Inspired but legit

Bollywood’s tryst with Hollywood film remakes isn’t new but this time it’s official

When the first look of Parineeti Chopra starrer The Girl on the Train was released recently, film fans were thrilled to see the unfolding of a promising murder mystery with strong female leads. Also, comparisons with its Hollywood counterpart of the same name which released in 2016, starring Emily Blunt, is inevitable.

The film, which will premiere on Netflix on February 26, has been the talk of the town for quite some time now. Based on the best-selling novel by Paula Hawkins, its Hollywood version was not that big a hit. But the book was widely read and appreciated.

This Netflix movie is an official remake of the original one. Well, this isn’t the first Bollywood film to traverse the path of Hollywood remakes.

It was Dharma Production’s We are Family (2010), starring Kareena Kapoor Khan, Arjun Rampal and Kajol, which was the first time a Hindi film collaborated with international studios to remake Julia Robert-starrer Step Mom (1998). Though the film could not match up to the original, it definitely opened the floodgates for remakes.

Then one after the other — films like Players (2011) (remake of The Italian Job), Bang Bang (2014) remake of Knight and Day) and Dil Bechara (2020)(remake of The Fault in Our Stars) also followed suit. Apart from Bang Bang, none of the films could match up to its counterpart.

And now, with The Girl on the Train in the pipeline – audiences are already pinning their hopes whether this film will break the long-term trend of remakes being a disappointing ‘carbon copy’ of the original film.

Before this trend of official remake began, Bollywood films oftentimes got “inspired” by Hollywood films – and what resulted was a sort of plagiarised version of the original film. None of these had any rights or official go-ahead, but those were also the times when such things like copying were commonplace. Films like Chachi 420 (inspired from Mrs Doubtfire) Sarkar (The Godfather), Baazigar (A Kiss before dying) Hum Tum  (When Harry met Sally ) are the ones to take down this road, to name a few.

Dil Bechara was the remake of the popular Hollywood film The Fault in our Stars

Some of them did a good job, and some faltered. A few of the films even had their own interpretation and had the original storyline set against Indian backdrop. Thus, this remake trend is definitely not new – and had its roots far back. The only difference being the “official” stamp on it – which makes one thing clear: Bollywood has grown to be a dignified industry and there’s no need to plagiarise when such a plethora of content is available.

And as 2021 sets in with this much-awaited thriller, there’s much more Bollywood has to offer. Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro starrer The Intern (2015) was supposed to be remade with Deepika Padukone and Rishi Kapoor as protagonists. But after the latter’s passing away, the film’s production has started looking for a worthy replacement. Being a widely known and loved film, much of its anticipation lies in this casting as well.

Apart from this,  Sylvester Stallone starrer Rambo (2008) will supposedly be remade with Tiger Shroff in the lead; Mark Ruffalo and Kiera Knigthly starrer Begin Again (2013) will be remade by Veere Di Wedding fame director Shashanka Ghosh; Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich starrer Red will be made by filmmaker Abhinay Deo and produced by Anil Kapoor.

With so many remakes, one can question why the audience should watch one when the original is available already? Well, the probable answer could be that the majority of the Indian audience are not exposed to Hollywood content. Even those who watch English films are curious about the treatment given closer home to a film in our own language against an Indian backdrop. Moreover, such remakes do add their own masala and twists. It’s like having an ‘American’ chopsuey with an Indian spice added to make it spicier or tastier!

(Cover image: Parineeti Chopra in The Girl on the Train)

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