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Turning Videshi Into Desi

Adapting from a book seems to be passé, the latest trend is to adapt from a foreign film instead

What’s common between Priceless, Warriors, Alone, Knight And Day, My Girlfriend Is An Agent and The Fault In Our Stars? Besides being popular foreign films, these titles have been snapped up by leading film studios in the country to be remade in Hindi.

And some big names in filmdom are showing a keen interest in these films too. For instance, Priceless, a popular French film will be director Tarun Mansukhani’s outing after his last release Dostana. The film will be backed by Dharma Productions and Disney and, reportedly, is likely to feature Sidharth Malhotra and Anushka Sharma.

Warrior is another Dharma-Disney collaboration, and a remake of the Hollywood hit which starred Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte. Stepping into the shoes of the lead trio will be Akshay Kumar, Sidharth Malhotra and Anil Kapoor.

Disney has also bought rights of the Korean romantic action comedy, My Girlfriend Is An Agent and plans to remake it in Hindi.

Director Bhushan Patel too, who had helmed Ragini MMS 2, is remaking a Thai horror film, Alone, featuring Bipasha Basu in the lead. The film is being produced by Kumar Mangat.

The fact that most foreign studios have collaborated with or acquired Indian film studios are also making these remakes possible. Take for instance, Bang Bang, the official remake of Knight And Day, which starred Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, will feature Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif in the desi version. The Hollywood film was produced by 20th Century Fox and now for the Indian version, Fox Star Studios, the Indian arm of the company, has produced it. Earlier this year, Fox had also produced Hansal Mehta’s Citylights, which was a remake of a British-Filipino indie crime drama Metro Manila. And that’s not all. The company has announced their plans to remake the global smash-hit, romantic film, The Fault In Our Stars in Hindi. The makers are currently gearing to adapt the script to suit Bollywood sensibilities.

It might not be a new trend to make Hindi films based on popular foreign movies but official remake is the key word these days. Filmmakers are now treading with caution as some  producers, in the past have burnt their fingers by simply copying films from the West only to have been slapped with a lawsuit by the original content owners. It’s no surprise then that the new breed of producers is playing it safe by acquiring the official rights of these films.

Also, since more and more Indian films are increasing their global footprint by releasing across several screens in many countries, it has become impossible for the producers to hoodwink the audience.

Almost all foreign studios have made a foray into India. This has helped Indian producers get exposed to a larger library of content at their disposal.

The question we are asking industry experts this week is how viable are these films at the Indian box office. Over to them:




Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios

Every once in a while comes a special film that goes on to define the emotions of a generation. The Fault In Our Stars resonates with the emotions of today’s youth and has found appeal across audience demographics. We are hugely excited to be adapting the film for Bollywood and can’t wait to get started!




Ratan Jain, Director Venus Records And Tapes

As filmmakers we are always in need of new ideas. So sometimes we have to look elsewhere for story ideas. While earlier most filmmakers would turn to Hollywood, these days directors also look at World Cinema to remake it into Hindi films. Many a times, certain films from a few countries are quite akin to our Indian culture and those have the potential to be successfully remade into Hindi films. Since a lot of corporate studios have come into the Hindi film industry, it’s easier for them to buy the rights of the foreign films. On most occasions it’s their own film that they choose to remake.

However, keeping the budgets in control is vital. Simply taking over a project and pumping money into it merely because it was a hit in some other country, doesn’t mean it will fetch similar revenues in India.




Kumar Mangat, Producer

There is always buzz generated among the audience when we announce a film which is a remake. The audience tends to go online and find out about the storyline, how well it had done abroad and so on. So there is always anticipation among the audience about it. I got to know of this film Alone, which was a horror film and was a huge box office hit in Thailand. When I watched the film I realised that the film is very Indian in nature. The emotions showcased in it were similar to ours. I wasted no time and bought the remake rights of the film. The good thing about Asian remakes is that the storylines can be adapted very easily by Indian directors because our cultures are similar. As a producer, it is best to purchase the official rights of the film you want to remake. So that no one comes and stalls your release due to copyright issues closer to the release.




Remo D’Souza, Director

It’s better to buy the rights of the film before remaking or adapting it. The West is very well versed with what Bollywood is making these days. But you can’t just pick any random film to remake. The story should have a universal appeal and should suit your budget too. For instance, Knight  And Day has all the masala elements which are apt for a Bollywood film. Warrior is also a film about the emotional journey of two brothers and is a good plot to remake in Hindi.




Raj Nidimoru, Director

Of late, cinematic boundaries are getting blurred. We are consuming a lot of films as well as churning out a lot more movies every year. At the end of the day it’s all about adapting a film to match our sensibilities. For instance, our film Go Goa Gone was the first zombie film to be made in India. While the zombie genre is quite popular in the West, here it was unheard of. So we adapted the film and made it convincing enough for the Indian audience, thanks to which the film not only got accepted by the critics but also raked in monies at the cinema.




