Today, 14th March, is Aamir Khan’s birthday. I wish him a very Happy Birthday.
I have wanted to write this article from a long time, to be precise after the release of Mann. Eventually, after the release and the super-success of Ghajini I have got down to writing it. There is something with Aamir and movie remakes, he has consistently been a part of movies which are remakes. Its definitely not his fault that he has featured in them, its the writer-director who were looking for a quick and ready-made storylines and of course the producer for easy money. And let me also say that he is not the only star to feature in remakes, as we all know, but the quality of the remakes is what differentiates him from the rest. Why I have analysed him is because, out of the 40 odd movies that he has made, nearly 10 of them have been remakes which is like 25%. Let me go ahead and write down about these movies in a chronological manner of their release wrt Aamir’s filmography.
1. It Happened One Night – 1934 : Clark Gable played the male lead Peter, he even went on to win the Oscar for the Best Actor. It was a
heart-warming movie with a simple storyline. A small time reporter Peter is looking for a big story and he meets a highbrowed lady Ellie
[Claudette Colbert] who has escaped from the clutches of her dad and is on the run to meet her beau. How they both make the journey from
Florida to NY, the small squabbles that they have and how they eventually fall in love with each other is what the movie is about.The
movie went on to win 5 Oscars; apart from Clark Gable, Claudette won the Best Actress, Frank Capra won the Best Director, it was awarded
the Best Movie and Best Writing/Adaptation.
The formula was a sure-shot success, and so in 1956 a movie named ‘Chori Chori’ starring Raj Kapoor and Nargis was released. Raj Kapoor
played the struggling reporter named Sagar while Nargis was Kammo. The highlight of this movie was the songs and especially the puppet-act of
Raj and Nargis. The movie had some brilliant compositions from Shankar-Jaikishan like ‘Panchhi Banoo Udti Phiroon’, ‘Aaja Sanam Madhur Chandni Mei Hum’, ‘Jahan Mai Jaati Hoon Wahin Chale Aate Ho’ and ‘Rasik Balma’. SJ won the Filmfare for Best Music Director.
If you watch Mehmood’s Bombay To Goa, you can see the same theme where Aruna Irani is trying to escape to meet her lover Shatrughan Sinha and is guided all the way by Amitabh Bachchan. But it was dished out in a different way, they changed the screenplay totally and added the comedy angle to it. This occured to me just now, wonder why I did not think of it earlier.
Anyways, the person who did not deviate from the original screenplay was the Robin Bhat-Mahesh Bhat duo. They stayed faithful to IHON and
in 1991 came Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin starring Aamir Khan as Raghu Jaitley and Pooja Bhatt as Pooja. Aamir exuded the same kind of charm
as Clark Gable. In fact, he went a few notches up in the emotional sequences where he could neither stop Pooja from meeting her lover nor
could he tell her that he has fallen for her. Aamir played the role with gusto beginning with the telephone-booth sequence, then the
request-for-lift scene and ending it with the elopement. The entire journey was fantastic, but the magical moment has to be the one where
he starts humming ‘Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke’ with a cigarette between his lips and Pooja in his arms. Only after this does he realise that he
has started liking Pooja. The movie received 4 Filmfare nominations, for Best Actor, Best Director, Best Comedian [Anupam Kher playing
Pooja’s father] and Best Female Singer. Anuradha Paudwal took home the award for the title track, while the rest just remained nominated.
2. Breaking Away – 1979 : This was a really nice movie about a good-for-nothing dude Dave Stoller [Dennis Christopher] who has no aim
or ambition and leads a nonchalant life. His parents keep reminding him about his responsibilities but he just loves spending time with
his friends and riding the bicycle. He has a chance meeting with a beautiful girl Katherine [Robyn Douglass] and to make friends with her he fakes his identity to be a guitar playing Italian exchange student. While he is dating Katherine an entourage of Italian bikers happen to come to his town for a Little500 race. He loves watching them practise and shows his talent with the bicycle. He hopes to get close to them by showing that he can keep up to their pace, but he beats them in a friendly dash; but instead of lauding his effort they just push him into a ditch. That really breaks Dave’s heart and he loses all respect for the Italian cyclists. He decides to take part in the Little500 race wearing the ‘Cutters’ jersey; referring to the lesser privileged people who are not able to complete their education but take pride in hard work. He of course goes on to win the race and create history. The movie won the Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay; but it lost in the 4 other categories Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Music.
