The Worst Bollywood Remakes of All Time

Which Bollywood remake is the absolute worst in your opinion? Subhash K Jha weighs in
The Worst Bollywood Remakes of All Time
Posters for films 'Karzzzz', 'Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon' and 'Himmatwala'

Is Bollywood done with remakes? Going by recent films, it would seem so, what with most of the recently acclaimed and/or successful films Queen, Yeh Jawaani Hai Diwani and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag to Ship Of Theseus and B A Pass being absolutely original.

On the other hand a major remake Himmatwala was a box office dud. Anthony d'Souza's Boss, a spunky remake of the super-hit Malayalam film Pokkiri Raja also under-performed.

So which is the worst remake of all times? Is it Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag or Sajid Khan’s Himmatwala or Satish Kaushik’s Karzzz (zzzzzzzz...)? Or how about a hashed rehash of a French film called Giggle, Nautanki Saala? Bollywood loves to descerate paraaya maal. Here’s looking at the 10 worst Bollywood remakes of all times.

1. Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag

Need anything more be said? The indefatigable RGV has himself said it was a mistake to remake Sholay. That was later when the critics fell on him like a ton of bricks. Back then Ramu said confidently, “People don’t know what I’m making, so they’re just reacting nostalgically. Everyone from Jayaji and Dharamji to my other well-wishers have advised me to stay away from Sholay. Dharamji has apparently said he’d jump off that water tank if I messed up Sholay. Why should he jump off? He should push me off that tank if I mess up with Sholay. I’ve made massive preparations. Nothing in my Sholay would be the same as the earlier Sholay. For example there’s no Basanti in my Sholay. If you remove the tonga and ghagra-choli from Basanti she’s just another girl in the plot. A lot of characters in Gabbar’s gang will be fleshed out. Sambha is very different. Likewise the first cop who comes to meet Thakur is far more important in my film. My film has a strong police presence because it’s set in the city. Of course Gabbar has to be a terror. So Mr Bachchan will have elaborate get-up. This is such a larger-than-life story, everyone has to be many sizes larger than life. You’ll feel his viciousness. All these years Mr Bachchan has hidden his evil side so well. I want to bring it out on screen. How can anyone be so correct? No one can be so morally perfect.  People say I’m not capable of re-making Sholay. I’ve one consolation for them. Since the critics have already exhausted all their expletives for Shiva, they’d have nothing left to say about Sholay. I think they’ll pool their money and hire a gangster to get rid of me. If Allah, Jesus Christ and Vaishno Devi come together to plead against my doing Sholay I’m still making it. Aage jo hoga wohdekha jayega.” Well, Ramu we all know what happened. Moral of the story: never tamper with a classic.

2. Mela

Dharmesh Darshan’s brutal and bizarre remake of Nasir Hussain’s bubbly and breezy Caravan with dollops of Sholay. While Aamir and his real-life brother Faizal played Jai and Veeru from Sholay, Twinkle Khanna, in what was supposed to be her makeover movie a la Karisma in Raja Hindustani, played the runaway girl that Asha Parekh played in Caravan. The hotchpotch was indigestible, to say the least. Twinkle has hilarious off-the-record anecdotes to tell about Dharmesh’s neurotic direction. “Tina, aur emotional daalo,” he would scream. Poor Twinkle. She couldn’t get enough “emotion” in. Dharmesh got an emotional voice to dub her lines.

3. Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon

Sooraj Barjatya’s remake of Basu Chatterjee’s Chit Chor took the three simple rustic characters from the original to the Alps and the Niagara Falls and only gawd knows where else. Hrithik and Kareena hammed it up trying to look likea couple in love. Abhishek Bachchan tried to keep a straight face. “What a mess they made of my film,” Basuda sighed. We agree.

4. Main Aisa Hi Hoon

Harry Baweja took on the Sean Penn starrer I Am Sam about an autistic man’s bonding with his daughter. Kya joke maara! The camera shook and shook, probably to express the rage we felt while watching this hideous unauthorized remake. Watch the Tamil maverick Vikram do I Am Sam in Nanna, if you must watch a desi remake. Vikram was as good as Sean. Devgn really shouldn’t go anywhere near remakes: Ramu’s Sholay, Sajid’s Himmatwala and Harry’s I Am Sam complete Devgn’s trio of embarrassments.

