Do you love Mother India/Mughal-e-Azam/Anand/Amar Prem/Deewaar…..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 Katrin Mozhi, the Tamil remake of 2017’s game-changing feminist rom-com Tumhari Sulu. I sat through the touching sincere but hollow and self-conscious remake with just one thought in my head.
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 busy like an exact twin to Vidya Balan.A plumper more excitable Sulu who prefers sambar to poha. But my thought at the end of Katron Mozho: maar 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.”