x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hollywood rip-offs, Bollywood-style

We look at seven Hindi films that borrow heavily from US blockbusters.

Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in a scene from the film Action Replayy (2010), a copy of Back to the Future. Courtesy of PVR Pictures
Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in a scene from the film Action Replayy (2010), a copy of Back to the Future. Courtesy of PVR Pictures

Although the director Kunal Deshmukh said otherwise, it's clear that last month's Hindi hit Jannat 2, about a man caught in the illegal arms trade and starring Emraan Hashmi, was influenced more than a little by the 2005 film Lord of War, in which Nicolas Cage played a man caught in the illegal arms trade. Despite Deshmukh's protests, there were uncanny similarities between some of the scenes. But it's not the first time Bollywood has turned to Hollywood for a little inspiration, sometimes rather successfully, sometimes not so.

Sholay (1975)

Possibly the most famous Bollywood film of all and still the highest grossing in the history of Indian cinema, Sholay leaned heavily on the 1960 classic The Magnificent Seven, along with several other spaghetti westerns. Amitabh Bachchan's Jai and Dharmendra's Veeru, two petty criminals, are hired to end the tyranny of the infamous bandit Gabbar Singh, with a train robbery scene reminiscent of The Wild Bunch and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Obviously, we all know that The Magnificent Seven originally came from Seven Samurai, don't we?

Action Replayy (2010)

The extra "y" doesn't disguise the fact that this was a blatant rip-off of Back to the Future. Without a DeLorian, Doc Scott or Marty McFly, this Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan flop told the story of a man afraid of marriage who goes back in time to make his squabbling parents fall in love, but properly this time. There's a reason nobody has attempted a "reboot" of Back to the Future – it would be rubbish in comparison.

Chocolate (2005)

While it might sound anything but, this Hindi thriller is actually an unofficial desi remake of The Usual Suspects. Two Indians are hauled in by the London police and accused of carrying out a daring Christmas Eve robbery. But following a period of questioning, the name of a notorious terrorist – Murtaza Arzaj – is revealed, and a web of sinister plots comes to light. Sadly, unlike the original, it got panned.

Kyon Ki (2005)

You might think that with five Academy Awards and the widely held status of being one of the finest films ever made, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest would be untouchable, but that didn't stop the director Priyadarshan from trying to get Salman Khan to replicate Jack Nicholson's special sort of crazy, this time in an Indian mental asylum with an unbelievably cheeky love triangle thrown in for good measure.

Agneepath (1990)

Amitabh Bachchan's performance as the throaty, vengeance-seeking gangster Vijay might have been enough to earn this classic a rather successful remake last year – it starred Hrithik Roshan – but the original borrowed heavily from Scarface, with our hero's body language and swagger taken straight out of the Tony Montana drug- baron textbook, along with several like-for-like scenes – and one rather dazzling white linen suit.

Koi … Mil Gaya (2003)

If you thought there had been only one case of an alien having been accidentally left on Earth, being looked after by a child, showcasing some extraordinary powers of psychokinesis (with some humorous results) and heading back into space in a last-minute dash from the authorities, you'd be wrong. Despite its remarkably similarities to E.T., this avoided any stern letters from Spielberg's people and went on to great success.

Kucch To Hai (2003)

It might have earned a packet but the generally negative reviews of the 1997 horror I Know What You Did Last Summer might have suggested it would have been left well alone. But no. A group of students uncover the crimes committed by the murderous Professor Bakshi and, years later, find themselves on his hit list. It didn't rake in anywhere near as much as the original but the film, to its credit, didn't feature a single second of Jennifer Love Hewitt.