Friday, June 24, 2011

Remakes - it's a man's world after all....

This blog post has been pending for some time. I've had the idea before but never came around to finish writing it.

Some of my Hmong friends have asked me why do Bollywood remake Hollywood movies and change the main character, which is a female, and let it be a male in Bollywood films?

Good question.
I honestly do not know but the way it seems, the women are mostly in movies for glamour or as a love interest, but with a smaller role than the male. There are have been times when the female have equal roles with the males but most of the time it's very rare to find a female-centric film.

For some reason, I feel that it's this way ONLY in Indian cinema. Seriously. And I'm not talking about "artsy" films either, movies that deal with female suffering.

There are lots of female-centered films in Hollywood (13 Going on 30, Salt, Devil Wears Prada), as well as in Hong Kong (Goddess of Mercy, So Close, Sophie's Revenge) and Korea (Too Beautiful to Lie, 200 Pounds of Beauty, S Diary).

I am happy when I see an Indian film that has a strong female role but most of the time, her screen presense is shared with the male. I ain't trying to discriminate here but I would like to see more female-centered roles in India! 
Why? I love Indian cinema. I fell in love with it when I was a child. Maybe as I have gotten older, I seem to criticize more?

Okay, lemme get to my main purpose of this blog post.

Some of my Hmong friends have pointed out to me when Bollywood remake a Hollywood film, Bollywood seem to take the female Hollywood lead and replace it with a male.

I have prove a point :D
Some slight spoilers ahead!!

Barsaat (2005)
Bobby Deol, Priyanka Chopra, Bipasha Basu
Synopsis taken from IMDB
Arav is an ambitious young Indian whose dream is to design cars. He travels to the United States seeking greener pastures, where he meets the beautiful Anna. Anna instantly goes head over heels for Arav, but Arav remains focused on his career. Over time, he mellows and the two fall in love. Mr. Virwani hires Arav as a Car Designer and soon Arav raises the profile of his organization as well as his very own. Now it is time for Anna and Arav to get married, it is then Arav receives word from Punjab, India, that his father is seriously ill. So he departs for India where he is received by his parents, his brother, Dr. Pranav and his wife; and their son, Chintu. He is also received by Kajal Kapoor - his wife who he married three years earlier. After seeing his wife be begins to recollect old stories about his past with her. Will Arav reunite with Kajal or will he stick to Anna?

Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey
Synopsis taken from IMDB
Melanie Carmichael, an up and rising fashion designer in New York, has gotten almost everything she wished for since she was little. She has a great career and the JFK-like husband of New York City. But when he proposes to her, she doesn't forget about her family back down South. More importantly, her husband back there, who refuses to divorce her ever since she sent divorce papers seven years ago. To set matters straight, she decides to go to the south quick and make him sign the papers. When things don't turn out the way she planned them, she realizes that what she had before in the south was far more perfect than the life she had in New York City.

My Thoughts
Barsaat is a bad remake of Sweet Home Alabama. When my Hmong friends ask me about this movie, they call it the Indian Sweet  Home Alabama with the guy in the lead.
Barsaat kept the concept of the lead who lived a double live and no one knew that the person's hometown is a smaller city/village and does have a spouse. Once figured out what wants in life, re-thinking about old life and maybe go back to it, not everything was what it was meant to be.
It's just Barsaat switched the main role which was Reese Witherspoon, a female, and gave it to a male, Bobby Deol.
I love Bips, yes, I do, she looks stunning, is hot, but her role was so limited. I like Bobby and am in the minority. He just didn't have the acting chops to pull it off. Priyanka did good job but she also was limited.  I just didn't see why the film couldn't be focus on a female juggling two guys? Is it because it's more appropriate for a guy to do that?? Priyanka juggled two guys in Dostana but then again, Dostana didn't even focus on her. It was focus on two guys who had to pretend to be gay in order to be her roommate so the storyline shifted to be a male-centric movie.
Even the song, "Nakhre" is a copy of 50 Cent's "In The Club."
When I first saw Sweet Home Alabama a long time ago, I always wanted Bollywood remake because the ending is so Bollywood :D

Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai (2002)
Uday Chopra, Sanjana, Bipasha Basu
Synopsis taken from IMDB
Sanjay and Anjali are childhood chums. When Sanjay's roommate Ria questions him whether he has fallen for Anjali he vehemently denies . But the truth that he indeed loves her hits him like a ton of bricks when Sanjana calls him to tell that she is getting married to Rohit. Sanjay wants to win Anjali's heart at any cost and sets off on his "noble" cause of stopping the marriage.

