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.

Everything Wrong with Samrat & Co

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At the risk of upsetting the few but very devoted fans of the film and its hero, I have decided to have a fun but equally harsh discussion of this ridiculous film. It doesn’t really make sense to review it as one can offer few praises and many criticisms. And to review it means to give it some level importance, and that surely Samrat & Co does not deserve.

So what is this largely unnoticed film from 2014 about? It would be an insult to the valuable adaptations of Sherlock Holmes stories, to say that it is one of them. Let’s just say that the film is an amateur and sad attempt to join their privileged class.

Before I dive into discussing things wrong with this film, let me start by commenting what was done well. The background score was very nice. From the very first scene of the film, the background music sets the stage and tells us of the mystery, horror and sadness that awaits. The use of cameras and cinematography was also effective.

Sadly, that’s about all I can mention about what is good in the film. The next scenes introduces us to the most irritating Watson character “Chakradhar” that is to be found. He’s supposed to be a murder TV show host but is a clueless irritating man who keeps making cringe-worthy remarks and unnecessary repetitions of “that’s the point!” that has absolutely no contextual purpose in the dialogue. His voice and facial expressions are just as irritating and instead of being a companion to the “Sherlock” character, he is but a fool whose whole purpose in the story is to praise Samrat and his abilities. Maybe except that he refers to Samrat as STD many times. I don’t even have words to describe this cheap and amateur attempt at word play.

And of course, there is the “Sherlock” character itself– Samrat. Again, it’s an insult to compare this character to the detective sleuth of so many adaptations. This is by far the slowest and most ridiculous detective portrayed. I appreciate the writers attempt to portray a mystery classic, but they failed utterly by assuming the audience to be low witted, easily entertained creatures who have no reasoning skills whatsoever, and who are smitten by cheesy and stupid dialogues.

The Samrat character proceeds to show off his skills with series of deductions in several instances. For example, he makes various claims about Dimpy’s character and life at the first meeting and later in the flight, explains them. He claims that the scratch marks on her phone explain the confusion of her relationship. What utter nonsense! In another instance, it takes our so-called bright detective 30 seconds to figure out that a text message is referring to the break, gas and clutch of a car, what took merely a second for the audience to understand. So much for ‘sharp, teekhi, drishti.’

In other scenes, the writers display the character reaching various conclusions without explaining how he reached them or by giving very poor and illogical explanations. For examples, we’re expected to believe that he is able to read a small writing quite far off from him in a dark, dimly lit room, without even moving his head to look in that direction (when he says the line is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet play.)

What was and has always been so impressive and loveable of the Sherlock Holmes stories and adaptations is that there is always a good, realistic and understandable reasoning behind the deductions of the detective. It’s a true skill that is being put to use, and when it is explained to us step by step, we are able to reach the same conclusion. And yet we are amazed at the speed and efficiency in which the detective reached them. That has always been the secret behind the success of these stories. And one cannot expect an adaptation that lacks this to be successful.

As Sherlock Holmes says in the original stories, “crime is common, logic is rare,”… films are common, logic in films, not so much, as Samrat & Co so well displays.

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Let me leave you with a recommendation of another film, a Bengali film from 2013 called “Satyanweshi” portraying the Indian Sherlock Holmes “Byomkesh Bakshi.” Now this film, despite being a bit too slow, is a revelation in that the characters are extremely well displayed and solve an intriguing mystery. What I love in this film is that it stays true to the relationship between Holmes and Watson. Anindya Chatterjee plays one of the most endearing Watsons I have seen, and is an intelligent character that assists Holmes in solving the mystery, just as it should be. I find the brainstorming discussions between the characters in this film very refreshing.