Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Remakes - 2

In the previous post on remakes, I looked at remakes from other languages. This one focuses on remakes of old classics. While we are yet to have an official remake of an old Tamil movie, it appears imminent considering the success of such remakes in Hindi and the advantages of going in for such remakes. Not that these kinds of remakes are any easier. Remaking an old film from the same language just leads to a different set of problems than what one would encounter when remaking a film from another language.

The biggest problem ofcourse is the perception that the makers are besmirching a classic. Many old films are viewed very affectionately by moviegoers and they may consider it blasphemy that the film is going to be remade. Considering that most films from previous eras were clean and family-friendly and looking at the content of movies today, fans of old movies will no doubt be alarmed by news of remakes. This will lead to the film getting a negative image even before it is launched. Worse, our Tamil viewers being an emotional(and easily-swayed) bunch may lead to more problems than just bad publicity(case in point - the troubles faced by the Dhanush film just for naming the film Thiruvilaiyaadal).

There is also the question of how to handle the remake. While the new version should have the same basic storyline to identify it as a remake, it should incorporate enough changes so that the film isn't completely predictable and boring to people who have seen the original. This could be a change of setting, minor changes in the screenplay, etc. Again, these changes, however good they may be, run the risk of being criticized simply because they make the movie different. "If it ain't broken, don't fix it!" may be what the moviegoers are thinking.

Once the film is released, there are the inevitable comparisons that will arise. Assuming that only successes will be remade, they will probably have been seen by a large number of viewers. This is essentially what drives the remake since the curiosity factor alone will bring in all these viewers to the new version. At the same time, these viewers have a benchmark for the same film and will constantly compare the new film with that (this is very clear from all those reviews of Don by reviewers for whom the older version is still fresh in their minds). And since they view the old film so fondly, the newer version will almost definitely compare unfavorably and lead to bad word-of-mouth.

Inspite of all these problems, it probably won't be long before this phenomenon hits Tamil films. The guaranteed publicity that the launch of a remake will bring and the aforementioned curiosity factor will make a remake hot property. And as always, if one succeeds, it will open the floodgates to a slew of remakes.

A couple of factors could be used to decide what film to remake. An obvious choice would be a film that was ahead of its times. One film I can think of in that category is Rajapaarvai (though I don't think any of the current actors is capable of the kind of performance Kamal gave in that film). There are also films that have aged. There was recently talk of remaking some of Rajni's old films like Billa. But I think we should look back even further to pick a film to remake. Rajni is still going strong as a hero and most of his past films(atleast the successful ones) are still entertaining and haven't aged. The re-releases in the smaller theaters and the countless reruns on the TV channels have also helped them remain fresh in people's minds. But MGR films have probably been seen by a lot less viewers of the current generation and he has acted in enough police thrillers that would work well if updated with the current technology.

At the same time, I think some films should be left alone. These movies have a special place in our hearts and and their characters are inseparably associated with the actors who played them. Veera Paandiya Katta Bomman, 16 Vayadhinile, Naayagan and Mouna Raagam are a few I can think of right away, that should be left untouched.

So what old movies would you like to see remade? And what movies do you think should be left alone?


At 11:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting topic, BB. You made some nice observations. I agree with you on the point that people would inevitably say, "if it aint broken, dont fix it."

Raja Parvai - puhleezzz! The Kamal-Madhavi romance has to be 'experienced' to be believed. Andha birthday scene onnu porumey.

Yes, masala potboilers are easy to remake. The list is endless but here's my list of what I think would be the more interesting (more importantly, challenging) remakes:

1. Galatta Kalyanam- a zany comedy that could be adapted with some talented comedians and more 'modern' situations.

2. Nool Veli (K. Balachander) - the director of Azhagiye Theeye could handle material like this. Someone please change the ridicuuuulous climax to this otherwise brilliant movie. powerful, controversial, ageless. hell, its K B!

3. Netrikann - am sure SJ Suryah will say, "naan panren naan panren!" but though adult, the movie is still very, very funny. anyone other than SJS who can handle adult material w/o turning it into a sleaze fest.

4. Pagal Nilavu - a good movie that if remade could be made into a very good one if the Director knows what to retain and what to throw out the window (to begin with, Counder's "comedy"). the aggressive youth character will never die in Thamizh Cinema!

5. Dheiva Magan - am sure people who love Sivaji more than I do, will be thinking, "you must be kidding!" but if ppl. can make a soththa script in varalaaru into a big hit, they should make this one a big hit as well...three v a r i e d characters...any takers?!

PS: yes, am way too protective of Kamal haasan's films to recommend any!

At 11:41 PM, Blogger ada-paavi!!!! said...

im surprised u dont want a remake to be remade. mouna raagam is essentially a remake of nenjathai killathae.
and saying tht it shuld be left untouched is surprising.


