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In Protest Of Remakes

Do you love Mother India/Mughal-e-Azam/Anand/Amar  Prem/Deewaar…..etc etc etc? Then please  don’t remake them. It amounts to  inappropriate touching. I have never come  across  a remake that has been even remotely  flattering to the original . Except maybe Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas which was not really remake of Bimal Roy’s Devdas  but a  ravishing revisionist  take on Saratchandra Chatterjee’s novel.

But Devdas  is not my concern right now. Wretchedly unflattering remakes have begun to bother me  with renewed  vigour ever since I saw Kaatrin Mozhi, the Tamil remake  of 2017’s game-changing feminist  rom-com Tumhari Sulu.I sat through the  touching sincere but hollow and selfconscious remake with  just one thought in  my head.

Why?

Why do we need another Tumhari Sulu so  soon after the first?  Is   the story’s transposition to  the  South a sign of artistic enterprise  or just a symptom of  the laziness that has  crept  into  a certain kind of genre-specific cinema which cannibalizes extraneous content  pretending to enhance  it in ways that  never happen?

Except for the fact that the cultural reference  is  altered  Katrin Mozhi is no different  from Tumhari Sulu in spirit and flavour. Even the  individual episodes from the  original plot have  been wrenched  out of their context and put there for no  other purpose except to  look  cutely wannabe. Like the  original Katrin Mozho starts  with the  feisty housewife participating  in  an  egg-and-spoon race in her son’s school while her “devoted” husband cheers on.

 Here  I must pause  to  say the husband Balu is played way too eagerly by actor Vidhaarth. While Manav Kaul in  the  original was supportive Vidhaarth is seen toppling over with spousal servility. It almost feels like this  husband is overdoing it to hide an  extra-marital affair  which would come   out in  a sequel, perhaps?

For  now  South Indian Sulu goes through all the motions of the original like  a perfect mime to a rhyme that  never needed an echo. Viji , the Southern Sulu,  is just as  big an over-reacher as  Sulu.And her twin sisters mock her efforts just as viciously. Nope, nothing has  changed. Why should it when  the  fodder provided by  the original serves the purpose as well as it ought to.

Perhaps those who haven’t seen Tumhari Sulu would enjoy Jyothika’s amped-up aunty antics. She  plays  the domesticated busyee like an  exact twin to Vidya Balan.A plumper  more  excitable Sulu who prefers sambar to poha. But my thought at the end of KatronMozhomaar diya jay ke chhod diya jaye bol tere saath kya Sulu kya jaye?

I end with  Javed Akhtar’s words  of wisdom on  remakes:  ““I can understand Basu Chatterjee fuming over the remakes of his films. He or Sai Paranjpye have made classics, so why fool around with them?On the other hand some other films have reason  to be remade.Hota kya hai with time some classics  with the passage of time it could be given a  new interpretation.A filmmaker may have seen a film 30 years ago which he loves and he might feel he could  give that subject a more technologically advanced twist than what was done to it earlier. A writer may feel that he could tweak certain aspects of an old script . No harm in that. But I feel certain classics are sacrosanct and inviolable. You can’t remake Sholay, Mughal-e-Azam or Gone With The Wind Or Ben Hur.No one should dare to tamper with these  classics because this scripts couldn’t be carried any further. But there are other films that can be improved on.Martin Scorcese who is one  of the most respected directors in the world  remade the 1962 classic Cape Fear very successfully. Martin Scorcese got his first Oscar for best director for a remake The Departed.”

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