Bhushan Patel, Director

Foreign films used to be remade in the past too but those days filmmakers had a special term for it. They would call it ‘inspiration’. These days it is not easy to get away with such terms and so we have to buy the legal rights of the films. Plagiarism is dealt with very strictly abroad and those rules are now being followed in India too.  Despite the fact that Hollywood has applied stringent rules on plagiarism, films from Korea, Japan and China are still markets from where a lot of illegal remake ideas are cropping up.

Ajay Bahl, Director

It is better to make a film which is adapted from somewhere rather than make a bad film altogether. Adapting a foreign film script to suit Indian palates is an art. Only a good writer, who does it well, can ensure good content and only those films make money at the box office. These days we lack good writers in the Hindi film industry and so we have to rely heavily on remakes and adaptations. It’s a tried and tested formula and there is nothing wrong in it.




Vishal Mhadkar, Director

All the Hollywood studios have entered the Indian market and so it has become difficult to copy foreign films. Now if you plagiarise a film directly from the original without buying the legal rights, you are standing at the risk of being sued. There is a dearth of good stories in India and sometimes we have to look elsewhere for inspiration. Besides, Indian writers are paid poorly in the country and despite a film’s success at the box office, writers never get their due. Under such circumstances, writers are bound to not work hard on stories and opt for an easy way out. In the West, writers get royalties for their work, which is unheard of in India.




Sabbir Khan, Director

Hollywood or World Cinema or even regional films for that matter being remade to reach a wider audience can only be a good idea, a progressive one. The world is getting smaller with cultures fusing and such collaborations bring artists and people together.




Anil Sharma, Director

Earlier filmmakers would steal content and pass them off as their films. These days they are buying the official rights for the remake so that they don’t get sued and lose money on settling  court matters. Even in the past remakes have worked wonders at the box office and the trend holds true even today. Since we live in the metros, we are exposed to a lot of foreign films and Hollywood content but in the interiors people have hardly seen such films.




Sajid (of Sajid Farhad), Writer/Director

You can remake any foreign film but you have to put in the right Indian sensibilities and emotions into it. So even as Indian production houses are making announcements regarding officially adapting foreign films, writers have to insert a sense of Indian-ness to the story lines so that the audience accepts the film.




Rajat Arora, Writer

This phenomenon has been in India for quite some time. People have been adapting books and foreign films for a long time now. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. With several foreign corporate studios coming to India, our library of films has proliferated. They encourage writers like me to adapt storylines which are similar to Indian sensibilities. In fact, it is tougher to write a film which is a remake rather than writing an original film. While in the former, you have to stick to the storyline and insert Indian drama and emotions to adapt the film, the latter gives you more freedom to play around with things like setting, characters et al. The audience these days is also quite relentless to remakes because when they come to know that a particular film is a remake, they tend to compare it with the original. Often they make scathing remarks about your film too. If a story is good I don’t see any harm in it transcending boundaries and reaching out to a larger audience. Sometimes, directors prefer making films which they have watched earlier as it helps them direct it better.




Devang Sampat, Chief Strategy Officer, Cinepolis India

We have a huge market for content in India. When a Hollywood film releases in India, the attendance to watch the films at the multiplexes is sometimes as low as 15 per cent. So many of these films go unnoticed. Maybe because of the language of the film, and sometimes because they only release in the metros. Other non-English films, like World Cinema, have an even smaller market so these films when adapted in Hindi fetch great revenues for the producers. And if the content is successful, be it in the regional markets like a South Indian film or world cinema then it’s like a proven content at the box office. So the risk of remaking it in Hindi is much lesser. However how you treat that content to suit Indian sensibilities is very important too.




Shrikant Bhasi, Chairman, Carnival Group

We have witnessed huge number of Hollywood films made into Bollywood in the last two decades. Also some of these films have gained a lot of success at the box office in the past. Remaking of Hollywood films has become very common nowadays and it also gives an opportunity to Indian audience to connect with their cinema. Also many of these Hollywood production houses have forayed into the Indian market and co-producing Bollywood films. People are eager and anticipate for such films at the box office as along with script and other nuances production houses have pooled in big stars to act in such films. We see great potential in these films and also it brings about global integration of cinema across the world.




Harsh Jain, Exhibitor, Sanman Group

Filmmakers have remade foreign films since many years now. Earlier the industry was small so there used to be a lot of filmmakers who would remake foreign films without buying rights and the makers would get away with it. These days Indian films have a huge reach not just in India but overseas too. So it becomes a little tricky to remake these films without acquiring the proper rights. Filmmakers have a preference for adapting foreign films into Hindi because these films are like a safety net. A tried and tested formula if adapted in the right manner will definitely fetch good returns.




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