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.

hemlock-society-2012-342

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.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Vertigo and Psycho

 

There is no doubt that you have heard of Hitchcock and his films before. But perhaps you have not seen them, and maybe you are not in the right state of mind to see them now. If you haven’t seen them, just make mental note of this, do not read the rest and come back after seeing the films. Any and all spoilers should be avoided for Hitchcock films because they have a most detrimental effect on the experience of the film.

Rear Window (1954)

Of these three films, what is different about Rear Window is that it has a happy, feel-good ending. It is less dramatic and less frightening than the films that follow. What it holds in common with Vertigo and Psycho however is the fantastic use of the camera. In an interview, Hitchcock talks about how he doesn’t have a page to fill, but rather a rectangle. This phrase in itself explains Hitchcock’s outlook on cinema and how much importance he gives to how visuals are displayed on our screen. And maybe that is why he is so good at it. In Rear Window, from that one window of the protagonist, many lives come to life. Just like Jeff himself, we become more concerned about what is happening in other people’s lives than his own. In the very end of the film, when Jeff is in his chair, this time with two broken legs, rather than one, we are left with a comforting feeling, a kind of peace that the routine of a chaotic neighborhood brings about.

Vertigo (1958)

The main theme of Vertigo, that an ex-police detective is requested by an old acquaintance to follow his wife believing that she has been possessed by a ghost, was both surprising and also welcoming to me. It was surprising because I had not expected one of the most cherished film-makers of all time to pursue such a topic (well it turns out he didn’t after all), and welcoming because the storyline is no stranger for my psychological thriller loving mind. We all know how inclined Indian thrillers are to a supernatural aspect. So immediately, I felt like in my own turf from the beginning of the film. I did not expect however, the criminal and dark developments that were to follow.

Psycho (1960)

I remember a college course in which the climax scene of this beautiful black and white film was shown to us, once with the music and once without, to explain the influence of music on cinema. Now I realize how rude that instructor was to release such a spoiler to me before I saw the film. What strikes me in this film is how common-place the events seem until the climax arrives, and how Hitchcock manages to express decisions, events and emotions without using much dialogue. It only occurred to me after seeing the film that I understood the character’s decision in the scene in which she is packing her bags, by the movement of the camera rather than dialogue. The camera simply moves between her face, what she is doing and what she is looking at. It becomes clear that her thoughts repeatedly move back to the bundle of money, and she continues to pack her suitcase. If this had been any other film, we would have given a paragraph of dialogue explaining what she’s doing and why she’s doing it. Suddenly, it is all unnecessary, and all can be done in a scene without any dialogue whatsoever.

Another thing that starts to hit me through Psycho, and after watching Vertigo is how Hitchcock’s films appear to be about one story and one character in the beginning, only to end up being about something else completely. Normally, that’s a very tricky and difficult thing to accomplish because it can be very easy to disappoint the viewer. But his stories are so intertwined and he uses such expertise in drawing us from one character’s life into another’s, that it does not bother at all.

I also want to mention that the small little hints that foreshadow the future of the story, and that can be considered a measurement of an effective thriller, are found in Hitchcock’s Psycho. To me, this is the most vital aspect of psychological thrillers, to make the audience want to see the film again after knowing the ending, so that he or she can view it in a different light, noticing things that were not noticed before. I had earlier been astounded by Manichitrathazhu’s ability to do that, to make the hints so overtly visible and which are yet ignored by the audience until some mass conclusion tells us to think back to them. This happened to me in a scene in Psycho when the Norman Bates character walks up the stairs of his house in a most feminine fashion before we ever realize why.

Tomorrowland Review: Not Worth It

I caught this film at the theaters yesterday. I decided just by reading the short summary provided there and it sounded interesting. I was however, largely disappointed. The first half of the film was all right and managed to keep my intrigue. I liked the production of “Tomorrowland.” It all looked very real and convincing. However, in the second half of the film, the story started becoming kind of silly with all sorts of random ideas emerging at the last minute. In the beginning I though the film was about some revolutionary way that the world and all that is bad in it could be changed. But at the end, they sent us home with a message along the lines of “have good thoughts and all will be well.” So it all felt so silly and ridiculous at the end. It was also funny how the filmmaker’s idea of “bad stuff” are mostly just natural disasters that humans have no control over. So that undermined the whole basis of the story for me.

Another reason I wanted to see the film was because George Clooney is in the cast. But aside from the very first few minutes, he’s not even in the first half of the film. The lead actor here is Britt Robertson but the person who actually really impressed me with her performance was Raffey Cassidy. She is amazing! She acts better than seasoned actors and just blew me away with her ability.

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this film to you. Don’t waste your money on it, wait till it comes on TV or the net to watch it.

Unforgettable 80s and 90s Hollywood Films

I’m no American film buff. I rarely watch any these days. Who can find time from the 1000 some Indian films released every year? But I watched many growing up and there are some scenes from those films that revisit me time and again over the years. Here are some unforgettable American films and scenes that come to mind right now. Keep in mind that I found these films awesome when I was a kid, so don’t judge me on my film taste please!

Sleepless in Seattle 1993

Possibly my favorite American film of all time. I love everything about this film but my favorite scene is when Meg Ryan is driving on Christmas eve and singing along to Christmas songs on the radio: “horses, horses, horses.”

