Feroz Khan's "Qurbani" and Amitabh's "Satte Pe Satta".

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