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6 successful Bollywood adaptations of Hollywood classics to watch after Laal Singh Chaddha

Psychological thriller and courtroom drama to family drama and romantic comedy – these movies played up the Indian context

Saikat Chakraborty Calcutta Published 15.08.22, 12:01 PM
Kay Kay Menon in a still from Shaurya.

Kay Kay Menon in a still from Shaurya. Twitter

The box-office fate of Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha looks unclear three days into the film’s release, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science has called this official remake of Tom Hanks’ Academy Award-winning 1994 film Forrest Gump a “faithful” Indian adaptation.

While the jury is still out on the Advait Chandan-directed Laal Singh Chaddha, we are going to rewatch six Hindi films that adapted popular Hollywood films and all except one laughed their way to the box office.


Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) to Chachi 420 (1997)

(L-R) Kamal Haasan and Fatima Sana Shaikh in a still from Chachi 420.

(L-R) Kamal Haasan and Fatima Sana Shaikh in a still from Chachi 420. Twitter

Kamal Haasan’s 1997 film Chachi 420 is a remake of his 1996 Tamil-language comedy Avvai Shanmugi. Both films are based on the plotline of Mrs. Doubtfire where a divorced man, desperate to spend time with his children, disguises himself as an elderly woman and enters his ex-wife’s household as their housekeeper – a role famously played by Robin Williams in the original.

Chachi 420 builds on this premise by adding how religious and caste bigotry continues to undermine relationships in our society. Kamal Haasan manages to bring on the goofy magnetism that Williams showed as Mrs Doubtfire and, along with a brilliant supporting cast, ensured it was a laugh riot. Needless to say, Chachi 420 went on to become a blockbuster hit. The film starred Nassar, Tabu, Amrish Puri, Om Puri, Johnny Walker, Paresh Rawal, and Fatima Sana Shaikh in her acting debut as Kamal Haasan and Tabu’s daughter in the film.

On The Waterfront (1954) to Ghulam (1998)

Aamir Khan and Rani Mukherji featuring on the poster of Ghulam.

Aamir Khan and Rani Mukherji featuring on the poster of Ghulam. Twitter

Vikram Bhatt’s 1998 action film Ghulam with Aamir Khan and Rani Mukherji was adapted from Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront (1954) starring Marlon Brando. In both the films, the protagonist fights against the widespread corruption and violence of the area it is set in, and Bhatt created a world that resembled the dockyard milieu of Kazan’s film. For Ghulam, Aamir crafted a whole new street-slacker persona for this role of an aspiring boxer who lives in a crime-infested neighbourhood but resists being sucked into it.

Ghulam featured a mesmerising soundtrack created by the composer duo Jatin-Lalit, and the chemistry between Aamir and Rani was one of the biggest highlights of this underdog story which was a box-office hit.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) to Sangharsh (1999)

(L-R) Ashutosh Rana and Akshay Kumar in a still from Sangharsh.

(L-R) Ashutosh Rana and Akshay Kumar in a still from Sangharsh. Twitter

Tanuja Chandra’s psychological thriller Sangharsh, starring Preity Zinta, Ashutosh Rana and Akshay Kumar, was loosely based on Jonathan Demme’s Academy Award-winning classic The Silence of The Lambs (1991). In Sangharsh, Preity plays rookie CBI investigator Reet Oberoi who must find a serial child killer (Rana), much like Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling who embarks on a series of mind games with serial killer Hannibal Lecter.

When the killer kidnaps the child of an influential politician, Reet takes the help of a genius academic languishing in jail, played by Akshay, to track him down. Sangharsh stays away from the cannibalism angle of The Silence of the Lambs and replaces it with the concept of human sacrifice as a ritual. Rana, as the psychopathic child killer, steals the show with his menacing eyes and shifty body language. Sangharsh was one of the most successful films of 1999.

Reservoir Dogs (1992) to Kaante (2002)

A still from Kaante.

A still from Kaante. Twitter

Sanjay Gupta’s 2002 action thriller Kaante was heavily inspired by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Quentin Tarantino’s debut feature film Reservoir Dogs (1992). Set in Los Angeles, Kaante follows six Indian criminals who plan an elaborate bank robbery. But things go horribly wrong, which sparks off a chain of suspicion, betrayal and violence among the men.

It featured an ensemble cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Kumar Gaurav, Suniel Shetty, Lucky Ali, Mahesh Manjrekar, Namrata Singh Gujral, Rati Agnihotri, Rohit Roy, Isha Koppikar and Malaika Arora. In an interview with DP-30, Tarantino credited Kaante as his favourite adaptation of his work. Though Kaante refrains from the bloodbath and grit of Reservoir Dogs and resorts to melodrama in the end, Gupta’s adaptation stands tall on its own.

When Harry Met Sally (1989) to Hum Tum (2004)

(L-R) Rani Mukherji and Saif Ali Khan in a still from Hum Tum.

(L-R) Rani Mukherji and Saif Ali Khan in a still from Hum Tum. Twitter

Kunal Kohli’s Hum Tum (2004) reminded us heavily of Rob Reiner’s classic 1989 romcom When Harry Met Sally, starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. Both films followed the several chance encounters of the two protagonists in different places and under different circumstances. As they keep bumping into each other through the years, the relationship between Karan and Rhea (played by Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukherji) starts taking shape in Hum Tum, as it did with Harry and Sally. Both pairs go from being acquaintances to casual friends to best friends and, finally, lovers.

Supported by strong performances from Rishi Kapoor, Kirron Kher, Rati Agnihotri, Jimmy Sheirgill, Isha Koppikar and Abhishek Bachchan, Hum Tum became one of Bollywood’s biggest box office successes of the year.

A Few Good Men (1992) to Shaurya (2008)

Rahul Bose in a still from Shaurya.

Rahul Bose in a still from Shaurya. Twitter

Shaurya, the 2008 military courtroom drama directed by Samar Khan, was inspired by Rob Reiner’s 1992 film A Few Good Men, which itself was an adaptation of Aaron Sorkin’s stage play of the same name. Set amid the chaos of insurgency in Kashmir, Shaurya linked the source material to the Indian context by including the religious polarisation of the country.

Deepak Dobriyal’s vulnerability, Rahul Bose’s understated elegance and Kay Kay Menon’s explosive performance were a close match to the breathtaking performances by Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore and Kevin Bacon in A Few Good Men. Also starring Minissha Lamba, Javed Jaffrey, Pavan Malhotra and Pankaj Tripathi, Shaurya was not a box-office success but has since become a cult classic.

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