Geethaanjali Versus Alone

The 2015 Hindi film Alone, starring Bipasha Basu, is the remake of the 2007 Thai film Alone, same as the 2013 Malayalam film Geethaanjali. I saw all three and I think Geethaanjali is the better film.

Hindi Alone is basically a combination of Thai Alone and Malayalam Geethaanjali. They took the basic story from the original and the location — Kerala — from Geethaanjali. But midway through the film, Hindi Alone experience a sharp change in the story. Suddenly, it turns into a horror film about exorcism, rather than the psychological horror that was the original. Hindi Alone is also very sexualized.

I think that the Hindi remake should have stuck to the original story because Bipasha Basu’s acting, especially in the last few scenes were fantastic and far superior to the lead actresses of the other films. The cinematography and the animation of the ghost were also best in the Hindi Alone.

The only downside to the Hindi version is that Alone wasn’t meant to be a traditional horror film, it’s an eerie psychological film where the horror really plays in the lead character’s mind rather than reality. That’s why it was probably chosen as the script for the Malayalam Geethaanjali, the spin-off of Manichitrathazu which gave a significant role to Mohanlal as the psychiatrist. The Hindi version is more predictable, more common and similar to every other ghost and exorcism film we’ve come across. I must also express my distaste in the several sexualized songs and the totally unrelated and unnecessary song at the end of Hindi Alone.

It’s actually interesting that such a different and off-beat Asian horror thriller has been remade so many times in India. The film was also made in the Tamil industry, starring Priyamani, and in the Telugu industry as far as I know but I didn’t catch them.

I think those who haven’t seen the Thai original or any of the other remakes will enjoy the Hindi alone. But when it comes to staying true to the flavor and character of the original film, with an infusion of Indian culture, and of course — the delightful return of Dr. Sunny from Manichitrathazu– I think that the Malayalam Geethaanjali is the better of the Alone films I have seen.

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Love Aaj Kal Versus Teen Maar

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Teen Maar is the Telugu remake of the Hindi film Love Aaj Kal, starring Pawan Kalyan and Trisha. The original cast included Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone and Rishi Kapoor. Rishi Kapoor’s role was played by Paresh Rawal in Teen Maar, which was a pleasant surprise.

If you have not seen the Hindi version, Teen Maar is about a modern Indian couple in the UK that break up because the girl is moving to India. They both move on and meet new people but they’re not able to get over one another entirely. Michael (Pawan) is a modern chef who doesn’t believe in love ever after and dislikes committment. After Meera (Trisha) goes to India, he befriends a restaurant owner who tells Michael about the story of his friend Arjun (Pawan). He tells Michael about how Arjun fell in love and never gave up on his love until it became a success.

Slowly, Michael comes to the realization that he is in love with Meera, but by this time it’s too late. Meera is getting married. Right after the wedding is over, Meera realizes that she is still in love with Michael and calls him. But she finds out that he has gotten a job in the US and will be going there. She never tells him anything. The rest of the film is about whether Michael decides to go after his love and whether the two are able to come together.

Teen Maar is not an exact copy of Love Aaj Kal. Most of the scenes are directly copied, even the dialogues in those scenes are the same. But new elements were added to the story for this remake. The characters that Pawan Kalyan is playing are different in this film. There are also added fight scenes, some fancy hero-wala dialogues and the scene where Saif was beaten up toward the end of LAK was removed altogether. God forbid, what will Telugu cinemagoers do if they see Pawan Kalyan beaten up on screen?! Telugu heroes don’t get beaten, they do all the beating.

I got acquainted with Pawan Kalyan films fairly late and I can’t deny that I was very impressed with him in Attharintiki Daaredi. But the more of his films I see, the more I feel that he delivers his dialogues the same way in every film. But I guess that’s true for everyone. Everyone has a style that they maintain and the audience expects and waits for that. I think Pawan did a good job as Arjun in this film but I was not impressed with the way he portrayed Michael.

