Sunday, 12 July 2020

Southern Spice, Northern Flavour

Updated: August 18, 2012 1:05 pm

Much is being made of remakes of some Tamil and Malayalam hits after the success of  Gajini, Wanted, Ready, Bodyguard, Singham, Rowdy Rathore and others because they have all reportedly done Rs 100-crore plus business. Now having exhausted the top of the line action heroes, director Gautham Menon has zeroed down on Shah Rukh Khan for the remake of his Tamil thriller Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu in which superstar Kamal Hassan essayed the role of a tough cop to perfection hunting for a killer. Incidentally, another Menon film, Vinnaithaandi Varvaayaa, has already been remade in Hindi as Ek Deewana Tha and slated for release early next year with Prateek Babbar and Amy Jackson in the lead. It also has a Telegu version, Ye Maaya Chesave. Shah Rukh is also in negotiation with AR Murugodass for a remake of Ramana, though his remake of Rajinikanth starrer, Billo Barber had turned turtle at the box office.

If one looks back in time, there is nothing new as both South and North cinema have been partners in the same crime though the methodology has been somewhat different. If action cinema in Hindi changed perceptibly after the meteoric rise of Amitabh Bachchan and song-and-dance element took a backseat, the emergence of Rajinikanth as the superman hero, his action loaded with gimmicks and gaudy song-and-dance numbers (later to be replaced by a virus that has come to be known as ‘item number’)—in direct contrast to what  the Padma Khannas, Aruna Iranis, and Bindus and the ilk had been doing.

One has time and again harped on the tendency of Indian commercial cinema to suffer from herd mentality, a conscious attempt to kill the golden goose itself. One hit, and every other director attempts a clone with little or no variation. While in the South big younger stars have flourished none has really been able to replace the originals whereas other action heroes have taken charge of the Bachchan vampire in Bollywood. And most Bachchan films had their origin in Western rather than South Indian hits, with the possible exception of Shakti (Thangapadakkam in the Tamil original). The same is true, to a certain extent, with Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam hits. A R Murugodass’s Gajini was more than inspired by Christopher Nolan directed Momento where Guy Pearce essayed the character of a guy who is struggling to solve jigsaw puzzles after the gruesome rape and murder of his wife. Glimpses of the past come to him only in short spurts. Wanted was a remake to Telugu super hit Pokiri.

But it has always been a two-way traffic, and there is nothing new in this. Earlier the problem had been producers lifted films frame by frame, and called them their own, whether Indian or foreign. The situation changed when Hindi cinema in particular became global, and many of these pirates were taken to court which resulted in officially acquiring rights to whether the film per se or a musical composition. One of the earliest remake was Telegu hit Pallatooi  Pilla (starring NT Rama Rao and A Nageshwar Rao) directed by SS Vasan’s Gemini Studios as Insaniyat (1955) starring Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Bina Rai. The trend was successfully reversed with Paigham (59) scripted by Ramanand Sagar, again produced and directed by SS Vassan with Dilip Kumar, Vyjanthimala, Raaj Kumar and Saroja Devi, which was later remade in Tamil as Irambu Thirai starring Shivaji Ganesan and both the leading ladies reprising their respective roles.

The popularity of northern stars, and the urge to make films to reach a pan-Indian audience, prompted more and more South directors started casting them in the Hindi remakes of their blockbusters. Almost everybody who was anybody (even the second and third list) started to camp in Madras in the 60s and 70s, while the trend continued till the 80s with Jeetendra followed closely by Mithun Chakravorty being the camp leaders. Interestingly, some of the most successful Bollywood heroines down the years  have been from the South. In the earlier phase, most of these were made under the auspices of AVM or Gemini. But when the reverse was tried with top South stars it never worked, with one honourable exception, Ek Duje Ke Liye. Both Kamal and Rajini repeatedly tried their luck—even Shivaji Ganesan and later Mohan Lal—without desired results.

Some of the other recent past and forthcoming remakes are superhit Tere Naam (Sethu in Tamil), Salman Khan for Vikram and Bhoomika Chawla for Abitha.  Judwaa ( Hello Brother in Telegu), again Salman for Nagarjuna in double role; Khushi (Kushi, Tamil) Fardeen  replacing Joseph Vijay and Kareena Kapoor  for Jyothika Saravanan, bombed in both languages; Shakti: The Power  (Anthahpuram, Telegu)- Karisma Kapoor for Soundarya and  Nana Patekar for Saikumar, a hit in the original settled only for critical appreciation in the remake; Mr And Mrs Khiladi (Aa Okkati Adakku , Telegu), Rajendra Prasad and Rambha replaced with Akshay Kumar and Juhi Chawla; Yuva  Mani Ratnam’s Tamil Aayutha Ezhuthu co-starring Surya, Madhavan and Siddharth and Ajay Devgn, Abhishek Bachchan, Vivek Oberoi, Rani Mukherjee and Kareena Kapoor in the remake

Priyadarshan’s Vellanakalude Nadu in Malayalam with Mohanlal and Shobhana remade as Khatta Meetha with Tisha and Akshay Kumar; Mani Ratnam’s  Tamil Alaipayuthey—Saathiya in Hindi, Rani Mukherjee and Vivek Oberoi replacing Madhavan and Shalini; Thevar Magan in Tamil (costarring Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, Nasser and Revathi became Virasat in Hindi with Anil Kapoor, Tabu, and Pooja Batra; Sunday—Charmy Kaur, Jagapati Babu and Shashank star in the Telugu Anukokunda Oka Roju. Ayesha Takia takes over Charmy’s role; Manichitrathazhu in Malayalam starring Shobana, Mohanlal and Suresh Gopi became Bhool Bhulaiya with Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Ameesha Patel and Shiney Ahuja; Mani Ratnam’s biggest box office disaster Raavan, Tamil Raavanan, While Vikram and Aishwarya starred in both the versions, Abhishek Bachchan was roped in for its Hindi remake.

It seems Bollywood is set on operation kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Writers have stopped using their brains to pen down a 100-crore original. Big stars, backed by corporate houses, have become producers. Just pick up a South Indian hit, and remake it with or without the same director. Since it has worked with others, it is now John Abraham’s turn to play the daring cop in Force, Kaakha Kaakha with Genelia playing his love interest; Salman Khan will co-star with Sonakshi Sinha in Telegu movie with the same name, also to be directed by Surender Reddy; Telegu Maryada Ramanna starring Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha called Son of Sardar is being directed by Ashwin Dhir; Anthony D’Souza who has Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif in the Hindi remake of the Tamil, to be called Satyagraha; director N Linguswamy will remake his Tamil Vettai with Shahid Kapoor; director Abhishek Kapoor is attempting to recreate the Telegu blockbuster historical Magadheera with relative newcomer Ranveer Singh;. AR Murugodoss will co-produce and direct his 7AM Arivu  with Aamir Khan, probably under the star’s banner.

 By Suresh Kohli

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