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Last Updated 18.08.2019 | 5:03 PM IST
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Reflections: Is Bollywood heading South, turning ‘desi’?

‘Desi’ is in. Now haven’t we heard that way too often right through the year gone by? Ever since Ghajini turned into a huge success, Bollywood has been accused of picking up rights of South films (which pride themselves at being ‘desi’) left, right and centre at a feverish pace. Super success of films like Bodyguard, Ready and Singham further resulted in rights of many other South films being picked soon after their release (or at times even before that). It is being also said that Bollywood is short of original ideas and South seems like the only resort. Also, it is being reaffirmed that going ‘desi’ is the only way out!

But wait, is that really the case?

The way I look at films lined up ahead, that doesn’t necessarily seem to be the case. Yes, of course there are close to a dozen odd ‘desi’ films (either remakes or originals) in the making but then well, these are not the only ones on which industry is pinning it’s hopes on. There are ‘videsi’ influences as well which not just defies the myth around ‘desi’ being the key to success but also conveys loud and clear that there are different genres and setups being explored.

Let’s begin with the remakes first

The most anticipated remake of 2012 is undoubtedly Rowdy Rathore. Being ‘desi’ to the core and showcasing Akshay Kumar in a double role, it gains further momentum with Prabhu Deva being the man at the helm of affairs. In fact this is one film which makes ‘desi’ look beautiful. Another South Indian remake which hasn’t caught much fire yet but boasts of a fantabulous original is Ekk Deewana Tha. One waits to see how Prateik keeps the ‘desi’ flavour intact here.

Neil Nitin Mukesh is seemingly elated with his take on South affairs with Shortcut Romeo. Hopefully he will get it right in a ‘bindaas’ role. On the other hand, Genelia D’Souza is sure to turn on the magic as and when It’s My Life, remake of her own South hit, finally manages to release this year.

Great, so we have 3-4 potential successes in the making here which find their roots in South cinema. However what happens beyond that? Are Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan, Emraan Hashmi or Shahid Kapoor working on any South remakes this year? No. Are Kareena Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan, Deepika Padukone, Asin or Anushka Sharma aiming Southwards for any story inspirations? No.

So what really is the brouhaha about?

Remakes? No. Sequels? Yes.

The remake syndrome has gone down as well and those who are attempting them are also apologetically admitting to have changed the entire setup and milieu while barely keeping the germ same (perhaps in order to save them from legal hassles later in the day). Karan Johar wouldn’t have faced such issues due to Agneepath being an in-house product but still other than the basic plot and character names, everything else has been changed. Rohit Shetty has promised that Bol Bachchan would be totally different from Amol Palekar’s Golmaal while David Dhawan wants a new title for his Chashme Badooor remake.

Sequels are pretty much in vogue though, what with Housefull 2, Kya Super Kool Hain Hum, Jannat 2, Raaz 3, Race 2, Dabangg 2, Krrish 3 and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 2 in the pipeline. Good for them, good for the industry.

Common thing between each of the aforementioned remakes and sequels? None of them have a South influence to them and are basically derived from what Bollywood has offered over the years.

Foreign influences are in though

While accusation of South influence could well be passé soon, what wouldn’t really miss one’s discerning eye is the fact that Hollywood continues to make its presence felt in technique and narrative at least, if not a remake or a direct lift.

This is evident from the fact that Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is one film that claims to bring home a ‘conversational narrative’, something that Kareena Kapoor has never been a part of in her decade long career. Karan Johar too admits that the film’s director Shakun Batra has keenly studied Woody Allen’s style of direction and though Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu isn’t based on any of the films made by the Hollywood director, expect a flash or two of similar narration here.

Talking of rom-coms then well, one waits to see how similar is Jodi Breakers to its French counterpart Heartbreaker (buzz is that the similarity doesn’t just end at the title stage), what with Madhavan and Bipasha Basu seemingly at home in a set up which is distinctly Western.

Kahaani has a ‘desi’ setup to it and thankfully promises an original tale of its own. However, one is definitely reminded of Flightplan which was again about a woman’s search for someone close to her (in that case, her daughter). However, credit to Sujoy Ghosh and Vidya Balan who haven’t allowed the similarity to influence them in any way. That doesn’t seem to be the case though for Tezz which at least from the promo and characterisation perspective does remind one of the Japanese action thriller The Bullet Train.

Nothing ‘desi’ about these films

There are filmmakers though who are admitting to have closely studied their Hollywood counterparts when it comes to narration technique. Shirish Kunder has aspirations to create a world in Joker which was otherwise trademark of Tim Burton films (example: Alice In Wonderland). Saif Ali Khan promises that his suave act in Agent Vinod would bring James Bond closer home. Even otherwise, his Cocktail seems quite intriguing as well (and we are not just referring to the title here) since Homi Adajania has a unique way of telling stories (remember Being Cyrus?) and one can’t expect a ‘desi’ outing from him.

Ditto for Reema Kagti who is expected to tell the story of Aamir Khan’s Talaash in a manner that has been hitherto unseen in a quintessential Bollywood flick. Same holds good for Salman Khan who is all set to leave the likes of Dabanggs and Readys and Bodyguards and Wanteds behind to get into a Bourne avtar for Ek Tha Tiger.

As for Abbas Mastan then well they have showed with Players that they still have an eye for slick visuals that can compete with the West. They are pretty much expected to repeat the feat with Race 2. On the other hand, a lesser known but interesting sounding London, Paris, New York doesn’t give anyone a reason to think if the film would have anything ‘desi’ about it!

Bollywood continues to be a heady mix

Yes, there are out and out ‘desi’ affairs in the pipeline as well. Yash Chopra’s next with Shah Rukh Khan, Housefull 2, Gali Gali Chor Hai, Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya, Chaar Din Ki Chandni, Zila Ghaziabad, Bittoo Boss, Gangs Of Wasseypur, Khiladi 786 and Son Of Sardar are some of the most notable ‘rooted affairs’ that would hit the screens this year. However, there is a balancing act pretty much in play, as conveyed in the text above.

It’s a heady cocktail for Bollywood, what with ‘desi’, ‘videsi’ as well as remakes in the offering, hence defying the myth that Bollywood is putting all its money on one particular winning formula. And that, I strongly believe, is the way to shape a healthy industry so as to give ample choice to the audience.

More Pages: Khiladi 786 Box Office Collection , Khiladi 786 Movie Review

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