Wednesday, December 2, 2009


A look back at the year that is in its last month will leave Tamil cinema followers with mixed feelings. There have been good movies, popular entertainers and script driven cinema that has impressed the classes and masses alike. Even the best actor award came to Tamil Nadu. But, the only regret about good cinema is that they seem few and far in between. But, that is a regular complaint that we keep hearing year after year, it is as if we can never be satisfied with the number of hits, we expect every movie to turn out to be a classic. Well, that is not possible and so let us not once again delve into the frequencies of hits and flops in cinema, those things will continue to happen. But, 2009 has been dotted with remakes. They have come in from all languages, made in big and small budgets and have faced varied fates at the box office.

Unnaipol Oruvan and Kandein Kadhalai came from Hindi, A Wednesday and Jab We Met respectively. Ninaithale Inikkum came from Malayalam Classmates and finally the recently released Palaivana Cholai was taken from the yesteryear hit of the same name in Tamil itself. UPO got a great reception at the box office as much for its theme as for its star value while Kandein Kadhalai’s evergreen theme of youth and romance found its share of takers. Ninaithale Inikkum raised big expectations and generated positive vibrations due to the original’s huge reputation but couldn’t quite translate it to box office success and Palaivana Cholai couldn’t make any mark.

This is not a one of case of remakes abounding in a year. Even last year there were quite a few of them. Yaradee Nee Mohini and Santhosh Subramaniam from Telugu, Kuselan from Malayalam and Aegan (which even though not completely a remake, took its basic plot and much more from Main Hoon Naa).

And going by what we know, next year is going to be even more dense with remakes. Dhanush himself has Kutty and the remake of the Telugu superhit Ready. Jayam Ravi and brother Raja are teaming up once again for a remake; Thillalangadi. While there are talks of Sigappu Rojakkal, Mappilai and Noothukku Nooru being remade, going by a conservative estimate itself would ensure at least 5 remakes in the next year.

Remakes are not unique only to the Tamil film industry. Even Hindi has its share of them, taken from various languages including Tamil. But, there seems to be a dependency on remakes to create hits at the box office. Remakes are considered safe bets for obvious reasons and so find more eager takers within the industry. The interest has only increased because most of the remakes have been able to replicate their success of their originals barring a few exceptions.

The reason to feel a bit uneasy with the number of remakes is that it suggests a lack of good original ideas within an industry. Even if that were to be denied, then there is surely a lack of acceptance of novel ideas even if they are good. An already proven idea from a different language seems to find more takers than a good original idea. The percentage of remakes in the overall number of box office hits are proof of the dependency on remakes to create sure shot box office hits.

Even more important is the fact that almost all the top stars, including the biggest have remakes against their names. While Vijay had Pokkiri in 2007 and Ghilli before that, Ajith had Billa and Aegan in succession. Two out of the last 5 Kamal Haasan movies have been remakes, starting from Vasool Raja MBBS and even Rajini has Kuselan and Vikram did Majaa in 2005.

There is no denying that even remakes require a lot of skill and hard work. There is the need to adapt the script and characters to the local milieu and many more factors need to be changed. And, no one can be against the commercial success that they bring. But, ultimately it is a story that has been once told and it does not take the industry forward in terms of content. With so many remakes already out and many more getting ready, one feels that they are here to stay unless good original ideas begin to be produced on a consistent basis. Let us hope for the day when remakes become a rarity.

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