Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Remakes Galore

Movie remakes and adaptations have been around since ages, although not all attempts have been justified or successful. At times, the original versions are lucky enough to get a mention in the newer adapted versions, but mostly, directors/writers play it safe and prefer to call the originals as “inspirations.”

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Le Dîner de Cons (The Dinner of Cretins), a 1998 French comedy film written and directed by Francis Veber, is one such original that has been remade 5 times to date. The movie itself is a cinematic adaptation of Veber’s play Le Dîner de Cons. It is a classic French comedy that makes your tummy hurt with laughter.
Its remakes have been both hits and misses at the box office. However, none compare to the original movie that won 3 awards at the 1999 César Awards.

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Bheja Fry, the Bollywood adaptation (released in 2007), was a huge success in India, at least amongst the Multiplex audience. Although it is a remake, one cannot be oblivious to the great acting, perfect comic timing and crisp screenplay – all of which combine to create 95 minutes of pure laughter. The writer/director has also done a great job of “Indianizing” the movie and making it believable for the Indian audience.

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The Hollywood 2010 release, Dinner for Schmucks, is another movie “inspired’ by the original French film. The movie got mixed reviews, and was somewhat funny because of Steve Carell’s befitting “idiotic” performance. However, by the end of 114 minutes, instead of being amused, I ended up getting irritated with the movie as well as the characters. Surprisingly, I still prefer the Indian version over the American one, as the idiosyncrasies and quirks of the characters more subtle and relatable.

Le Dîner de Cons has also been adapted in Chinese in the form of a stage show at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre in 2007, starring Canadian freelance performance Dashan as Pierre Brochant.

Encouraged by the success of Bheja Fry up North, the South Indian Film industry too made its own adaptations. 
  • April Fool was the Malayalam adaptation released in 2010.
  • The Kannada remake was titled Mr. Garagasa. It was released in the summer of 2008.

Personally, I like the idea of remaking an original classic in other languages and viewing the same theme from a different cultural perspective. However, one must always give credit to the original, and the remake/adaptation should be true to the spirit of the original film.

I believe that art is not always defined as creating something new. It can also be the interpretation of a pre-existing form. Many times, a fresh set of eyes adds new dimensions – that extra zing – to the original.

Every story can be retold a hundred times – it’s the narration that brings it to life and gives it wings to fly.

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