Saif Ali Khan has an interesting, fancy accent in English. He’s not very educated but, well, he’s a prince, like, really. And he shines in these handsome, charismatic, player roles. So he was excellent in LAK and suited that role perfectly. Pawan did not suit the Michael role. He tried very hard to speak English like a Londoner but unfortunately, that came across and his fake accent became annoying after a while. Moreover, he did not dub over his voice for this film, so his voice always sounded different (lower) than the other characters’ voices.

Trisha is another huge disappointment in Teen Maar. Trisha is one of my favorite South actresses but this has to be one of her worst performances. Deepika was still a newcomer when she did LAK and her dialogue delivery was poor in that film. But she still outdid Trisha. If you watch Trisha’s scenes in this film, you will get the feeling that before each shot, she sat down and watched Deepika’s performance in LAK and tried her best to copy it. She even copied Deepika’s dialogue delivery exactly in some scenes. With dozens of films behind her, why in the world did Trisha feel the need to copy a less experienced actress’ performance? And because of this, her performance did not feel genuine in this film. Her perfomance seemed fake because it was.

Love Aaj Kal is one of my favorite Imtiaz Ali films. I think the casting for that film was perfect. No one else could have been better for those roles. And the story was one that I could really connect with because despite living in a modern era, I have always held very traditional views about love. So I felt that LAK portrayed the clash between modern ideas about love and traditional ideals sucessfully. My favorite scene in LAK is the very last scene when Deepika comes down and starts hitting Saif. She is crying and hitting him and hugging him and hitting him again. This was the moment when Deepika really impressed me because she got across her emotions very well.

I also love the dialogues and the music in LAK. “Main senti hogayi” became a common phrase after this film. And “mango people” was hilarious. I love the dialogue delivered by Saif during Meera’s wedding. I love his confusion and honesty in that scene.

The music of LAK was also great, the songs have been on my music player since the release of the film (Aahun Aahun is my favorite). The music of Teen Maar is good too, but not as impressive as the LAK album. The song Chor Bazari was actually redone for Teen Maar, they copied the music and choreography but somehow, they still couldn’t make it as good as the original song. The great choreography in LAK is also worthy of mention.

So when it comes to LAK versus Teen Maar, Teen Maar really doesn’t compare to LAK. The original is the way to go in this case. You should see Teen Maar only if you are a super duper fan of Pawan, if you don’t watch Hindi films, if you want to compare the two films for yourself.

One of the reasons I saw the film actually was to see what Pawan’s wife looks like. He met his wife, an Australian model, on Teen Maar sets. I first thought that she was the one playing Michelle, the second girlfriend in the film, but it turns out that’s Danah Marks. So his wife played an extra somewhere in the film but who knows where.

Parugu Versus Heropanti

tumblr_mlia1fFrjb1s2dzq6o1_1280heropanti paruguParugu is a 2008 Telugu film starring Allu Arjun and Sheera. Heropanti is the 2014 Hindi remake starring Tiger Shroff and Kriti Sanon.

Both films are about the elopement of the daughter of a powerful man, played by Prakash Raj, and the search for the daughter. In order to locate the runaway couple, the father and his men kidnap and house arrest friends of the boy. One friend is the cunning and courageous lad, played by Allu and Tiger, respectively.

When Allu/Tiger realizes that the girl he is in love with lives in the same village where he is being held, he decides to stay on and help the family locate the runaway couple, supposedly. The girl he has fallen for turns out to be the younger sister of the runaway girl, and her marriage too is arranged. The rest of the film is whether Allu/Tiger get the girl to fall for him and what happens when it’s time for the younger girl to marry.

Finally, a South remake that’s just as good as the original. When it comes to originals versus remakes, I usually hate the remake. But this time, I’m satisfied with the remake. Most of Heropanti is a scene by scene copy of Parugu, but a few scenes were moved around and the ending was changed a little. I guess if I have to pick one, I would pick Parugu just for Allu’s performance and the comedy scenes. But Heropanti is no less of a film.

One thing both films have in common is publicity. According to wikipedia, Parugu grabbed attention because of the rumors that the story was based on the real-life elopement of Chiranjeevi’s daughter (Allu is Chiranjeevi’s nephew). Heropanti has grabbed a lot of attention because it is the debut of Jackie Shroff’s son Tiger.

