New Delhi: Old is gold and there is nobody better than Indian filmmakers to testify to this. Even as bold narratives and new storytelling techniques find acceptance, Indian cinema is turning to old, iconic stories to find new audiences this year.
Director Soumitra Ranade’s Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai that releases this Friday is evidently a remake of the 1980 comedy drama helmed by Saeed Akhtar Mirza.
The movie, however, is not the first or the only cult classic up for a rehash this season.
Filmmaker Mudassar Aziz will cast Kartik Aaryan, Bhumi Pednekar and Ananya Pandey in a remake of the 1978 Sanjeev Kumar-starrer Pati Patni Aur Woh, while Abhishek Kapoor will direct a remake of Amitabh Bachchan’s 1984 comedy drama Sharaabi.
Bollywood is not the only industry keen on remakes or reboots.
Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar will present a Bengali film titled Avijatrik that will take Satyajit Ray’s iconic Apu trilogy forward. Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya, an animation film inspired by Ray’s Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, was released in March.
The concept of remakes is not new, but films such as Don (2006) and Agneepath (2012) have been few and far between, and there has hardly ever been such a spate of Hindi movie remakes slated for release together.
The track record mostly reads well though, Don ( ₹50.34 crore) and Agneepath ( ₹119.98 crore) sit alongside Umrao Jaan ( ₹7.42 crore) and Karzzz ( ₹10.33 crore).
Filmmakers admit the appeal of these cult classics remains unmatched. The challenge is to present them in a new avatar to millennial audiences, who not just make up the majority of theatre-going viewers but also drive crowds in the opening weekend, which often contributes 40-50% of a movie’s overall earnings.
“The idea of remaking these films comes from the fact that we, as filmmakers, are influenced by films that we have seen while growing up," said Aziz. “We realize that we are dealing with millennials who may have not seen the film before. So the idea is to come up with our own unique takes and have a go at the same plot to tell a millennial story," he said.
“There is a certain borrowing of innocent plot setting from the bygone era. I think these stories allow us to revisit simpler plots instead of creating shock value, which has become so common," Aziz said.
The new films will not be exactly like the originals, but tailored to suit millennial outlook and tastes. Pati Patni Aur Woh, for instance, is a comical take on extramarital affairs.
“The 2019 version of Pati Patni Aur Woh will not take any of the liberties that the Pati Patni Aur Woh of 1978 did because the way we look at marriages and relationships has changed, the way a woman looks at relationships and what she wants from marriage has changed. Hence, my film will be nothing like the original but will be very respectful to the original plot where this whole drama began," Aziz said.
A remake should neither be a copy nor a bigger, snazzier version of an old film but cognisant of its basic soul and spirit, Ranade said. “The story in itself has appeal for every generation," Ranade said.
However, while the new film addresses the same issues of a common man’s anger, the lead here is a middle-class educated professional unlike the mechanic in 1980.
Independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai said the brand name and curiosity value attached to the remake of a classic is undeniable but expectations are high too, especially when the narratives have become part of textbooks and the actors are revered figures.
“We have a certain standard to live up to but I guess you have to man up to the responsibility and try and tell the story in your way and be respectful and mindful of an audience that has loved the original and at the same time be open and accepting towards an audience that we are targeting the film towards now," Aziz said.