In the era of subtitles and dubbed versions, do remakes really need to exist? Let's discuss!

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Aishwarya Srinivasan
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The topic of remakes has been an ongoing debate for a while, so let’s dig deeper into the good, bad, and ugly versions of it and discuss if it needs to be made at all!

In the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in remakes in the world of entertainment. Be it the big screens or OTT platforms, everyone wants to roll the dice with adapting a good story and seeing how it works. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with remaking a commercially successful story with due credit but the true root cause of my worry lies in how it’s being remade. There are good remakes and then there are ones you truly dread watching, the ones where even a minute feels like an hour. And it often makes me wonder if remakes really are a smart idea in a time where people are slowly opening up to watching regional content, reading subtitles or watching the dubbed version of it. If movies and shows released on OTT release their content in India dubbed in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu, including giants like Marvel Studios, then why are we resorting to adaptations now more than ever? Is it actually just playing it safe or just a lack of creativity?

There have been some good examples of remakes. Case in point: The Office, one of my favorite sitcoms. Starring Steve Carell, John Krasinski, and Mindy Kaling. The US remake of The Office was so well made that we often forget that it’s remade from a UK sitcom of the same name. 

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The Office (US)
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The Office (UK)

Also Read: 14 Indian regional movies that are better off without the Bollywood remakes

Another remake that I enjoyed watching was Bhool Bhulaiya. There have been so many remakes of the horror comedy. The first one was Manichitrathazu in Malayalam, Chandramukhi in Tamil, and then the Hindi version of it. All three of them are absolutely remarkable. Each remake added something of its own to the story which made it so interesting to watch and Manjulika is feared everywhere, no matter what the language is.

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Bhool Bhulaiya
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Chandramukhi
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Manichitrathazu

Remakes from the south have been a thing for more than a decade now. Aamir Khan’s Ghajini was one of the first south remakes which was a mega blockbuster and brought attention to stories from the regional content. Everything from the story to the lead actress was the same but still managed to create an impact as the audience wasn’t familiar with the original movie. 

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Aamir Khan's Ghajini
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Suriya's Ghajini

Coming to Aamir Khan’s recent remake, Laal Singh Chaddha, an Indian adaptation of the 6 Academy Award-winning movie, Forrest Gump, starring the legendary Tom Hanks. The movie did not do well at the box office and was said to be the exact replica of the original film. Being a fan of the original film, dialogues like “Life is like a box of chocolates” being remade into “Zindagi na Gol Gappe ki tarah hoti hai” just did not give me the same feeling. 

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Laal Singh Chaddha
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Forrest Gump

Some remakes just leave you confused about their existence to date. Dhadak which was remade from Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat. The original movie felt so raw and authentic. Rinku Rajguru and Akash Thosar’s performance and that climax totally gave me chills down my spine. But Dhadak doesn't do justice to it, especially when Janhvi Kapoor’s hair and wardrobe stay perfectly in place even after she leaves her home to start a new life with her husband and they're barely trying to make ends meet. Where's the attention to detail? Every part of the movie reflected the fact that it’s produced by Dharma and that just takes away a major reason why we loved Sairat.

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Dhadak
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Sairat

It’s bad enough that a movie like Arjun Reddy exists once. Going ahead and remaking it another time? Both Kabir Singh and Arjun Reddy were such controversial films when they came out. Stirring conversations about domestic violence and toxic masculinity. It baffles me how both these movies did so well at the box office but you really cannot say what will work these days and what will not.

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Arjun Reddy
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Kabir Singh

A remake that did work in Shahid Kapoor's favor was Jersey, which was released earlier this year. The movie is an adaptation of a Telugu film of the same name and brought acknowledgment to both Shahid and Mrunal’s performance in the film.

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Shahid Kapoor's Jersey
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Nani's Jersey

Then comes the recent trend of remaking K-dramas. Being a huge K-drama fanatic, this one hurts on a personal level. When we remake a story that blossomed because of the culture it represented of its country and the language itself, it’s never going to pass on the same message here. Be it food, certain Korean slangs, how they talk to their elders or how they dress, the same things just cannot work here because obviously we do not have those things in common. Duranga, a recent remake of the K-drama ‘Flower of Evil’ is a good first attempt at a K-drama adaptation but it doesn't have the same thrill that the show offered.

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Duranga
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Flower of Evil

All being said and done, there are some remakes that are mandatorily made by the production house itself. Before passing away, Walt Disney put a clause in his will that all of the classic Disney movies need to be remade every 10 years. This is why we've been seeing live-action remakes of some absolutely iconic films that we’ve grown up watching like Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Mary Poppins.

The live-action remakes are well made and provide an attention to detail to the smallest of things in the mise-en-scene but being a kid who grew up in the early 2000s, I cannot help but have a soft corner for the original animated films. Having watched all these live-action remakes, I felt that the animated characters were way more expressive than the live-action ones.

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Lion King (Live-Action)
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Lion King (Animated)

I might roll my eyes every time a remake is announced but the same could be a perfect weekend entertainer for someone else or a soup for the soul film that they love watching. I might love movies in their original form as is but there’s a huge section of people in our country who want to watch south movies remade in Hindi, who want to watch K-dramas as an Indian drama just because of the language barrier. Maybe each remake is simply a new story for them, especially those who haven't watched OGs. There are two sides to every argument. I do realize that having access to all the original films, knowing so many languages, and having the time to read subtitles is a very privileged position that I am in.

We need to have more conversations about whether every story needs to be remade. Are dubbed versions really not good enough to pass on the message? What’s that fine line between an adaptation and the exact carbon copy of the original story? Let's discuss in the comments below.

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