x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Desi girl: Enough with the remakes, show some creativity

Why can’t Bollywood leave the past where it belongs and focus on new stories and musical compositions?

One of my favourite things about having grown up in the 1980s and 1990s is the ridiculous amount of kitsch I got to lay claim to. From the wearable (Ray-Ban Wayfarers and high-top Reeboks) to the listenable (Madonna and Boy George), I – like so many others my age – carried into adulthood these elements of pop culture that we couldn’t quite fathom anymore but loved nonetheless.

I can’t quite put my finger on how and when it started but a little while ago, Hollywood suddenly developed a keen interest in revisiting its kitschy heydays. From Tron to Total Recall, they started messing with things from our past that should have been left well alone.

It wasn’t just Hollywood going crazy. Bollywood jumped on the bandwagon, too. Music-wise, it started fairly innocently with Shaitan in 2011. Directed by Bejoy Nambiar and produced by Anurag Kashyap, the thriller featured two scintillating remakes of the songs Hawa Hawaii (originally sung by Kavitha Krishnamoorthy in 1987 for the film Mr India, starring Anil Kapoor and Sridevi) and Khoya Khoya Chaand (originally sung by Mohammed Rafi in 1960 for Kala Bazaar, starring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman). Both new versions were sung by Suman Sridhar.

From then on, everything went downhill.

Last month, a thoroughly dreadful version of Na Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai was featured in the equally abysmal I, Me Aur Main, the debut directorial venture of Kapil Sharma and starring John Abraham, Prachi Desai and Chitrangada Singh. Neeraj Shridhar and Anushka Manchanda struggled to match the vocal prowess of Amit Kumar and Kavita Krishnamurthy who had sung the original song in 1989 for Chaalbaaz, starring Sunny Deol and Sridevi.

It’s Sridevi who seems to be bearing the brunt of bad remakes. Following Hawaii Hawaii and Na Jaane, one more of her songs was remade this year: Nainon Mein Sapna. Featured in the 1983 film Himmatwala, the original hit song had her prancing with Jeetendra in bizarre outfits on a kitsch set that embodied all at once both the best and the worst of Bollywood in the 1980s.

But the filmmaker Sajid Khan fiddled with it this year to disastrous consequence. His judgement failed him monumentally when he included the remade song in an actual remake of the whole movie itself. Also titled Himmatwala, it bombed so badly that I can’t even think of an appropriate way to joke about it. The remake starred Ajay Devgn (who seems to be having a bit of a bad run lately) and Tamannaah (an actress popular in the South Indian film industry).

Other disastrous Bollywood remakes include the hilariously titled Himesh Reshamiya-starrer Karzzz (2008), a remake of Karz (1980) and directed by Satish Kaushik, and Ram Gopal Varma’s Aag (2007) which, despite starting out as a remake of one of Bollywood’s best films, Sholay (1975), ended up becoming one of Bollywood’s worst.

Why can’t Bollywood leave the past where it belongs and focus on new stories and musical compositions? Heaven knows there are enough struggling writers and musicians waiting for a break.

I am more than glad to take note of all of this with cold detachment (and not-so-mild amusement) just as long as they stay away from my childhood favourites. The day they announce a remake of Mr India is the day I will send Bollywood a restraining order.

The writer is an honest-to-goodness desi living in Dubai

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