The list of Bollywood movies inspired by Hollywood runs into hundreds. Some of them are official remakes, while the others are shameless copies! And this has been happening since the 80s in the Hindi film industry.
Some remakes went on to become blockbusters, such as Munnabhai MBBS (Patch Adams), Phir Hera Pheri (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), and Satte Pe Satta (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), but many of them also bombed at the box office.
The bigger question is — why? What’s the need to copy a concept in the name of inspiration? I refuse to believe that we lack the talent.
Why Go Down the Remake Road?
Now there’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from a great work of art, be it a painting, a piece of music, or a feature film.
As Rajat Sengupta, a music enthusiast, tells us, “In college, we were often asked to create good music and ‘make something as beautiful as AR Rahman does’. I think there’s no harm in getting inspired by others. It’s not copying, per se. It’s a learning process, wherein you learn from those who’re better than you.”
I hear you, Rajat. However, there’s a difference between being inspired and ‘lifting’ an idea — a difference that many of our filmmakers fail to understand. Popular Salman Khan starrer Partner, for instance, is a scene-by-scene copy of Will Smith’s Hitch!
Copying is just lazy filmmaking. A teacher by profession, Pooja Pal, 30, tells us, “When I watched Barfi, I was disheartened to see that even the expressions were copied (from Western films). It’s definitely copying — and not inspiration.”
Explaining the logic behind Bollywood copying Hollywood, film critic Omar Qureshi said to IANS, “The biggest motivation for making a successful movie is that it brings money and appreciation. So filmmakers go for a tried and tested formula by taking inspiration from Hollywood.”
So you see, it’s not like there isn’t enough talent in the industry. But it’s a shortcut that filmmakers prefer to use — a ready script that’s likely to yield big bucks.
It Doesn’t Always Work
You could copy a concept or an entire storyline, but you still need talent to recreate or reproduce it. That’s precisely why we have a dud like Hum Tum (2004) copied from a great film, When Harry Met Sally (1989), or worse, Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai (2002), a remake of My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997).
Did you know that Sholay had lifted concepts from several Hollywood films? Or that Kamal Hassan hired French writers to do all his scripts?
In the quest to produce films faster and on smaller budgets, you can’t compromise on talent and quality, right? Plus, there’s the whole issue of legality and copyright infringement.
C’mon Bollywood, you’re better than that. And there’s proof! Award-winning Naseeruddin Shah starrer A Wednesday (2008) was remade by Hollywood as A Common Man (2013) starring Ben Kingsley. There have also been a couple of other Bollywood remakes like Delivery Man (Vicky Donor), Fear (Darr), and Leap Year (Jab We Met) to name a few.
At the end of the day, Bollywood is a booming film industry that has successfully made a niche for itself in India and abroad. It’s about time we ditched the remakes and showed off our originality, right?