Bollywood remakes of Hollywood hits
Bollywood directors often remake Indian versions of Hollywood classics. While critics condemn the blatant copying, fans are quite happy to see a fresh version of the English-language movies.
It is common practice: Major film markets remake material that has been successful elsewhere for their regional audiences. Germany remakes stories from France, the USA from all over the world. In return, the studios buy the rights. Many Bollywood directors, however, tend to plagiarize. In the Indian remake of the Oscar-winning drama "Forrest Gump" with Tom Hanks (image), everything is above board.
'Laal Singh Chaddha'
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.
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 did not replicate the original's success.
A divorced man disguises 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 heartwarming story that director Chris Columbus released in 1993 starring the late American actor and comedian Robin Williams as the crossdressing Mrs Doubtfire.
In 1997, Bollywood produced a remake of "Mrs. Doubtfire" called "Chachi 420," starring and directed by 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 great success at the Indian box office.
A group of criminals fail in a bank robbery — it's a common enough storyline that filmmakers can't be accused of copying. The 2002 Indian production "Kaante" ("thorns" in English) very blatantly used the US film "Reservoir Dogs" by Quentin Tarantino as a template, complete with an ensemble cast headed by world-renowned Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan (pictured center, in a lighter suit).
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 "Kaante," saying he liked how the story developed the characters further and the fact that Indians were shown robbing an American bank.
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 (pictured) remains the original Man of Steel.
"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 the film adaptation of JK Rowling's works.
Instead it replicated the US comedy "Home Alone." In the 1990 film, Macaulay Culkin, then a child star, played Kevin, who is forgotten at home when his family leaves for their Christmas vacation. Home alone, he has to deal with two dimwitted burglars. At least Bollywood waited 18 years to make a copy of the film.
Marlon Brando exceled 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 the remake, but only more than three decades later.
None other than the Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan played the role of the godfather in the 2005 Hindi remake of the Hollywood classic. Accompanying him were several successful Indian actors, including his son Abhishek Bachchan and Katrina Kaif.