2017 Telugu hit Arjun Reddy, which starred Vijay Deverakonda in the titular role, is now being remade into Hindi. There have been reports doing the rounds that Shahid Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, and Arjun Kapoor have been approached to play the protagonist in the Hindi adaptation of the movie. Bad news.
Why? Because there have been quite a few films in the past that have been adapted in Hindi, and these movies and their makers couldn’t care less about retaining the magic and authenticity of the original. In no particular order; OK Jaanu (OK Kanmani), Ekk Deewana Tha (Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa), Ghajini (Ghajini), Bhool Bhulaiyaa (Manichitrathazhu) and Force (Kaakha Kaakha).
Let us just look at one of the most recent ones, OK Jaanu. OK Jaanu starred Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor in the lead, while the original featured Malayalam stars Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menon. Let us begin from the beginning. The problem begins with the name. Kanmani was translated into Jaanu. Why? No one really knows. Kanmani, in Tamil, is ‘beloved’. So, why did the makers/writers use the most silly and abused word for a lover in (colloquial) Hindi in the title of the movie? Your guess is as good as mine. It could have been anything else but Jaanu. Hell, it could have even been OK Jaan, and that would have elevated the film a little. After all, one of the first things you notice about a movie is its title.
The next issue of OK Jaanu is the cast. Why, when you had the likes of Rajkummar Rao, Vineet Kumar Singh, Vicky Kaushal and a host of talented actors to select from, you went ahead and cast the most wooden of faces as your main lead? In the trailer itself, it becomes clear that both Aditya and Shraddha cannot act to save their lives. Shraddha’s pretty-but-devoid-of-any-sellable-emotion face and Aditya’s 24*7 bemused/stoned face throughout the duration of the film was difficult to endure, let alone enjoy. Whereas, in OK Kanmani, both Dulquer and Nithya were convincing as the urban couple fighting hard to balance love and ambition. Their faces spoke of the confusion and grief, even when they didn’t, all of which is a far cry from what Shraddha and Aditya brought to the table in the Hindi remake.
Even Gulzar’s dialogues felt flat, and sounded devoid of its usual beauty. The songs were another damper. Yes, the music was by the Mozart of Madras, AR Rahman, who had lent his hand to compose the music for OK Kanmani. But the lyrics were all wrong, it didn’t go with the tunes, the melody. And the biggest example in case is the title track of the film, “OK Jaanu”. Whoever has heard “Mental Manadhil” of the Dulquer starrer will have a hard time wrapping his/her head around “OK Jaanu”. The lyrics try hard to match the pace, the beat of the music, but they don’t make a good pair. Not unlike the lead couple of OK Jaanu.
The direction was off, the main leads were a disaster, and the music did nothing to save the film. OK Jaanu was a cringe fest, and there is no denying that.
But one had expected better things from Shaad Ali, whose 2002 film Saathiya, was a remake of Mani Ratnam’s Alaipayuthey. In fact, Saathiya is one of the few movies that has stood the test of time, both as a remake and as quality cinema. The original starred R Madhavan and Shalini in the lead, while the remake saw Rani Mukerji and Vivek Oberoi as the star-crossed lovers. It is hard to forget Gulzar’s lyrics to “Chupke Se,” and both Rani and Vivek gave laudable performances in the movie. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about OK Jaanu, Ali’s second adaptation of mentor Mani Ratnam’s movie.
While it is not possible to go into the details of each and every remake here, it is safe to say that there were numerous instances of negligence on behalf of the team of artists associated with the various projects. Sometimes with the narrative, at other times, with the casting, or with the score. Akshay Kumar is a credible actor, but you just cannot compare his screen presence with the warmth and wit of Malayalam superstar Mohanlal. And the audience who has watched both the movies, is bound to make the comparison. The same can be said about the Ajay Devgn and Tabu starrer Drishyam, a remake of the Mohanlal starrer.
And this is why there are certain reservations that one cannot help but have about remakes of good movies. 2017 hit Arjun Reddy starred Vijay Deverakonda in the titular role, and the young actor knocked it out of the park. Arjun Reddy is about a genius surgeon who has anger management issues. Reddy is violent, depressed, in love, and at times, a complete brute. And all these traits of the flawed character was delivered with the crispiness of an ironed cotton shirt on screen by Deverakonda. But will the Dhawans and Kapoors of the Hindi film industry be able to deliver all that and a little more (since it is a remake) to the big screen?