Here are according to me, the strengths and weaknesses of Parugu and Heropanti:

Parugu Strengths

The strength of Parugu is Allu Arjun who gave a great performance in that film. His style, dialogues, body language and charisma are what made Parugu entertaining. Allu has his own signature style. I think it’s the combination of cool attitude and sarcasm that his character always carries. Moreover, he is fantastic in the comedy and romance scenes in this film. His eyes are extremely expressive and I love the way he delivers his dialogues.

Take the scene in Parugu when he finds the goondas harassing the girl. Allu’s character is unbelievably angry in that scene. First he is relieved that he found her, then he is bursting with anger and he expresses it amazingly well. He was also fantastic when the girl is made to recognize him, he has a foolish, love-bitten smile and expression. And the way he looks at the girl when they are out searching for the sister in Hyderabad… his looks can make a girl melt! And he was great in the scene in the temple as well. So when it comes to Parugu, the cake really goes to Allu for playing that character so well and entertaining us throughout the film.

The other strengths of Parugu are that there is a good dose of comedy and the music is good.

Parugu Weaknesses

The actress in Parugu should have been more beautiful. It’s a weakness only because Allu’s character falls for the girl at one glimpse. And the character is such that once he falls in love, there is no going back. Once he’s fixed on a girl, that’s the only person he’ll love. And mind you, Allu is looking very handsome in this movie, so in order for the story to be believable, the girl should have been very beautiful.

Heropanti Strengths

Tiger and Kriti are both strengths of the film. Despite being debutantes, they acted very well. I had my doubts about Tiger after seeing some of the stills and posters of the film. I found Tiger’s facial features unusual for a “hero”. But when I watched the film, it did not bother me at all. I’m actually surprised by how well Tiger performed for his first film. He has good dialogue delivery and I like his voice. He can also express through his eyes when he wants. I actually think that this is one of the best star son debuts of recent years. Tiger is also brilliant in stunts and fights. I think Heropanti has been an excellent debut for him.

There are a lot of jokes circulating in social media about Tiger’s facial resemblance to the actress Kareena Kapoor. I did not want to comment on this but there was one scene in Heropanti where Tiger’s face emerges in the dark. For a moment, I thought it was Kareena. But it was just that scene. I think we’re going to get over this thought as we see more of his films.

Kriti is a beautiful and a talented actress. She performed her role well.

The stunts and fight scenes in Heropanti are impressive.

Heropanti Weaknesses

The family in Heropanti is presented even more backward than they were in Parugu. The male family members are more scary. There are also less comedy scenes. So the overall mood of the film is a little more serious than Parugu.

The romance could have been upped a notch. Parugu had a few more romance scenes and the emotions got across better in the original. There was romance in Heropanti but I think it would have been even better if there was a little more. I think the issue was also that Tiger’s expressions fell short in some scenes. Like I said, Allu was very expressive in Parugu, so he left no doubt about how much he is in love with the girl. Tiger fell a little short in this department in some scenes. There were some scenes in the latter part of the film where I expected nice expressions from Tiger but his face was just blank. He could have done better in the climax scenes with the father.

The background music of the film is hideous and painful to hear.

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Differences Between Parugu and Heropanti

