3 Bollywood Films That You Did Not Know Were Copied from Hollywood

I cannot possibly go through every Bollywood film that was copied from Hollywood because there are too many for anyone to know or list them completely. We all know that a large portion of Bollywood films are direct copies of Hollywood films. Some others are not direct copies, but copy certain parts or scenes, and then there are others that don’t copy any scenes but their main theme is inspired from a Hollywood movie. In this post, I want to mention a few movies that were copied or heavily inspired from Hollywood films but few people are aware of it.

Aisha (2010)

Aisha claims that it is an adaptation of the Jane Austen novel “Emma.” As much as I appreciate the try, they are not fooling anyone! Aisha is not an adaptation of Emma, but rather a copy of the 1995 Hollywood film Clueless, which was an adaptation of Emma! I watched Clueless as a child and it is a cult teen film. All Aisha did was adapt the film to an older age group (so that the characters were not in high school), but the scenes were quite literally copied otherwise. In fact, Sonam Kapoor even copied the style of some of the outfits! Although I am calling out Aisha on this, it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the movie. In fact, I like it a lot and I think it’s one of the most successful and stylish Hollywood adaptations out there.

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006)

Few people know that Karan Johar’s Shahrukh and Rani starrer KANK is also a copy. To give it its due, it is not a scene-by-scene copy but takes its entire premise from the 1984 Hollywood film Falling in Love which stars legendary Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep. I was lucky enough to realize this when the film was aired on television some years ago. I do love KANK, and have never succumbed to the pressures of mainstream conservative viewers who bashed it relentless for portraying infidelity. But I must make one criticism. I think where Karan went wrong with KANK is that he also gave us a deep insight into the personalities of the spouses– Riya and Rishi, played by Preity and Abhishek respectively. I think the audience made a connection with these characters and that is why there was such outrage when they were cheated on, as we naturally felt that they deserved better. Since this aspect did not exist in Falling in Love, and also because the chemistry of Shahrukh and Rani can never match a Robert and Meryl duo (if it had been Shahrukh and Kajol, maybe), the Hollywood version fairs a little better. Btw, train stations is a big theme in the original too.

Mann (1999)

I’m actually not sure to what extent people are aware that Mann is a remake. I myself did not know until I was re-watching my favorite Hollywood rom-com of all time, Sleepless in Seattle. In the film, there is a scene where Sam is having dinner with close friends Greg and Suzy and Suzy starts describing a scene from the film An Affair to Remember and suddenly starts to cry. Just watch:

When Suzy is describing the film scene, I thought to myself, wait a minute, that sounds familiar, it’s Mann! Mann is a scene by scene copy of the 1957 film starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. While Cary Grant’s character comes off as a womanizer, but a charming  and classy one nonetheless; Aamir’s character in Mann is simply obnoxious.

But that’s not all. The songs are rip-offs too. I always knew Kali Nagin Ke Jaisi was a rip-off because I remembered the melody from childhood days, but I finally got around to googling what it actually was. It’s a copy of the 1997 Arabic song “Ya Rayah” by Rachid Taha.

If you are disillusioned by that, wait for it, there is more! Nasha Yeh Pyar Ka Nasha Hai is a copy of the 1983 Italian pop song “L’Italiano” by Toto Cotugno! I guess the only original thing in this film is the genuine acting of Manisha Koirala.

For a larger list of copies/remakes, including remakes of South Indian films, go to Guide to Remakes.

How Films Influence Our Notions of Death and the After-world

I think it was in 1993 or 1994 that I had a birthday party screening the one and only 1988 cult classic “Beetlejuice.” (A 7 year old’s birthday party with Beetlejuice, and that too in Turkey, weird family I know…). As an adult, I still love this film, and not only because of its unique premise, but also how the usually ghastly topic of death is portrayed in such a humorous way. Until then in cinema, we had not considered that the dead could be a sweet couple from the suburbs, or that the after-world could be a waiting room not too different than a dentist’s. There are very few films that have actually tackled death in this satirical way, and maybe this is also why the film obtained such cult status over the years.

Bhoot World Mein Teen Cheezo ki Kami HaiThe 2008 Hindi film Boothnath starring Amitabh Bachchan followed a similar path, albeit with less humor. It was successful in normalizing death and the dead however, just as Beetlejuice had done. In Boothnaath, the dead was a grouchy but good-hearted old man (based on Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost in fact), and the after-world was basically an Indian government office.

There have been a few other Indian films that have helped disseminate some of the stigma attached to death, for example the 2013 Telugu horror comedy Prema Katha Chitram and the 2012 Bengali film Hemlock Society. Rather than using satire to display a fantasized and ironically ‘normal’ death, these films mocked suicide by suggesting suicide, thereby bringing attention to high suicide rates among youth in India.