5. Karzzzz

Himesh Reshamiyya dared to do what Ranbir said he wouldn’t. Do a remake of Rishi Kapoor’s Karz, while Urmila Matondkar stepped into Simi Garewal’s part of the vixen murderess. This film made us think murderous thought about the theme of reincarnation. Satish Kaushik who directed the disastrous remake says, “No matter how good the remake it can never compare with the original.” We agree. But the Karzzzz remake was an insult to the original.

6. Dayavan

Kamal Haasan still seethes when reminded of this seedy remake of his all-time classic Nayagan. Feroz Khan cast Vinod Khanna as the real-life gangster Vardarajan Mudaliar. Forget about matching up to the mighty Kamal Vinod didn’t even make an effort to get there. Today the film is remembered only for its long torrid smooch between a visibly comfortable Khanna and a distinctly uneasy Madhuri Dixit. Apparently Mani Ratnam was so upset with the remake that he contemplated suing. Eventually he just did what all creative people do. Go on with his work. And let the imitators create havoc.

7. Himmatwala

Ho tacky ho tacky ho tacky tacky re... Sridevi made a valid point when she wondered why anyone would want to remake Himmatwala as it wasn’t Mughal-e-Azam. I am sure everyone saw her point after the remake released. Why remake a bad film, so badly?

8. Victoria No. 203

Anant Mahadevan is one of our most underrated directors. The search for success spurred this sensitive director of such sublime films as Staying Alive and Mee Sindhutai Sapkal to remake one of the zaniest comic capers on the 1950s about a diamond heist. Alas, Anupam Kher and Om Puri just couldn’t match the saucy antics of Ashok Kumar and Pran from the original. And there was no Saira Banu in a towel crooning Thoda se thehro. We hastily exited.

9. Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai

Anubhav Sinha’s remake of  Jay Roach’s Meet The Parents was so bad, we laughed at all the wrong places. If it’s any consolation this Anubhav monster-piece is marginally better than what he did many years later in Ra.One.

10 Aatank Hi Aatank

Everyone from Feroz Khan to Mani Rathnam to Ram Gopal Varma has done Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. But this one directed by Dilip Shankar takes the cake. Aamir Khan’s Brando act in an ill-fitting wig would serve as a telling indication that even God (read: AK) makes mistakes. This one was a blunder.

Javed Akhtar is not opposed to remakes per se. In fact Salim and Javed once remade a 1959 film called Do Ustad in 1974 as Haath Ki Safaai. Explains Javed, “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.”

Ask this brilliant scriptwriter which films he’d like to see remade and Javed Akhtar promptly says, “I’d like to see my Arjun remade. I feel I had made some mistakes in the second-half and somewhere I am aware of those mistakes. If it is remade I’d correct those mistakes. Our film Haath Ki Safaai was based on a 1959 film called Do Ustad which starred Raj Kapoor and Sheikh Mukhtar.Salim Saab and I saw Do Ustad and we sensed the potential in the plot that was lost in translation. Ibrahim Nadiadwala bought the rights of Do Ustad and we remade it as Haath Ki Safaai. And let me tell you Haath Ki Safaai was a hundred times better film although Do Ustad had such a fine actor like Raj Kapoor and we had to make do with Randhir Kapoor.”

Films that should be remade as they have room for improvement

R K Nayyar’s Inteqaam: a powerful revenge story about a wronged woman (Sadhana) who avenges her wrongdoer by marrying his son . The film was a showcase for the actress made by her husband. Great drama. But needs updating.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Jurmana: a Casanova Amitabh Bachchan seduces an innocent woman just to prove that all women are putty in his hands, and then atones for his sins. Hrishida made this one halfheartedly.

Satyen Bose’s Aasra: A man seduces and impregnates the maidservant (Mala Sinha) in the home of his prospective wife.Very timely. Needs fine-tuning

Zarasi Zindagi: K. Balachander’s neglected gem about unemployment came 20 years too early.

Films that definitely should not be remade

K Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam, Shakti Samanta’s Amar Prem, Balu Mahendra’s Sadma, Yash Chopra’s Lamhe, Mahesh Bhatt’s Saaraansh and V Shantaram’s Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje.

Why? Because they are what they are. Period.

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