Bollywood has some amazing filmmakers who have poignantly captured the intensity and range of human emotions on screen, while telling romantic, drama, mystery, comedy, and tragic stories from new and unique perspectives. However, some of these filmmakers have been guilty of plagiarism from Hollywood movies, lifting themes, formats and sometimes exact scenes from the originals. There are several hit films which have been copied or heavily inspired by American films. Here is a list of 10 such modern Bollywood films which were based on the stories and characters seen in hugely successful Hollywood flicks:
Aamir Khan’s impactful tale of short-term memory loss and revenge for his girlfriend’s murder, was copied directly from the Hollywood film Memento (2000), written and directed by Christopher Nolan. This neo-noir psychological thriller starred Guy Pierce as the lead character who suffers from a rare and untreatable form of memory loss (anterograde amnesia) but wants to track down the man who raped and murdered his wife.
Multi-starrer film Salaam-e-Ishq by Nikhil Advani borrowed the theme and format of Richard Curtis' memorable film Love Actually (2003), which was a celebration of love and romance, with several love stories running parallel to each other. Salaam-e-Ishq also copied three of the plots from the original, which featured Alan Rickman, Colin Firth and Martin Freeman, but was unsuccessful at the box office.
Partner, starring Salman Khan and Govinda, was based on Will Smith’s comedy film Hitch (2005), which follows the story of a talented relationship coach who guides men on pursuing a romantic relationship with the women of their dreams.
This was a mediocre attempt by director Anurag Basu to remake the classic Hollywood movie Unfaithful (2002), which was adapted from a French film. The American version starred Diane Lane, Richard Gere and Olivier Martinez. In Murder, Mallika Sherawat, Ashmit Patel and Emraan Hashmi played the lead roles, and the film, which was based on a woman’s extramarital affair, had a cult fan following in India.
5. Life in a Metro
Life in a Metro followed the journey of several characters (Shilpa Shetty, Kon Kona Sen Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Shiny Ahuja, Kangana Ranaut, etc.) as they navigate relationships and find love and betrayal in unexpected places. Again, director Anurag Basu borrowed some concepts from and copied several scenes directly from an old Hollywood movie, The Apartment (1960), which was an Academy Award winner.
6. Munnabhai MBBS
The hilarious Munnabhai MBBS, starring Sanjay Dutt in the title role, is based on the English movie Patch Adams (1998) with Robin Williams, a semi-biographical comedy film based onthe life of Dr Hunter "Patch" Adams and the book, Gesundheit: Good Health is a Laughing Matter. It is the story is of a local goon who gets into medical school with the help of his gang. The Hindi version, directed by Rajkumar Hirani, was very successful and became the first installment of the Munnabhai film series.
7. Chachi 420
Inspired by Mrs Doubtfire (1993), starring Robin Williams, Chachi 420 was directed by Kamal Haasan, who also played the lead role and gave an incredible performance as a man pretending to be a woman in order to stay close to his daughter and estranged wife, played by Tabu.
Directed by Tanuja Chandra, Sangharsh was inspired by Silence of the Lambs (1991), which was directed by Jonathan Demme, and had Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins and Scott Glenn in the main roles. Akshay Kumar played Anthony Hopkins role of a genius professor who is falsely implicated in a criminal case. Meanwhile, Preity Zinta was seen as a CBI officer helping Akshay (and falling in love with him) and Ashutosh Rana appeared as a terrifying serial killer.
9. Hum Tum
Based on the concept of Hollywood classic, When Harry Met Sally (1989), Hum Tum was a romantic comedy directed by Kunal Kohli. Saif Ali Khan played Billy Crystal’s role while Rani Mukherjee appeared in Meg Ryan’s role, and the film showed the two characters, who are apparently polar opposites, becoming friends and falling in love as they keep running into each other, after several years and life-changing events. The Hindi film also incorporated some comic characters and was much appreciated by the audience.
Sarkar was Ram Gopal Varma’s tribute to Francis Ford Coppola’s crime classic, The Godfather (1972), based on Mario Puzo's best-selling novel. Ram Gopal Varma admitted that Sarkar was inspired by this Hollywood mob-drama, which is considered one of the greatest films in the world. With Amitabh Bachchan playing Sarkar (the overlord), the film followed the themes in the original while depicting the streets and culture of Mumbai, and weaving politics into the story. Sarkar was very well received and has had several sequels.
The craft and skill of some of these filmmakers needs to be appreciated, as they are able to adapt these foreign stories to a local setting and make them appealing for a Hindi film audience. It’s also good to see that several Bollywood filmmakers are now moving towards official remakes of Hollywood movies instead of plagiarising concepts and taking full credit for the story. Some of the flicks which have been adapted officially by Bollywood include Hrithik and Katrina starrer Bang Bang (Knight and Day) and Akshay Kumar and Siddharth Malhotra starrer Brothers (Warrior).