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It’s rather sad that this humorous and satirical take on death and what await us afterward, cannot become more mainstream in cinema. There is a plethora of films and TV shows releasing daily that remind us of the horror that we normally associate with death– serial killers, revengeful murders, painful accidents, and after it’s over, zombies, vampires, ghosts and demons to haunt us and give us sleepless nights. If you notice, death is the main thread in all horror products. I don’t think we even realize the extent to which the big screen influences how we think of death. If only more cinema could take death as lightly as it often does life, and remove some of the stigmas and subconscious fears usually associated with it.

The ‘Half-Spirited’ Half Girlfriend

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(I did not read the book, so there will be no comparisons between the book and the movie in this post.)

A college love story. A guy desperate for love and following the girl everywhere like a puppy, with sad puppy eyes and puppy fat. It seems like they will never get together. He has to struggle, and pine, and pine some more, and hope for a miracle.

Does all of this sound familiar?

I will not beat around the bush for this one. Half Girlfriend is a sadder, blander version of Chetan Bhagat’s 2 States. 2 States was an enjoyable film, lighter in mood, and spiced by comparisons of North and South culture, and a watchable chemistry between the leads. Half Girlfriend is a “half-spirited” version of the former.

The story is very similar, but somehow, it doesn’t work. From the first moment until the last, it feels superficial and unconvincing. Actually, if the chemistry and acting had been better, it might have worked. I mean, objectively speaking, every hit film doesn’t have an excellent story. Much of the time, it’s the chemistry and convincing acting that carries the film through and achieves its aim. For example — the classic Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (even Karan Johar admits it), and the overrated Aashiqui 2 (yes, really). Unfortunately, these were missing in this film. It felt like the leads themselves weren’t convinced about their characters or the story, you could see that they did not fully invest in the portrayal.

Also I’m starting to see a trend in the writing of Chetan Bhagat with 2 States and Half Girlfriend, a kind of inferiority complex in the boy. In both stories, the boy feels unworthy of the girl. He doesn’t believe he is good enough for her, and yet still wants her? A “Phir Bhi Tumko Chaunga” phenomenon? Shall we ask psychologists to add a new term to the medical dictionary? Jokes apart, why is the male character so under-confident and why does he constantly feel sorry for himself? It’s kind of difficult to get the audience to root for you if you don’t have the sensibility to root for yourself.

The music is very nice, especially Baarish and Tu Hi Hai. Tu Hi Hai is delightful. In fact, I’d rather consider the film a 2 hour and 15 minute music video. After all that’s said, do I even need to tell you not to watch this film?

On a totally different side note, throughout Half Girlfriend, I kept wishing that it was Neha Sharma on screen instead of Shraddha Kapoor. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Shraddha. I enjoyed her performances in Haider and Ek Villain. I admit she has potential but she doesn’t deliver consistently. Either she doesn’t try hard enough, or maybe requires certain criteria, like a feeling of connection with the character or excellent direction, to encourage the artist inside her. Sadly, in many of her films, all that’s present is an innocent pretty face.

2017’s Best and Worst Patriotic Films

I have been on a patriotic film spree lately. From re-watching classics like Rang De Basanti, watching ones that I missed at release, like Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, and catching up with patriotic films of 2017, I have the tri-color running in my veins. So what are the best and worst patriotic films of 2017?

ghazi-attack-review-1Best: The Ghazi Attack

This is by far the best film I have seen this year. With seasoned actors like Kay Kay Menon and Atul Kulkarni, and a great performance by Rana Daggubati, the story of Indian submarine S21’s efforts to destroy a Pakistani submarine before it destroys them and launches an attack on the Indian mainland, is impressive. There is not a dull moment in this edge-of-the-seat film and you will find yourself clenching your teeth and praying for their success. You must watch The Ghazi Attack.

RangoonBest: Rangoon

I don’t understand why Rangoon didn’t perform well at the box office. I found the Vishal Bhardwaj film portraying the Indian independence movement through the perspective of the entertainment industry very impressive. Based on the real-life stuntwoman and actress “Fearless Nadia,” referred to as Miss Julia in Rangoon, played by Kangana, the film displays how the entertainment industry became part of British military propaganda and how Miss Julia found herself in the middle of it all. The original scenes, the perfect fusion of art and war, and wonderful chemistry between Kangana and Shahid, I enjoyed every minute of the film. I admit the ending was a bit far-fetched, but I can easily ignore this for the many other pluses. See it.

begumjaanposterWorst: Begum Jaan

A 2017 film that was supposed to have a patriotic message was Begum Jaan. Yes, the film notes the violence against civilians during the Indian partition. But more so than send a message about the dark side of history,  it is a fairly meaningless film that spends much of its time romanticizing brothel characters and boasting violence. Skip this one.

Gossip Girl: The Unexpected Muse

Partially, I would be embarrassed to admit that I watch Gossip Girl, the American TV series that ran between 2007 and 2012. I used to watch it when I was in college and the TV series which aimed at the high school crowd at the time appealed to me mostly because of its fashion statements. But fast forward a decade, it is kind of shocking that the show remains amusing.