At 11:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont have a great varied knowledge of very old tamil movies, but let`s see.. most of KB`s movies were ahead of their times, so it would be great to have them remade. But the thing, is in a KB movie, the characters are strong and well-etched, and therefore require strong actors, who can carry it off.

I personally would like to see movies like "Bhuvana oru kelvikuri", "Japanil Kalyanaraman" etc.

With Best Regards,

At 12:17 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

zero, the reverence part is true. but not to the extent that the new movie looks like a xerox copy of the old (like what gus van sant did in 'psycho'). and the reverence somehow has to be shown in the movie. if the director thinks he is 'improving' the film, he will be in trouble.

ram, yeah masala films r pretty much ageless and can be remade. dramas r more bound to their times since their sentiments, emotions, etc. r representative of their generation. updating them would mean changing the underlying story itself, at which point it ceases to be a remake!

adapaavi, i have seen 'nenjathai killadhe' but 'mouna raagam' did not remind me of it. i think they shared the same theme but little more than that. to be called a remake, i think a movie should borrow more from its original. i know thats vague but the line separating 'remake' from 'movie handling same theme' is pretty thin :)

srijith, thats a good point about kb's movies. his movies were out there and sometimes i feel that the tamil audience has actually gone backwards and so i wonder if kb's themes would be acceptable today!

srivatsan, 'murattu kaalai' was vijay's pick too :) but i'm not sure how it would be updated. if they retained the bull-fights it would be too similar but not sure what they could replace them with :)

At 1:53 AM, Blogger Bart said...

Talking of old movies being remade, the recent news is that "Naan Avan illai" is being remade with Gemini's character being played by Jeevan, the thiruttu payal - pun intended :) . Recently (2005?!), "Raktha kaneer" was remade in Kannada and became a huge hit (the story settings and time period were not changed, however). I remember an also-ran movie of Satyaraj in 2004/5 that was a remake of "Missiamma". None noticed.
Random remake picks:
- "Manal Kayiru" (underplaying Visu's part slightly and overplaying the hedonic but tricked, SV sekhar's character).
- "Nizhalgal" with a positive climax and contemporary settings
- "Panneer Pushpangal" crossed with "Classmates" of Malayalam, has a good potential.
In general, I feel any movie can be remade or atleast parts can be lifted. (We've seen such umpteen instances of Nayagan, Mouna raagam, 16 vayadhinile in some other movies) as long as it is relevant. The adaptation to time, settings and audience is very essential for any of the above.

At 6:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to see Vikram being remade, replaced with all the mumbo jumbo of Amjad Khan and Dimple. Also Balu Mahendran classic Mudu Pani.

Most of KB's movie were path breaking during his period currently I dont think they are revolutionary nor relevant.

Balaji I dont understand what you mean Tamil movie goers have gone backwards?? KB movies had original themes but he was also a pervert. Dont know why you need two shots of Sujatha changing her dress in the same song in aval oru thodarkathai. Thats just an example.

At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I don't like this. Espcially if someone remakes BILLA then it will GOD-AWFUL attempt.. Not to forget BILLA itself was a remake :-) of DON. Now they have remade DON in Hindi. Should we have to see a remake of BILLA as well :-) Remake > Remake > Remake > Remake ! OMG ! God save Tamil Film World !

Doing a remake of yesteryear movies will not only make serious comedies, but will also signify the lack of scripts in Tamil.

BTW, I don't think the script in Varalaaru was pretty weak. The script was pretty good. The first 40 mins and last mins Masala turned it into a mixed package.
I know in this space won't agree with me / this statement :-) Iwould say it was much close to Deiva Magan in script ! The narration went down ! And the long making of the film added enough insult to the injury ! :-)

At 7:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thee would be a good choice - good son vs gangster son is always a draw. Besides, when was the last time we had two contemporary young lead actors going off against each other in well-etched antagonist characters - I can only remember Agni Nakshatram as the most recent :-)>
I would love to see Arya vs Bharath in a Thee remake. Arya in Rajini's role sounds awful, though. Or maybe, Ajeeth vs Bharath in Thee. I think Ajith does angst well.Again provided he is not given too many dialogues.

At 7:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would like to see thillu mullu being remade. it has to have a current big actor for its hero, though i doubt any of the young guys would be willing to do a full fledged comedy. and most importantly who would be willing to play kamal's lawyer role? any suggestions ram?

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Srivatsan, are you talking about this?:
Madai Thirandhu

Balaji, you have to see and listen to this video!.. Really something.. Even my dad, who I consider very conservative in his music tastes, liked this one!..

Very cool!

At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

updating them would mean changing the underlying story itself, at which point it ceases to be a remake!

--> BB, but for the examples I mentioned I didnt talk about changing the underlying story...I just said that there were elements that could be stripped away (e.g. Pagal Nilavu) or could be changed (Nool Veli climax). thats all...

- "Nizhalgal" with a positive climax and contemporary settings
- "Panneer Pushpangal" crossed with "Classmates" of Malayalam, has a good potential.