  • In Parugu, Allu’s character is introduced in the street at night, whereas Tiger in Heropanti is introduced in a gym room (which is convenient for stunts!)
  • In Parugu, Allu sees the girl for the first time in the village (when running towards the railway tracks) and falls in love with her in that moment. In Heropanti, they added a previous scene showing Tiger seeing the girl and falling in love with her earlier.
  • In Parugu, the girl is extremely innocent. Her family has taught her that it’s wrong to love. She is also told not to look into a man’s eyes or she’ll fall for him and she’ll be ruined. She believes all this and avoids Allu’s character as much as possible. (This is also why in both films, the girl suddenly closes her eyes when forced to look at Tiger. It didn’t make sense in Heropanti because they left this bit about the girl out.) In fact, in Parugu, she basically hates him up until she goes to his house while searching in the city. But in Heropanti, the girl does not appear to be against love at any point in the film.
  • There is no such scene in Parugu where Tiger is shown showering and then hugging the girl in Heropanti. Why did he touch her and kiss her, despite talking about loving another girl? That was a strange scene.
  • There is no going out and partying in Parugu like there is in Heropanti. Moreover, in Parugu, we are introduced to Allu’s mother and the whole group end up staying in Allu’s house in Hyderabad (Delhi in Heropanti).
  • In Parugu, the family does not honor kill, so after the girl yells at her father in the street, the father just goes away after his dialogue. In Heropanti, they want to kill the couple but decide not to in the last minute.
  • At the end of the film in Parugu, Allu tells the father that he came to the wedding not to run away with his daughter, but just to talk to him. In Parugu, it’s Allu who rejects the girl. In Heropanti, Tiger says he came to run away with the girl, but the girl refused. Also, there is no fight scene at the end of Parugu. They just stop the guys in the same forest near the railway and the father tells him to go and take his daughter.
  • There are more comedy scenes in Parugu than in Heropanti and the comedy is done well. In fact, some of Allu’s friends are comedy actors. So all of the scenes in the shed were super funny. Heropanti, unfortunately, tamed down the comedy a little which again made the film more serious overall.

If you have seen Parugu and wondering whether to see Heropanti, I recommend Heropanti for Tiger. Tiger is here to stay, so you may want to see his debut film if you’re a Bollywood fan. If you’ve seen Heropanti, then I definitely recommend seeing Parugu as well. See it and enjoy Allu’s fantastic performance in that film.

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Differences between Manichitrathazhu and Bhool Bhulaiyaa

I decided to make this post because someone said on a forum that Bhool Bhulaiyaa is a scene-by-scene copy of Manichitrathazhu. That’s not the case, it’s close, but there are many added scenes and scenes that were played out slightly differently.

Bhool Bhulaiyaa is still the closest remake of Manichitrathazhu. Chandramukhi was vastly different. I know the film was remade in several other industries too, but I haven’t seen those remakes so I cannot comment. Bhool Bhulaiyaa was definitely a superb try at a remake. This is not surprising since BB was directed by Priyadarshan, an assistant director in Manichitrathazhu.

The biggest point I give to BB is that the psychiatrist friend was introduced in the second half of the movie, just as it was in Manichitrathazhu. To give more screen space to Rajnikanth, they had introduced the psychiatrist from the very beginning of the movie in Chandramukhi. I’m glad that the same wasn’t done in Bhool Bulaiyaa.

The psychiatrist friend was introduced in the second half of Bhool Bhulaiyya, just as it was done in Manichitrathazhu.

So here are the scenes that I’ve found to be different in Bhool Bhulaiyaa. To avoid confusion I am referring to the characters with the names used in BB. I refer to Manichitrathazhu as M and Bhool Bhulaiyaa as BB.