My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)
Julia Roberts, Dermont Mulroney, Cameron Diaz
Synopsis taken from IMDB
A woman who, by a promise made years earlier, is supposed to marry her best friend in three weeks, even though she doesn't want to. When she finds out that he's marrying someone else, she becomes jealous and tries to break off the wedding.

My Thoughts
Not a bad remake at all. It had that Yash Raj magic, thankfully. Yes, it had Uday Chopra but come on, the guy isn't THAT bad. It was a breath of fresh air to have "newcomers" in the film. The music is nice. The Hindi title is almost an exact literal translation of My Best Friend's Wedding, just leaving the "best" out.

The main storyline is lifted from My Best Friend's Wedding with two childhood friends - boy and girl - who grow up as adults. One ends up being surprise because of a wedding invite, only to try to sabatoge the wedding and bring a friend to the wedding to be their significant other.
Julia Roberts, a female, had the lead role and had a gay guy friend pretending to be her lover. Uday Chopra, a male, had the lead role but didn't have a gay friend but just a girl friend pretending to be his lover going to his childhood's wedding to separate them.
Both endings are different. Bollywood's is more filmi but I do think Hollywood's is more realistic.

Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega (2000)
Salman Khan, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukherji
Synopsis taken from IMDB
Raj (Salman Khan) is a singer trying to make his way in the cruel big city of Mumbai. He rescues a girl who has fallen in front of a train, and stays with her when she is rushed to a hospital. Pooja Oberoi (Rani Mukerji), the daughter of a wealthy family, survives but falls into a coma. Her family rushes to the hospital and finding Raj there, assumes that he is Pooja's husband, Romi, with whom she had eloped and whom they had never met. Pooja, who is comatose, cannot correct them; Raj, who could prefers not to. As the family gets to know the pretend Romi, Pooja's best friend, Jahnvi (Preity Zinta) soon starts spending a lot of time with him. He falls in love with Jahnvi, who is regarded as a second daughter by Pooja's family. How can he, or can he flirt with his assumed wife's best friend? Then Pooja revives from her coma and complicates matters by falling for Raj. Who does Raj choose - Jahnvi or Pooja?

While You Were Sleeping (1995)
Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher
Synopsis taken from IMDB
Lucy's life consists of constant lonliness that is until she saves Peter's life. Now she is a part of his family, and with a strong heart and fate on her side, others begin to realize what a terrific person she is, especially Jack, Peter's brother. An extraordinarily true-to-life sequence of events begin to take place as Lucy and Jack become closer and learn more about each other and themselves than one would ever expect from such coincidental, yet believable events.

My Thoughts
Definitely enjoyed Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega. The magic of Sallu-Preity-Rani. I love that trio. The music is great.
Even though Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega took the main plot of While You Were Sleeping. It was the screen presense of the lead stars that made me love the film.
Sandra Bullock is one of the best at doing romantic comedy roles. Sandra, a female, had the lead role and juggling between two guys, two brothers actually. Sallu, a male, had the lead role and juggled with Preity and Rani, two "sisters."  Both leads had a sense of belonging when they pretended to be someone they were not. The ending of Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega is just more filmi, lots of comedic timing from silly Sallu.