A Christmas Story 1983

Anyone who’s lived in the States for a while must have seen this gem of a film at least once. It’s a classic that’s shown every year at Christmas time. And what’s the most iconic part of the film? It’s no doubt that leg lamp!

Groundhog Day 1993

A man that lives the same exact day every single day he wakes up, and it’s Groundhog day, every day. It was such a different idea for a film at that time and  is one of those films that is difficult to forget. My favorite scenes in the film are those when he wakes up and realizes yet again that he’s in the same day.

Home Alone 1990

The American film I have seen the greatest number of times. My favorite scenes are those when  Kevin realizes he’s home all alone and starts having way too much fun. The best family film made yet. The sequels were good too but nothing beats the first one.

Hocus Pocus 1993

For those who don’t know, if you live in America, you watch Christmas films at Christmas and witch movies at Halloween. And when you start looking forward to watching these films, then you realize you’ve become an American. The second sign of becoming an American is developing seasonal allergies. The only unforgettable Halloween film for me is Hocus Pocus. Those three witches were scary and awesome at the same time.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids 1989

What a fantastic film this was. For a child’s imaginative mind, this was as good as it got at the time. The rush of excitement I felt when those kids shrunk to a tiny size is unforgettable to me. Come to think of it, those sets were very impressive for those times.

Beetlejuice 1988

This list couldn’t be complete without Beetlejuice. I actually saw this film before I lived in the States. Turkish cinema, as is now, was very behind in comparison to Hollywood. So this film was the biggest thing at the time and all the kids loved it. In fact, my parents showed this film at our house for my 7th or 8th birthday party. The concept, the sets and the production technology was so new and unique for that time. The most unforgettable scene for me? Well there are actually many like when Beetlejuice is waiting his turn in the afterlife. But the best one is the Day-o Banana Boat song. Can anything beat that?! My mom to this day says that this is her favorite film and the Day-o song her favorite American film song. Are we crazy for loving Beetlejuice so much? I don’t know!

Mrs. Doubtfire 1993

Watching Robin Williams dress up as an old woman was just way too much fun. The family sentiments were also strong in this film.

Dead Poets Society 1989

Yet another unforgettable film. Possibly the best performance of Robin Williams. A film that can be watched repeatedly and many years later with just as much emotion and satisfaction. Talk about inspiration!

Ghostbusters 1984

I can’t believe this film came out so long ago! It feels just like yesterday that we were watching the Ghostbusters kick those ghosts’ ass. Another iconic film of my childhood that I will never forget. The most unforgettable part? Absolutely that Ghostbusters background song! I can hear it in my head right now!

Back to the Future 1985

Man, 90s films were great! Why don’t I feel so strongly of today’s Hollywood films? Is it because I was a child then and I was more imaginative? Was it because the stories of those films were more unique and creative? Whatever it was, I can’t seem to get the same flavor out of American films of today. And Back to the Future is on top of the list of best 90s films. The best part? Those sets and “Doc!”

Gremlins 1984

I was surprised to see this film categorized as a “horror comedy” because as a child, this was nothing but horror for me! I had nightmares after watching this movie! My brother certainly didn’t help by yelling “the gremlins are coming, the gremlins are coming!”

Child’s Play 1988

Talking about nightmares, here’s a film that gave every child nightmares at the time, the unforgettable Chucky series. I had quite a few sleepless nights as a result of this movie. The worse part was that at one point I had a doll that looked just like Chucky that continued to speak after I removed the batteries. Needless to say, that doll was in the trash bin five minutes later and I was holding on to my mother tightly. I did not dare to watch a Chucky film again.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1984

Another unforgettable series, the Indiana Jones series. The one that is unforgettable to me is the second of the series from 1984. The best scene? The scene where they eat monkey brains of course.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 1986

This was an awesome fun movie that I had related to very well because I hated school and always wanted to run away and do other things. Of course, I never did. So I would comfort myself with this crazy fun film.

Problem Child 1990

I honestly don’t remember all that much from this movie. But I can never forget the birthday party scene with the song “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” It was a hit film and a hit song at the time.

Coming to America 1988

I think this is my favorite Eddie Murphy film. This film was just so entertaining. My favorite scenes were when they were working at “McDowell’s.”

Jumanji 1995

I think this was my first fantasy adventure film. I found the concept very unique and interesting. I still remember that Jumanji board game.

Arachnophobia 1990

Another horror film from the 90s that had a huge effect on me, and in a bad way. I became very scared of spiders after this film, something that I’ve overcome as an adult. But the scenes from the film are still vivid in my mind, especially the scenes where the the spiders are coming out of the sink and crawl on the woman’s body as she’s showering. I think my parents let me watch too many horror films as a child.

Quantum Leap 1989-1993

This was not a film but a television series I adored growing up. Scientist Sam would leap from year to year, traveling in time in each episode. In each episode, he had the opportunity to fix something, to prevent something bad from happening. And he would always end up in a different body in each episode. What a thrilling and meaningful television series this was. I never missed an episode and watched re-runs for years. The best part? Al, who appears as a hologram and guides Sam in each episode.