  • In M, when uncle visits the mahal, he was talking to himself the whole time. In BB, uncle is again scared in the mahal, but he actually talks to the workers and the heaviness of the cot/bed is also mentioned.
  • In the second scene, the son-in-law was introduced. He was introduced later (during the book giving scene) in M.
  • When choti uncle’s wife is putting a tali on him in MM, it was Radha who had seen them, not Nandini
  • The whole Raja ceremony was added to BB
  • When Nandini tells Avni about her fiancé and where he lives in M, Avni had a very weird way of looking at the son-in-law, as if she was mesmerized with him. There is absolutely no expression on Avni in this scene in BB
  • There was no mass pooja with the whole family in M, it was only the uncles and the pandit.
  • Story of the court dancer was again told by aunt to Avni, but they were all alone at the house in M.
  • Avni didn’t look affected much from the portrait of the dancer when she first walks into Manjulika’s room.
  • Nandini’s younger sister, who lost her ability to speak after being frightened in the mahal as a child was an addition to BB. It did not exist in M.
  • Saree scene where Avni sees the poison did not exist in M.
  • When the uncles went to tie the upper room’s door with the pandit, Manjulika did talk to them, but she had a normal voice, not the monstrous voice that was electronically created in BB. The voice in BB is over-the-top.
  • When choti uncle started suspecting that Radha had gone mad in M, Radha had been yelling at the maids about the saree burning incident. She was speaking sarcastically and making fun of them. In BB, choti uncle saw her yelling at the dressmaker with a knife in her hand.
  • There was no money giving to rickshaw driver in M when Dr. Aditya arrives.
  • When Nandini was searching for Avni upstairs, she was not strangled with a rope, hit in the head with a swing and dragged into a room in M. She was only chased into a room where she fainted.
  • In M, Dr. had asked Siddhart to take Radha to the temple. There is no such scene in BB, they just happen to be at the temple and Dr. Aditya points out Siddhart and Radha praying together to Avni.
  • When Dr. Aditya and Radha’s brother are traveling, they use many modes of transportation and they don’t just bike for kilometers, thankfully!
  • There was no marriage in M, there was just a Karnataka performance that the family went to see. The marriage celebration in BB was clearly borrowed from Chandramukhi.
  • When Dr. Aditya was explaining the truth about Avni to Siddharth, the odd occurrences that had occurred in the beginning of the movie were shown to be done by Avni. She was throwing stones, breaking things, pushing clocks and acting like she was scared. There is no such scene in M. Who or what was responsible for those occurrences remain a mystery.

Character Differences

  • Radha in M, is uncle’s daughter, not an adopted girl. Also, she is not a single girl waiting to marry Siddharth, but rather a divorcee whom Siddharth’s mother refused as a bride because of an issue in her astrology.
  • Elder uncle in M had a temper, but he was also an affectionate man. Elder uncle in BB is too stern, and always angry. He doesn’t show any affection in his expressions
  • Avni’s husband Siddharth was a more serious guy in M, he was very immersed in his work and had little to no time to spare for his wife. In BB, he is much closer to his wife. In M, it was suggested that the distance between Ganga and her husband was a cause of her boredom and one of the reasons that she took fancy towards the court dancer story. In BB, their relationship is portrayed as a perfect and happy one.
  • Dr. Aditya was a Christian in M. This was an important point, especially since Aditya and Siddhart are portrayed as very close friends and Aditya also wants to marry Radha, a Hindu as the movie ends.

The scene where Ganga, played by Shobana, transforms into Nagavalli in front of her husband and starts speaking Tamil is the most impactful scene of Manichitrathazhu. The same scene played by Vidya in Bhool Bhulaiyyaa was not as effective.

Technical Differences

Language: I think the fact that Ganga was singing in Tamil in the Malayalam version made a greater impact than Avni singing in Bengali in the Hindi version. It seemed more unlikely for Ganga to know Tamil than for Avni to know Bengali. I don’t know Bengali, Malayalam or Tamil but Tamil sounds much more different than Malayalam. As for Bengali, I could understand most of what she was saying when singing/speaking in Bengali. So it was not shocking for the audience as it should have been.

Songs: The songs in Manichitrathazhu added meaning to the story. The songs portrayed Avni’s troubled mind, her sadness and her memories which were coming back to her in this mahal. The song sung by Dr. Sunny in Manichitrathazhu after the poison incident was meant to pacify Ganga who had started taking on the personality of Nagavalli. So the songs were required for the story and for the portrayal of Avni. The songs in Bhool Bhulaiyyaa are more commercial and tell us nothing about Avni’s troubles or her past. So her character remains underdeveloped. We can’t understand Avni like we understood Ganga.

Character Names:

Manichitrathazhu                                           Bhool Bhulaiyaa

Dr. Sunny Joseph (Mohanlal)                        Dr. Aditya Shrivastav (Akshay)

Ganga  (Shobana)                                          Avni Chaturvedi (Vidya)

Nakulan (Suresh)                                             Siddharth Chaturvedi (Shiney)

Sridevi (Vinaya)                                                Radha (Ameesha)

Thampi (Nedumudi)                                         Badrinarayan (Manoj)

Unnithan (Innocent)                                         Batushankar (Paresh)

Random fact

  • The actor who played son-in-law in BB—Prof. Shashidhar—is Vineeth. He played son-in-law and lover of Manjulika in the Tamil version, Chandramukhi, as well.