Let’s face it, which self-respecting and moderate woman who takes herself seriously can take pride in admiring a show that at first glance is full of self-obsessed characters of few morals and completely unrealistic personal relationships? But the matter of fact is that I do. And it’s certainly not because everyone has slept with everyone else at some point in the show.

While Gossip Girl is a materialistic, villainous show of sexual immorality, and unrealistic plot twists from one angle, it is exuberant of attitude, style, intelligence, humor, sarcasm and wit from another. Gossip Girl combines beauty and extremely good taste in clothing with surprisingly diverse vocabulary, and amusing comebacks that hit you when you least expect it. Here are some examples to prove my case in point:

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My Love Story with Indian Films: The Inner Workings of a Bollywood Devotee

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while have gotten an insight into my relationship with Indian films. In the past, I’ve talked about my strange yearnings for scenes of films past and I’ve dived into unnecessary philosophy about film experiences more than once, but I’ve never really told you how this all started in the first place, which I’m about to do now.

I should also note that aside from the reminiscing mood that I am in now, I’ve also come to a major realization about why I am so drawn to films, and to Indian films, in particular.

It was my very first semester in college and I was having an especially difficult time adjusting to my new life in a new place. I was homesick and couldn’t fall asleep that night. It was well past 3 a.m. as I recall and out of boredom, I had no choice but to try to watch something in my tiny dorm room television. And of course I couldn’t find anything worthwhile and I had reached the unknown channels beyond 100 when I caught a glimpse of a song and stopped.

It was the funniest thing I had seen in my life. I had never seen dancing and singing like that before. I was very amused and kept laughing and watching. To my surprise, it was not just a song but a film. I found myself so immersed in the story, the characters, the colors and vibrant visuals that I didn’t even realize that I had stayed up until dawn watching it.

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Phillauri Review

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Phillauri is the second film produced by Anushka Sharma after the violently assertive NH10. This time, Clean Slate Films has come to us with a film in the genre of Fantastic Drama, starring none other than Anushka and Diljit Dosanjh, and co-leads Suraj Sharma and Mehreen Pirzada.

The film opens up in the marriage related nightmares of Suraj’s character, Kanan and proceeds to take us through the marriage events of the Canada-returned Kanan and his long-term girlfriend Anu. Kanan is not really interested in marriage and makes that obvious in every way possible, while still pushing himself through to the marriage day. His girlfriend Anu is a sweet girl who realizes Kanan’s feelings about marriage and struggles between her love for him and his clear unwillingness.

However, the relationship between Kanan and Anu and the impending marriage is only one thread in the movie, and really not the most important although we are made to believe it is in the beginning. The film weaves back and forth between two different stories and two different time frames while incorporating several other notions and events.

The antiquated ritual of freeing a “manglik” from their impending doom by getting them married to a tree and cutting the tree down later is boldly shot down in the film. And it introduces us to the real hero and heroine, Shashi and Phillauri, played by Anushka and Diljit Dosanjh. By the way, the introductory scene of Diljit’s character was just fantastic. His performance was outstanding.

Important spoilers next…do not read if you have not seen the movie yet.

If you watched the trailers, you must have already noticed that Anushka is a ghost in the film. I was quite confused what this film would be about when I noticed this. A story about a ghost can either go really well or really bad, partly depending on how realistic or unrealistic the creators choose to portray the character. I was okay with the way Anusha’s character was displayed in this film. There was, naturally, use of post-production technology, but it was still believable and exciting.

The scenes of Shashi and Phillauri were definitely the best of the entire movie. The story and chemistry between the characters were really moving. I found myself completely invested in their interaction and connection. There is always something powerful in love that is embedded with honor and principle. A love that causes a positive and permanent change in the identity of the person who experiences it. And having such high regard for someone that a single criticism made by them can cause a change in your entire perspective and your priorities in life. These are the aspects that make the love story in Phillauri so beautiful.

And the most important part of the film is most definitely the reference that was made to the Amritsar Massacre and the people who were killed there. At the end of the film, I felt that this truly was what the film was about and I appreciate the way that the writer, Anvita Dutt, was able to expertly weave so many different concepts and notions together to conclude them in this way.

An additional plus of the film was the music, beautiful songs and a beautiful background score.

There were also some downsides to the film, for example the sometimes very sloppy and irritating dialogue delivery of Suraj which drained some of the scenes. Another is the discrepancy in the character of Shashi. I did not really understand how someone of such high principles and standards in things like content of songs and poetry, did not display these principles when she chose to have intimacy before marriage. I am not judging her, I just did not feel that it was consistent behavior for the character. The cliched opposition and later acceptance of the lovers by Shahsi’s brother was unrealistic. The conclusion for the characters of Kanan and Anu was also unrealistic for me, although I can see how witnessing a mesmerizing reunion of two such lovers could do that to people.

Overall, I felt that Phillauri was a delightful watch. I watched Badrinath Ki Dulhania on the same day and although I have great partiality for Alia and really enjoyed that film as well, Phillauri was on another level for me and really left a lasting positive feeling.