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Cult classic ZANJEER being denigrated by today’s so called directors

Visualize a shoddy remake of today’s cult classics LAGAAN or BLACK being remade two decades later by filmmakers of that generation. How would you react? Hurl abuses at the filmmaker or pull your hairs in fury for defaming such offbeat classics! That’s exactly the reaction of the generation who has grown up with the movies of Amitabh Bachchan after watching the promos of Apoorva Lakhia’s remake of ZANJEER!!

From the debutant south sensation Ram Charan Teja to Priyanka Chopra to Sanjay Dutt, who portrays the role of Sher Khan, immortalized by late Pran Sahab, none hold the charisma and the emotions portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri and Pran respectively. Even the songs including the qawwali, Khochey Pathan Ki Zubaan… lack the charm and appeal that the iconic Yaari Hai Iman Mera Yaar Meri Zindagi… qawwali possessed in the original.

In a nutshell it is utterly distressing to watch a cult classic like ZANJEER being denigrated by today’s so called ‘directors.’

However, today filmmakers must note one thing that remaking is not a new trend. In the past many filmmakers have borrowed ideas from old Hindi films but sensibly tailored them with the required ingredients to suit existing trends.

You would be surprised to know that legendary filmmaker Mehboob Khan was among the first to start the trend of remaking way back in the 50s. He remade his very own ’30s black and white hit AURAT, into a colourful extravaganza, MOTHER INDIA, arguably India’s best artistic effort to date which won the honor of being nominated at the prestigious Oscar Awards for the Best Foreign Film category. With MOTHER INDIA, Mehboob Khan improvised his shortcoming and introduced new ideas. Thus the end result was fantastic.

Similarly, Bimal Roy, the other great filmmaker of the 50s remade KL Saigal’s DEVDAS (1935) into his version with Dilip Kumar in the lead in 1955. Bimal Roy, later, even re-made KL Saigal’s 1933 classic YAHUDI KI LADKI as YAHUDI with Dilip Kumar and Sohrab Modi. Both the films did excellent business and were critically acclaimed.

Likewise Yash Chopra’s DEEWAAR was a straight lift from Dilip Kumar’s 60s super hit movie GANGA JAMUNA, depicting the tale of two brothers-one on the side of law and other a dacoit? However Yashji gave a new dimension to the same theme thus making DEEWAAR, one of the best films in Indian Cinema.

Yet another classic of Indian cinema SHOLAY, directed by Ramesh Sippy was excellently re-crafted by borrowing the ideas from Feroz Khan’s KHOTEY SIKKEY and Raj Khosla’s MERA GAON MERA DESH. Both the movies depicted a similar tale of criminals escaping into a village and later helping the villagers to fight back the terrorizing dacoit. SHOLAY had inspiration from Hollywood movies too like SEVEN SAMURAI, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN etc. Nevertheless it was Ramesh Sippy’s intelligence that made the difference.

Thus the conclusion is loud and clear. Attempting a remake is not just selecting an old hit and re-filming it with fresh actors. It is a creative enterprise that requires an imaginative brain. That’s the quality displayed by great directors mentioned above. The innovative approach adopted by them should act as a pointer to today’s filmmakers, who are hell-bent on encashing on the ‘brand’ names of hit classics.

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