It is common practice: Major film markets remake material that has been successful elsewhere for their regional audiences. Germany remakes stories from France, and the USA from all over the world. In return, studios buy rights to the originals to come up with their own spin on the epics. Many Bollywood directors, however, tend to plagiarize. And while critics condemn the blatant copying, fans are usually happy to see a fresh, localized version of their favourite English-language movies.
So, here’s presenting seven Bollywood remakes of classic Hollywood films you must watch, or completely avoid.
1. Forrest Gump – Laal Singh Chaddha
In the Indian remake of the Oscar-winning drama Forrest Gump with Tom Hanks (image), everything is above board. The Bollywood remake of Forrest Gump titled Laal Singh Chaddha, which has just been released in Indian cinemas, is a production of Viacom 18 Studios, which in turn belongs to the US company Paramount Pictures. That’s exactly where the film rights to Forrest Gump lie, which is why Bollywood director and lead actor Aamir Khan was spared any sleepless nights over copyright infringement.
2. Dirty Dancing – Holiday
For decades, India’s film industry has been freely using material from the US market without legal consequences. Dirty Dancing was an absolute surprise success in the US in 1987: low budget, largely unknown actors, combined with music and countless dance scenes. Hindi filmmaker Pooja Bhatt revived it in 2006, with the name Holiday. The film, albeit, could not replicate the original’s success.
3. Mrs Doubtfire – Chachi 420
Mrs Doubtfire sees a divorced man disguising himself as a woman so that his ex-wife will hire him as a nanny and housekeeper, thus enabling him to spend time with his children. It is a heart-warming story that director Chris Columbus released in 1993 starring the late American actor and comedian Robin Williams. In 1997, Bollywood produced a remake of the film called Chachi 420, directed by and starring Kamal Haasan. The film was, strictly speaking, a remake of a remake, since the Bollywood version was based on Avvai Shanmugi from Kollywood, or the Chennai Tamil-language film industry. Chachi 420 was a success at the Indian box office.
4. Reservoir Dogs – Kaante
Reservoir Dogs revolved around a group of criminals failing at a bank robbery — a common enough storyline that filmmakers can’t be accused of copying. Thus, in 2002 Indian production Kaante very blatantly used the Quentin Tarantino film as a template, complete with an ensemble cast headed by world-renowned Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan. Tarantino’s 1992 film featured Hollywood heavyweights Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth. While unlicensed copies are a nuisance for many filmmakers, Tarantino was very impressed with the Indian remake. He liked how the film “developed the characters further” and showed Indians robbing an American bank.
5. Superman – Superman
Sometimes Bollywood remakes are so obviously stolen that it’s hilarious. In 1987, director B. Gupta didn’t have sufficient liquidity for a Superman remake, so he copied entire excerpts from the original and inserted them into his film. At least, the leading role was cast with Indian film star Dharmendra. American actor Christopher Reeve remains the original Man of Steel.
6. Home Alone – Hari Puttar
Hari Puttar might sound similar to the boy wizard Harry Potter and the mansion seen in the background of this picture resembles the Hogwarts wizarding school. That’s what the US film studio Warner Bros saw in it and filed a lawsuit against Bollywood. But it lost in court, because Hari Puttar is not a remake of JK Rowling’s works. Instead, it replicates the US comedy Home Alone. At least with this film, Bollywood waited 18 years to make a copy.
7. The Godfather – Sarkar
Marlon Brando excelled in his iconic role as the godfather in Francis Ford Coppola’s film of the same name. Several sequels followed, as well as remakes. Bollywood went for a remake too, but only more than three decades later. Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan played the iconic godfather in the 2005 Hindi re-creation of the Hollywood classic. Accompanying him were several successful actors, including Katrina Kaif and his son Abhishek Bachchan.
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