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A still from Nerkonda Paarvai. After remaking Bollywood film Pink as Nerkonda Paarvai in Tamil, filmmaker Boney Kapoor is now looking to make a Telugu version.
A still from Nerkonda Paarvai. After remaking Bollywood film Pink as Nerkonda Paarvai in Tamil, filmmaker Boney Kapoor is now looking to make a Telugu version.

Bollywood films make multiple comebacks in vernacular languages

  • There is appeal in such remakes even in this age when the original film is available with subtitles, say filmmakers
  • Filmmakers and industry experts say there is appeal in multiple language remakes of these small, content-driven films

New Delhi: Late last month, Tamil romantic drama Adithya Varma topped the Tamil Nadu box office in its opening weekend with business of more than 6 crore in three days alone. The film, directed by Gireesaaya, is the second remake of Telugu blockbuster Arjun Reddy, which was remade in Hindi as Kabir Singh earlier this year.

After remaking Bollywood courtroom drama Pink in Tamil as Nerkonda Paarvai, producer Boney Kapoor is now looking at a Telugu version, even as Kangana Ranaut-starrer Queen has already seen Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada versions as Paris Paris, That is Mahalakshmi, and Butterfly respectively.

Filmmakers and industry experts say there is appeal in multiple language remakes of these small, content-driven films even in this age of video streaming platforms where the original film is available with subtitles for audiences.

“With engaging commercial films such as these, a lot of ingredients are similar between Hindi and southern markets," said Kapoor, who is also planning remakes of Badhaai Ho and Article 15 in South Indian languages . “A lot of the culture is the same, only certain nuances vary. You have to make sure you keep the nativity authentic," he said.

Kapoor pointed out that, historically, blockbusters and star-driven films have been remade in multiple languages, be it Amitabh Bachchan-starrers such as Don and Hum or Kapoor’s own Mr. India. Picking up these niche subjects, experts say, shows a belief that audiences across India are ready for something new and out-of-the-box. Multiplexes provide space to smaller films and audiences across the country are looking beyond the usual tropes of star, song and dance.

“Everyone wants to do something different today. Ever since a spectacle such as Baahubali came along, Bollywood has been trying to find its own perfect period drama," said film critic Manoj Kumar R.

The presence of stars helps when these films are remade in new languages, said Kapoor. While Nerkonda Paarvai featured Ajith in the lead role, the Telugu version is slated to star Pawan Kalyan. In the case of Adithya Varma, the film served as the perfect launchpad for Tamil superstar Vikram’s son Dhruv Vikram, Kumar said.

“If the content is rich, stars simply pull audiences in further. We may not have seen such huge opening-day numbers had it not been for Ajith’s presence (in Nerkonda Paarvai). The business only encourages us (to consider more languages)," Kapoor said.

Industry experts say the rights to remake a fresh box office success can come for 4-5 crore, bought either through a premium or by taking the original producer on board as a partner. However, it is getting tougher to acquire rights of south Indian hits because the filmmakers often want to cross over and make the Hindi version themselves, he said. For instance, Kabir Singh was made by Arjun Reddy director Sandeep Reddy Vanga. Shahid Kapoor’s next—a Telugu sports drama titled Jersey—is being helmed by Gowtham Tinnanauri, who directed the original version. Filmmakers are not worried about these originals being available online.

“Earlier, you could find pirated copies of films. A little later, they made their way to YouTube. It’s just that now they are releasing on legitimate platforms. The world has shrunk with social and digital media but the point is that people will enjoy content when it is in their own language and set in their own world," Kapoor said.

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