--> bart, Nizhalgall was an awesome pick...yes, it is a meaningful movie (Manivannan's story n dialogues) but yes, the concluding portions seemed to have been plucked out of thin air...too depressing. and, "Paneer Pushpangall" --please, no Kasturiraja!!! "P P" was a beautiful movie...had a degree of emotional insight and treated the problems of adolescence with dignity and empathy.

--> anon, Thillu Mullu I think should be left untouched...i dont know...somehow just cant imagine any tamil actor in Thengai's shoes...he was absolutely brilliant in that movie...

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Bart said...

Yes Ram, we do not want KasturiRaja to screw up P P (or for that matter, any movie). Also we do not want to see P P again remade with new actors (the olden goldie would suffice). Hence we need some twist or update to the theme.. So, I thought a mix with crime would spice up the movie towards the end... (the narration could be a bit faster)...
Yes, the remix mentioned by Srivatsan and Sandya is pretty good. Saw it some days back... Any idea on these guyz's backgrounds?

At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not think comedy movies are good for remakes (in the same language) as the dialogues and situations have to remain the same to retain the comic element.

As already said by BB and Ram, the best genre for remakes would be thrillers and action movies as changes in screenplay and technology would work the best in these. Some movies in my list for remakes would be: Sigappu Rojakkal (no..Manmadhan does not count!), Enakkul oruvan, Vikram, Adhe kangal, Puthiya paravai, Oomai vizhigal..


At 12:28 PM, Blogger மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

Balaji, Most of the MGR's classics can be remade. But the hero should not more punch dialogs like today's culture. That may spoil the core of the film. pasamalar, pathakanikkai kinda sivaji movies are untouchable. Sombody is doing that, I'm sure, they will spoil the original's spirit.

And also, Still I love to see jeyashankar's movie. those movies can be remade at any time..

At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji, I posted a link with a new smiling pick of Jo post marriage and you still haven't made a comment... I'm most surprised!

At 8:48 PM, Blogger Veer said...

The idea of remakes came really from Hollywood. The movies which they remake, utilize the technological revolutions, aka King Kong. If there is none, the movie shouldn't be remade, IMO.

If someone remakes Seven Samurai, I am unlikely to see if. Would I see a remake of classics like Gandhi, E.T. etc.? not a chance.

I would rather watch old Don few times instead of being the least bit interested in the new one.

At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Filmmakers should remake films that were originally mediocre or could be improved. That way they can improve on them. Why bother remaking a film that's already good?

Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves is a good idea, though I have doubts about whether the CG work will be good enough.

At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

babs, i know...which is why i said, "somehow just cant imagine any TAMIL actor in Thengai's shoes..." havent seen gol maal...i know that its spsed to be a classic in hindi..read some stuff abt it when hrishikesh mukherjee passed away...

At 10:42 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

skanda, good pt about leaving rajni and kamal movies alone. none of today's actors have achieved the status of those 2 and so probably can't fit into their roles convincingly...

bart, i remember reading about that too. that seems like a good choice for a remake. quite a universal theme.

anon, considering some of the controversies and the tendency of today's directors to play it safe, i just felt that even themes that were tackled in those days won't be done today...

anon, did see that link... quite a few times :) *sigh* perumoochu dhaan vidamudium...

At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

See my article on sequels.I think;you too have same thoughts on it.

At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ram;is Daiva Magan the film where 2 Shivajis have a scarred face?Well;it's very good film.But no nedd to remake as the film is good to watch even now.If they remke; Kamal can be preferred first and Ajith or Vikram next.

At 12:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Raja Parvai' can be remade with a non-filmy ending like its original. I LOVED the movie, HATED the dramatic ending. Maybe, if people can do a more mature job, they can give it a shot. However, to capture the romance may be tough!

However, they can leave 'Mouna Ragam' and '16 Vayadhinile' alone. :)

At 7:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ganesh, yes, adhey movie thaan...i included that movie in my list coz i watched it recently and found that some portions (esp. the sivaji-jayalalitha romance and nambiar's villainy) could be modified/modernized...just a thot...!

At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yesteryear songs are becoming movie titles, yesteryear movies are being made over...obviously this signals a lack of creativity, imagination and, for the longest time, dedication to the art of movie making.

At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sudhish kamath has written an excellent and insightful piece about the current situation in tamil cinema. http://sudhishkamath.blogspot.com/2006/11/is-tamil-cinema-caught-in-time-warp.html

At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mouna Raagam will be ideal if remade as:-

Karthik - R. Madhavan
Mohan - Surya Sivakumar
Revathi - Asin Thottumkal/Meera Jasmine

At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Balaji,
Great site you have here!
I agree that certain movies, such as Mouna Raagam, cannot and should not be remade, lest their original charm is sullied.

At 11:01 PM, Blogger Nagesh.MVS said...

Oh no,which directors r doing this?

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