The scene has that extra exaggeration which is typical of a regular Telugu movie. The hero in the Hindi film shows off his biceps and lifts men as if they are cotton-filled pillows — and sends them flying in the air. Zoom out a bit, and the plots too bear elements that are unmistakably Deccan. Well, the biggest blockbusters in Bollywood this year have all been remakes of south Indian flicks.
Ready, the highest grosser with a collection of Rs 130 crore since its release on June 3, is an import of a 2008 Telugu movie by the same name. Anees Bazmee has directed the comic caper starring Salman Khan and Asin Thottumkal.
Similar is the case with Singam. Starring Suriya, it profiles the classic tale of an upright cop pitted against a villain — was has been remade into Hindi by Rohit Shetty, director of the successful Golmaal series. Shetty said during the release of the film on July 22 that he was craving to make a hero-villain drama since a long time — and Singam fitted the bill. The Ajay Devgn-starrer
Singham grossed Rs 90 crore so far and is still running strong.
“While producing a remake,” says Priti Shahani, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, Reliance Big Pictures, which distributed Singam, “One is sure of the success that it will have as the project has been tried and tested earlier.”
The trend that it has become now trails back to three years. To begin with, to the success of Ghajini (Rs 170 crore) in 2008 and Wanted (Rs 75 crore) a year later as the second remake of Telugu blockbuster Pokiri (2006). These set the template of the south-brand masala entertainer in Hindi with the hero mouthing punchlines with wry and in-the-face humour.
Even the upcoming big releases this year are south imports. Bodyguard, starring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor, is a remake of a 2010 Malayalam movie by the same name. The Hindi version releases on August 31. Fox Star Studios along with Vipul Amrutlal Shah is producing Gautham Menon’s Kaaka Kaaka as Force in Hindi. The movie starring John Abraham is expected to release on September 30. Apart from this, the studio has also tied up with Gautham Menon to remake 2010 Tamil film Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya in Hindi.
“South Indian films have great scripts,” says Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star studios. “The stories are deep-rooted in the emotional and cultural fabric of the people. Action and emotional films lend themselves to remakes. We have lined up a couple of remakes of very successful films from the south.”
Industry officials the south has “always had an edge” over Bollywood in terms of story-telling. “In a remake, one gets a ready script once the rights are bought,” notes one of them.
However, remaking of films is a two-way street. While Bollywood is eyeing down south, even Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam film industry are taking inspiration from them. Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 3 Idiots is being made in Tamil and there are talks of Golmaal and All the Best being remade. In the past, Sanjay Dutt-starrer Munnabhai MBBS (2003) was made into Vasool Raja MBBS a year later with Kamal Haasan as the lead.
Even trade analysts and industry officials suggest that both action flicks with a larger-than life hero and comedy films have done well in Bollywood. As film trade analyst Taran Adarsh says, “When you already have a film with a good script, there is an advantage in doing a remake. If the film has already tasted commercial success with the audience, the chances of success are higher.”