That '80s show: Bollywood recapturing the '80s magic

After Khoobsurat, a remake of ’80s telefilm, Janam, has just been announced. Even as a posse of filmmakers set out to remake more films from the ’80s, we take a look at what makes films from this decade an attractive proposition

Last week saw the release of Khoobsurat, an official remake of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Rekha-starrer that was made in 1980. Now there’s word that filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s 1985 autobiographical telefilm, Janam, will soon be remade.

Stage actor Imran Zahid, who incidentally has played the lead role in all play remakes of Bhatt’s films, including Arth and Daddy, will be playing the lead role in this film as well.

“Kumar Gaurav, who was the lead actor in Janam, faded into oblivion, and as a result, the film didn’t get noticed either. Zahid, meanwhile, is on a high after tasting success with Daddy, the play. That said, Janam has a tricky screenplay but Imran has the resolve to hit the bull’s eye,” says Bhatt, who adds that Janam had actually won a lot of appreciation, including a berth in the panorama section of the 1986 International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

The film tells the story of an illegitimate son (Kumar Gaurav) who wants to be acknowledged by his father (Anupam Kher) and goes on to become a filmmaker.

Confirming the news about the remake, Imran Zahid says, “I was probably destined to kickstart my Bollywood journey as a lead actor with Janam. The film deals with the protagonist’s turbulent relationship with his father and draws from the life of my mentor. It’s not just a challenge but my responsibility to recreate that magic.”

It’s not just Khoobsurat and Janam that are getting remade; there are number of ’80s films whose remakes are now being announced. Bhatt says, “Sometimes, we have to go back in order to go forward. I call this recipe, Past Future. Our films have become bigger but they are also emptier. There is a general dumbing down of our narratives. The eighties had some films which were poor in scale but were big in content."

Remakes: a safe bet?
Just a month ago, Karan Johar announced that he will co-produce the remake of Ram Lakhan with Subhash Ghai and that Rohit Shetty will direct the film. Since then speculation is rife about who will play the lead roles in the film; names of actors such as Arjun Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor have been doing the rounds. Ghai, who has two of his 1980s films - Ram Lakhan and Hero — being remade, says, “Any film that entertains will earn good money. Make, remake or steal — today, watching films is more of an event. At that the same time, there’s nothing wrong with a remake since it is a democratic art and we ought to take it as fun."

Film writer Dilip Thakur does not see it as something new. He says, “Mehboob Khan remade Aurat as Mother India which became a superhit. In the ’70s, we saw many Hindi filmmakers get inspired by Hollywood films. Manoranjan, that starred Zeenat Aman and Sanjeev Kumar, took inspiration from Irma la Douce. Khatta Meetha, that was made in 1970, was inspired from Yours Mine and Ours."

Thakur adds that Sulakshana Pandit-starrer Sankoch was a remake of Parineeta and it was based on a novel, while Rajshri Productions’ Nadia Ke Paar was later made into Hum Aapke Hain Kaun.

So is investing in a remake cheaper than paying a writer to come up with a new plot? Trade analyst Amod Mehra says that remakes are in fact the costlier option. There are times when one has to pay crores of rupees just to buy the remake rights.” Like Thakur and Bhatt, Mehra feels theirs is a dearth of good stories and that remakes help. He says, “They are a tried and tested formula; here the audiences is able to relate to such stories and the film boasts of a high recall value. It is invokes nostalgia among older audiences and curiosity among the younger generation, so it works well.”

Script writer Jalees Sherwani says that today, business is of utmost importance to all filmmakers and remakes are a safe bet. “Since the film has worked once already, the producer tends to have more confidence that it will work again. It is not really about a dearth of stories; besides, it is fashionable to helm a remake these days.”

hitlist takes a look at some other ’80s films that will soon be remade...

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983)
Kundan Shah has reportedly penned the remake of this cult film. Shah has apparently written it as a political drama with a dash of comedy.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
A still from the 1983 film, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, that is said to be remade soon. Kundan Shah has reportedly penned the remake of this cult movie.

But there has been no official announcement as yet. It may be pointed out that Jaan Bhi Do Yaaro was re-released in select cinemas in 2013.

Hero (1983)
Subhash Ghai’s musical hit, Hero, is being remade by filmmaker Nikhil Advani. The film stars Aditya Panscholi’s son, Suraj Panscholi, and Suniel Shetty’s daughter, Athiya Shetty.

Hero (1983) is now being remade by Nikhil Advani

In fact, it will be the debut film for both. The film is being co-produced by Salman Khan. The film is set to release on December 14 this year.

Ram Lakhan (1989)
Subhash Ghai’s film had an ensemble cast that included Rakhee, Jackie Shroff, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit and Dimple Kapadia.

Rohit Shetty will remake Subhash Ghai’s hit film, Ram Lakhan (1989)
Rohit Shetty will remake Subhash Ghai’s hit film, Ram Lakhan (1989) 

It is now going to being remade by Rohit Shetty. The casting is yet to take place. The film is being co-produced by Karan Johar and Subhash Ghai.

Satte Pe Satta (1982)
There have been reports about Raj N Sippy’s film being remade with Sanjay Dutt in the lead.

Casting for the remake of Satte Pe Satta (1982) is said to  be in progress
Casting for the remake of Satte Pe Satta (1982) is said to be in progress

The film is being produced by Rajesh Vasani and it will be directed by Soham Shah. Writer duo, Sajid-Farhan, has penned the script. The casting of the film is in progress.

Do Aur Do Paanch (1980)
There have been reports about the film being remade by debutant director, Akshaye Puri, but there has been no official announcement so far.

The remake of Do Aur Do Paanch (1980) will be reportedly helmed by debutant director, Akshaye Puri
The remake of Do Aur Do Paanch (1980) will be reportedly helmed by debutant director, Akshaye Puri

It is also being said that Abhishek Bachchan and Bobby Deol have been approached for the film. The original had Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor in it and it was directed by Rakesh Kumar.

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