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by Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri April 12 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 7 mins, 18 secs

As Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan and Love Sex Aur Dhokha 2 are set to release, with both films evoking titles of films made earlier, Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, in the first of a series of articles on remakes and sequels, looks at the five worst remakes or sequels in Hindi films…

Why would anyone want to hark back to a film like Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan (BMCM), more so when, from the looks of the trailer, the film appears neither a sequel nor a remake? Even in 1998, the film was a major disappointment – and nowhere the ‘retro classic’ it is being made out to be in recent celebrations by juvenile journalists. Though the internet entries tout it to be the biggest hit of 1998, my memories of the film are of a David Dhawan film that barely managed to make us laugh, despite the redoubtable comic talents of its two leading stars. After almost a decade of some really, at times outrageously, funny films, that set new standards for lowbrow comedy before Rohit Shetty’s ‘Golmaal’ series lowered the bar further, it was clear that David Dhawan was running out of gags, with barely a few with BMCM in landing (take out Satish Kaushik and Paresh Rawal, the film is hardly watchable). More painful for the Amitabh Bachchan fan in me was the sight of the superstar trying so hard to keep pace and match steps with Govinda and coming off a tired and weary second-best.

Equally baffling is Dibakar Banerjee coming up with a Love Sex Aur Dhokha 2 (LSD-2). One can imagine producers Jackky and Vashu Bhagnani, director Ali Abbas Zafar, and actors of the calibre of Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff trying to ride on the audience recall of a film past, but surely Dibakar Banerjee is in a different league? Does he really have to pander to the memories of what was a breakthrough film in terms of both content and technique and which announced the arrival of a couple of the finest talents in contemporary Hindi cinema?

One of my many ‘film remake/sequel’ nightmares has been waking up to a remake of Roman Holiday. The closing sequences of this charming love story constitute some of the most heart-breaking moments I have come across in a romcom. You almost will the two to make a dash for it, like they had done on the Lambreta earlier in the film. But then Roman Holiday would not remain the film it is. Now, imagine the children of Joe Bradley and Princess Ann meeting each other and discovering their parents’ grand passion. Or, the princess, now a titular queen of the unnamed nation, and Joe, possibly editorial head of a news conglomerate coming across each other at, say, an international conference on global warming, and rekindling the association from fifty years ago.

Hindi films and OTT series have almost made a cottage industry of remakes and sequels, and for the most part they are not a patch on the original. Consider the remakes, Night Manager (adapted from the classic series of the same name) or The Trial (adapted from The Good Wife) in the OTT space, for example, neither of which measured up to the pyrotechnics of the originals, ending up pale copies.

In the first of the series, here’s a look at five atrocious remakes from Hindi and Bengali films…

Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag (2007)/Sholay (1975)

What could have prompted a filmmaker like Ram Gopal Verma to even contemplate a remake of a film like Sholay, itself a potpourri of countless westerns? Leave alone dish out the concoction he does here? Of course, by the time he came to this film, RGV was no longer the director who made Satya and Company, Rangeela and Kaun?... So indifferent and abysmal had his films become by now that one had no expectations whatsoever from him. That Aag managed to disappoint despite this is testimony to how bad it is. I have always had a soft corner for the atrociously bad film, say, for example, a Gunda or a Hitler, but this one fails even at the level of being a guilty pleasure, of a film so bad that it is good. The biggest mystery remains: no, not what could have prompted Amitabh Bachchan to agree to be part of this mess – he has had his fair share of those – but reprising Amjad Khan’s iconic Gabbar Singh? That is the most unforgivable part of this mother of all bad remakes.

Karzzzz (2008)/Karz (1980)

Well, full marks to this one for the innovative spelling of the title to differentiate it from the original. Every time I sit down to write about the film, I have to count the number of ‘z’-s to ensure I get it right. I have often wondered whether that profusion of z-s is indicative of what the film is meant to do: put the audience to sleep … zzzz… The original Karz wasn’t a great film either, apart from being a remake itself of The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, a poor film to begin with. What catapulted Subhash Ghai’s film to its status of a bona fide ‘retro classic’ is the soundtrack with evergreen chartbusters, and Rishi Kapoor’s energetic performance together with a couple of class acts by Simi Garewal and Prem Nath. Satish Kaushik’s directorial dud, highlighting by Himesh Reshamiya’s soporific presence, gives reincarnation a bad name.

Zanjeer (2013)/Zanjeer (1975)

Another iconic Hindi film classic starring Amitabh Bachchan that resulted in an unnecessary remake. The original in 1973 captured the zeitgeist of the times and succeeded brilliantly in conveying the burgeoning angst of a generation. Devoid of all that, the remake came across as bland as last week’s leftovers lying cold in the refrigerator. The political and social landscape of the original has changed, not to mention that the upright-angry-cop-against-the-system trope has been done to death (even Manoj Bajpayee’s searing performance in Shool couldn’t overcome the moth-eaten nature of the protagonist, and that was way back in 1999). In 2013, Zanjeer resembled a rickety relic from the past. Apart from the sheer shock of Ram Charan as ‘Vijay’, a name that became a byword for the angry young man cinema of the 1970s, the audience is subjected to the trauma of watching Sanjay Dutt as Sher Khan and Mahie Gill as Mona darling. Some memories should be left sacrosanct and Zanjeer, circa 2013, violates quite a few.

Isi Ka Naam Zindagi (1992)/Banchharamer Bagan (1980)

This Tapan Sinha film, memorably described as ‘a Tom and Jerry fable where a mousy old man passionately attached to his orchard foils the machinations of the Tomcat, a rapacious landlord’ (Vithal C. Nadkarni, The Economic Times, 14 October 2013) remains one of Bengali cinema’s greatest comedies and arguably the finest of satires ever in Indian cinema. Based on Manoj Mitra’s stage play, the film also starred the playwright in the eponymous role, in what is a great onscreen performance. The 1992 remake, Isi Ka Naam Zindagi, was touted more as an Aamir Khan film (in the original, the character, essayed by Bhishma Guhathakurta, is largely peripheral), and is one of a series of the star’s indifferent outings of the era before he reinvented himself as the thinking man’s actor. It is Pran who has the pivotal role in what should go down as a low point of his career, so thoroughly inept his performance is. The original worked primarily because of the biting satire that informs its writing and Manoj Mitra’s brilliance. Devoid of both, no wonder the remake has barely any recall.

Gang of Ghosts (2014)/Bhooter Bhabishyat (2012)

Another superlative Bengali satire, among the best of contemporary Bengali films, gets the Bollywood treatment. Anik Dutta’s feature debut is a terrific commentary on the city of Kolkata, on greed and avarice, on changing times and mores (mall-multiplexes taking over the Kolkata skyline) that scores thanks to its racy writing (I am hard-pressed to recall another contemporary Hindi or Bengali film that had so much fun with wordplay) and performances. Satish Kaushik has the ignominy of appearing on this list for the second time with Gang of Ghosts, a film that begs the question: why? There’s neither the socio-political understanding of the original, nor a feel for satire or even broad comedy. The film actually does a great disservice to its original more so because non-Bengali audiences will have no sense of how good the original is. This is a film that should have actually called for a ban on remakes.

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