In conclusion, I urge you to watch Manichitrathazhu if you haven’t. I had seen Bhool Bhulaiyaa before Manichitrathazhu and I still enjoyed Manichitrathazhu so much. BB is mostly a one-time watch, but Manichitrathazhu can be watched many times. At every watch, you will discover something new that you missed before. Manichitrathazhu will leave you wondering about things…there is curiosity… something which is lacking Bhool Bhulaiyyaa. The more I watch the remakes, the more I appreciate Manichitrathazhu. I think it’s the best film I have seen and I have seen many films.

I would like to give credit to the authors of varnachitram.com and Ranjit Nair for their in-depth analyses of Manichitrathazhu. For example, I learned about the meaning and purpose of the song “Pazhamthamizh Paattizhayum” from Ranjit Nair’s review. Their analyses encouraged me to view the film again, paying more attention to the details and subtle nuances. Do check out their pieces on Manichitrathazhu, you can access varnachitram’s pieces on Manichitrathazhu here and Ranjit Nair’s review here. I also recommend Nishith’s review which is a great read.

Also read my post Clearing Doubts About Manichitrathazhu.

Wanted versus Pokiri

So, I finally had the chance to watch Wanted yesterday. I know, I know…I’m trying to be a film critic and yet still trying to catch up on ’09 movies… I promise, when I am paid to do this as a profession, I will be up to par on this.

Wanted-1st scene- I was so excited to see Prakash Raj! Prakash Raj is a superb South actor, absolutely fantastic and can do any kind of role. I was wondering how the Bollywood sector had not yet discovered this Southern gem and begged him to do Hindi films. “This is a pleasant surprise” I thought to myself, “I hope he does many many more Hindi films.” The next thought that occurred to me was: “So when is the South version of Wanted coming?” If it was not made in the South first, that is. After all, Ghajini was a Tamil film, Don was remade in Telugu as “Billa.” Genelia D’Souza made Bomarillu three times- originally in Telugu, then Tamil, then Hindi. My God, how many times can you do the same film? Don’t you get bored of memorizing and reading the same lines in different languages over and over… Don’t tell me you agreed to the film because its such a good script. If you make a movie more than once, there can be no other reason but for extra cash…and I don’t quite get that. Anyway…

Then comes the first song of the movie, a fast “real” Indian song and Pappu (I mean Salman) can dance yaar! Looking at the first couple of scenes– crime, dons, fighting and fast tunes– increases the likelihood that this is a remake South film; not to mention Prabhu Deva, a South dance superstar’s appearance in the first song.

When we got to the aerobics class scene, third or fourth scene in the film, it finally hit me! It’s Pokiri!

Pokiri is a superhit Telugu film starring Mahesh Babu and Ileana released in 2006. Dialogues were even the same in Wanted. I couldn’t pay attention to the film after this- I just kept comparing every scene to Pokiri and finally quit watching, moved on to 15 Park Avenue, which I will not get started on… But this is precisely why remakes are not a good idea. I truly and sincerely feel that Pokiri is a better movie, the acting is better, the actors are more suitable for their roles. Mahesh Babu’s style is just different and he is just too good at playing a rogue. Salman seemed like a joke after the original. But do you think that this is an “original-copy phenomenon”? I mean, if I had seen Wanted first and then seen Pokiri, would I have thought that Wanted was better, because, for me it was the “original”? I do not think that this is the case. I saw the Hindi Don first and then I saw Telugu Billa. In this case, I liked the Telugu version better. Apparently, Tamil Pokiri was also made in 2008 with Vijay & Asin…I have not seen that one and if I compare any more movies with each other right now I think your eyes will glaze over.

In conclusion, if you have seen Wanted and not Pokiri, I recommend that you see it. You are going to see the difference! And I am sticking with my argument that originals are [usually] better than the remakes.

I love this song!