12B (2001)
Tamil - Shaam, Jyotika, Simran
Synopsis taken from IMDB
Unemployed Shakthi Singh lives a poor lifestyle along with his widowed and ailing mother and a sister. His mother falls ill and gets admitted in hospital. While on his way to an interview with HSBC, Shakthi sees a beautiful girl, gets distracted and misses his bus - route No.12B. As a result he misses the interview, and ends up getting employed as a Garage Mechanic with Madan, his friend. He does meet with the same girl, gets to know her name is Jyotika, who lives a wealthy lifestyle with her mother, Sulo, while her dad is away on business. Both continue meeting not aware that her marriage has been arranged with Pratap. This story also depicts the possibility of Shakthi catching the 12B on time, attending the interview and getting hired, pursuing Jyotika in vain, and ending up in the arms of his co-worker, Priya. Both possibilities end up with Shakthi getting involved in a vehicle accident - and no guarantees that he will survive or wed Jyotika.

Sliding Doors (1998)
Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah, John Lynch
Synopsis taken from IMDB
Paltrow plays Helen, a twenty-something PR executive living with her writer-boyfriend Gerry (John Lynch) in London. One day, she goes into work to find out that she's been fired. Distressed, she goes to catch a Tube train back home and it's at this point that the film takes an unusual twist. First, we see Helen board the train and then a second Helen misses it. The film then continues telling Helen's story from both angles which run simultaneously, showing how much can change after such a simple difference.

My Thoughts
Sliding Doors is one of my favorite Hollywood movie. What I love about it is how different it filmed at that time. Even though Gwyneth Paltrow is not one of my favorite actresses, she definitely is a really good actress. I love how the film showed what would've happened if you take that path.
When I was watching 12B, I didn't even think about it being a remake because I didn't know...but as soon as Shaam missed the bus and then I saw two different paths, I knew it was Sliding Doors. It almost is an exact frame-by-frame remake.
Of course, giving a female, Gwyneth's lead role, to a male, Shaam..and changing up the story just a bit, but a lot of the events that happened were similar like missing public transportation,  car accidents, juggling two different people.
I'm a little biase when I think Sliding Doors is much better. You cannot just duplicate that! Not only that, 12B was more about Shaam chasing Jyothika more than anything. It got a bit annoying. The editing wasn't done very well in 12B, I got confused a lot who was who, the guy who missed the train, or the guy who didn't....

There are definitely more remakes out there but now, I am going to note when a Hollywood movie's lead is a female and it gets replaced by a male in Indian cinema. I have yet seen a Telugu remake of Hollywood with the female lead that has been replaced by a male.


dustdevil liz said...

Great post-- I knew about the While You Were Sleeping Remake, but the other ones are interesting, too.

I wonder if it's because having the female lead requires two male supporting roles, and thevBW heroes are hesitant to costar in films.

The Bolly Hood said...

Great post! I agree with you - not enough decent sole lead roles for females in Bollywood. But that may all change if my two films are produced... (in negotiations...) Let's just say one's a remake of Amelie...

12B, was that a prequel to 13B? Although 13B is a horror film starring Mahadevan of 3 Idiots fame so I'm not sure. Only one way to find out - watch it and review it! (in my own inimitable style of course!)

Nicki said...

Hey Liz - you raise a good point. I never thought about that, it's also cause men in Indian cinema get paid a lot more.

The Bolly Hood - I haven't seen Aisha yet so I cannot comment on that. It makes me curious. I think Sonam's gorgeous but don't thnk she is a good actress. I have to see it for myself. I will check if it's available for streaming on Netflix.

No, 12B is *not* a prequel to 13B. Totally different films :D

The Bolly Hood said...

I said Amelie not Aisha... have you checked out my blog recently?

bollywooddeewana said...

you're so spot on with this post Nicki though i have to say i quite enjoyed Barsaat even though it would have been so much better like how you've described it

Jeyamaran said...

nice post frnd thank u 4 sharing..........
Cine Actress and Actor image Gallery

Mette said...

I kind of hated Sweet Home Alabama, it was so sticky sugary and predictable. But then again, it was charming. But I definitely won't watch Barsaat. HDJPK is a very cute film, though. And Preity did have a "big" role. But you're absolutely right - Bollywood needs more female-centered films and more female directors. However, I do understand the director issue (most girls want to be actresses rather then directors).
Dhobi Ghat is a little female-centered, though, which I like.
I'm sure it'll come, we just have to wait for it. Oh, and blog about it :)