Aishwarya Rai steps into Nargis' shoes for Raat Aur Din remake: Why does Bollywood tamper with classics?

Abhishek Srivastava

Jan,13 2018 10:09:14 IST

The latest news that’s surrounding the otherwise low profile Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is that she is all geared to step into Nargis Dutt’s shoes with the remake of Raat Aur Din. The semi thriller had helped fetch Nargis her only National Award in its debut year. This will also be the second time that Aishwarya will step into a role which is still considered iconic and the memory of which is still fresh in the minds of cinegoers; her first attempt with JP Dutta’s Umrao Jaan was a critical and commercial failure.

Bollywood's fascination with trashing its own classics remains incomprehensible. Could it be blamed on the childhood fascination of filmmakers towards certain films? Or is it just a belief that they can better the best? The reasons remain unclear. What is certain, is that the final outcome leaves a lot to be desired.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is reportedly set to step into Nargis Dutt's shoes in a remake of Raat Aur Din

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is reportedly set to step into Nargis Dutt's shoes in a remake of Raat Aur Din

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rekha in their respective versions of Umrao Jaan

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rekha in their respective versions of Umrao Jaan

It all started in 2006, when Ram Gopal Varma made his obsession with Ramesh Sippy’s masterpiece Sholay knownThose were also the days when RGV's very name spelled success, and thus, no one blinked an eye at his announcement of a Sholay remake. What emerged was India's own equivalent of The Room (widely labelled the 'worst film ever made'). RGV extracted over-the-top performances from a cast otherwise considered stellar — Amitabh Bachchan and Ajay Devgn. The fate of the film was also an indication of what was to follow in the future, however, it didn't deter filmmakers from tampering with the classics. They failed to comprehend — or perhaps they were resistant to understanding — that meddling with the classics could have less than creatively excellent consequences.

Also read on Firstpost — Vidya Balan turns down Sadma reboot: Are remakes about reinventing classics, or creative laziness?

The combination of Sajid Khan and Ajay Devgn met a similar fate when they came up with their own version of the Sridevi and Jitendra starrer Himmatwala. Forget the fact that it made barely any money at the box office, it actually gave a tough fight to RGV Ki Aag in displacing it from the pedestal of the best worst film ever made in Bollywood. But this was not the end. Satish Kaushik and Apoorva Lakhia were a few more brave hearts wjo attempted to weather the storm. While Satish Kaushik lampooned himself by signing Himesh Reshammiya for the lead role of Monty in Karz – a role made memorable by Rishi Kapoor, one still can’t fathom how Apoorva Lakhia managed to convince South superstar Ram Charan to reprise Amitabh Bachchan’s angry young man from Zanjeer.

Amitabh Bachchan in RGV ki Aag

Amitabh Bachchan in RGV ki Aag

Ajay Devgn and Tamannaah Bhatia in Himmatwala

Ajay Devgn and Tamannaah Bhatia in Himmatwala

Ram Charan in Zanjeer

Ram Charan in Zanjeer

Himesh Reshammiya in Karzzz

Himesh Reshammiya in Karzzz

It seems David Dhawan remains the only director who has — to an extent — cracked the formula. The director, who for years has successfully been tickling the funny bones of the masses, tasted success with remakes twice. While he could have easily wavered with Sai Paranjape’s Chashme Baddoor, a good grasp over the art of delivering a comedy coupled with his own interpretation saved the day for the filmmaker.  David Dhawan opted for his own Judwaa 2 for an encore, this time even crossing the Rs 100 crore barrier. That David opted to give his interpretations to comedies and not films from any other genre was perhaps one reason for his success.

Shah Rukh Khan too attempted to emulate Amitabh Bachchan's persona in his Don reboot, but the Farhan Akhtar directorial lags far behind the original. A few twists in the plot, however, salvaged the remake. Similarly, a different interpretation coupled with the addition of new characters saved the day for Hrithik Roshan’s Agneepath and Ajay Devgn’s Bol Bachchan. The milieu and the setting were so diverse in both remakes that they seemed unconnected to the originals at certain points.

SRK in Don 2

SRK in Don 2

agneepath

Hrithik Roshan in Agneepath

Still from Judwaa 2

Still from Judwaa 2

The only exception in the domain of in-house remakes remains Gulzar’s Angoor. The repeated airing of the film on various satellite channels is a testimony of its evergreen appeal and acceptance. Think of it, the original film — Do Dooni Chaar starring Kishore Kumar and Asit Sen (which in turn was inspired by Comedy of Errors) — was rejected by audiences when it had hit theatres in 1968.

In this scenario, when Vidya Balan says 'no' to starring in the remake of Sadma, it surely calls for applause. Her refusal was based on Sadma being a timeless film and should not be tinkered with. (Of course, it may also be that Vidya simply did not wish critics to compare her histrionics with those of Sridevi, that too in a role that remains the latter's most powerful one till date.)

For the film industry, the proof of the pudding lies in the eating — and this is a pudding which has been served many a times. The number of misses exceeds the hits. Coming back to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, the Rs 10 crore remuneration that has supposedly been offered by the producers for the remake of Raat Aur Din must surely be a persuasive factor. Bollywood's financal dealings can oft be more difficult to fathom than Boolean algebra. Money does make the world go round.

Updated Date: Jan 13, 2018 10:09 AM