In 1992, Mansoor Khan took a lot of inspiration from this movie and made Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. I have used the word ‘inspiration’ because the movie was not a scene-to-scene remake. Lots of new things were introduced, but the plot, storyline and the spirit of the original was kept intact. Mansoor wrote a brilliant screenplay and dialogues by Nasir Hussain were really good, they breathed a life into the Sanjaylal character played by Aamir Khan. They retained the sub-plot of Aamir faking his identity and calling himself a Xavier student so he can go around with Devika[Pooja Bedi] and ultimately she gets to know the truth. The friendship of Sanjaylal and Anjali[Ayesha Jhulka] was handled with maturity and utmost honesty. Mansoor Khan introduced an emotional quotient attaching a prestige to the Annual Cycle Race and added the nostalgia of Sanjaylal’s dad[Kulbhushan Kharbanda] having won the race once upon a time. And the burden of bringing home the cup rested on Ratanlal [Mamik], Sanjay’s elder brother. But when Ratanlal is severely injured from an accident inflicted upon by the Rajput College boys, Sanjaylal takes it upon himself to bring home the coveted honor and take revenge against the Rajput College boys. The movie won the Filmfare for Best Film. Aamir was excellent in the movie, to say the least.
3. Houseboat – 1958 : This movie starred Carry Grant as Tom Winters, who works in the state department of Washington and Sophia Loren as
Cinzia who is the daughter of an Italian conductor. The movie is about Tom whose estranged wife dies in a car crash and he decides to raise the 3 kids, but the kids despise him. In his effort to befriend the kids he takes them to a concert, but the youngest kids get bored and goes out to have some fresh air and play his harmonica. The kid runs into Cinzia who has runaway from home after a small squabble with her dad. Cinzia is able to strike a chord with the kids and since she has nowhere to go, she accepts Tom’s offer of being their housemaid/nanny. After some wandering around and having seen their traveling house [home on wheels] getting destroyed due to a speeding train; they finally move into a houseboat. Tom’s sister-in-law who has a crush on him tries to woo, but slowly and surely Tom finds himself falling for Cinzia. How they get married and how the kids finally accept their dad and new mom is what the rest of the movie is about.
In 1993 a movie titled after a popular Dev Anand song released, the movie was Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke. It was again the combination of Robin Bhat-Mahesh Bhat who systematically copied the movie scene-by-scene. The only thing that they changed was that, the kids were Aamir Khan’s nephews and nieces and not his own. And Aamir becomes the caretaker of the kids after the sad demise of his sister and brother-in-law in a car crash. They also introduced the character Mishraji [Mushtaq Khan] who had returned from Japan after getting trained in assembly-line production; and they made use of this by adding the twist of having to deliver the bulk order of 1 lakh shirts. Apart from this, rest of the movie remained faithful to the original. It was so faithful that the Cinzia character’s Italian dialogues were translated to suit Juhi Chawla’s tamil character Vyjayanthi. The concert, mouth-organ playing kid, taking the kids to visit the museum, Vyjayanthi’s advise of treating the kids with maturity were all the same as in the original. All the kids did a great job, especially Kunal Khemu who went onto become an actor. Aamir was also the Assisstant Director of this movie, in fact this was the phase when Mahesh Bhat was considered to be the most busy director, so busy that he was supposedly giving instructions over the phone; that was the reason for Aamir to step-in as Assisstant Director. This did not stop the movie from winning the Filmfare for Best Actress, Best Film and Best Lyricist[Sameer].
4. Kramer Vs Kramer – 1979 : It was a movie about a marriage gone wrong and a divorce case ending up in a courtroom. Dustin Hoffman as
Ted Kramer, a workaholic from advertising industry marries Joanna Kramer, played by Merly Streep. One day when he returns home after being given a big assignment with a new client, he finds his wife walking away. She wishes to walk-out on him, leaving behind her son Billy. Now, its upto Ted to look after Billy. He does so with some help from Margaret, his neighbour. One day, as they sit around the park while the kid is playing, Billy has a minor accident and is bleeding profusely. Ted makes a mad rush to a hospital amidst the traffic and speeding cars. A year and half later, Joanna returns to seek custody of Billy and this is where a bitter court battle ensues. There is a lot of bad blood and lot of vicious remarks being made about Ted’s carelessness in taking care of the baby. Finally, Joanna being a mom, wins the battle on emotional grounds and Ted is left alone. The movie won 5 Oscars, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay.
Mansoor Khan could not resist this movie as well. In 1995 he remade this movie and titled it ‘Akele Hum Akele Tum’. He just changed the fields of interest, i.e., Aamir Khan as Rohit is a promising singer who sings for a club and awaiting his opportunity to sing in a movie. His love interest Kiran, played by Manisha Koirala, is learning classical music. She is a fan of Rohit and she makes it to one of his New Year shows where they meet and falling in love seems inevitable. Soon after the breezy romance they get married and realise that life is not easy. Kiran is ambitious and she is not willing to sacrifice her singing so she walks out on him, leaving Rohit with his son Sunil, played by Aadil. How Rohit and Sunil manage together and how Kiran comes back into their lives to reclaim Sunil forms rest of the courtroom drama. Aamir gave a very well restrained performance but the same cannot be said of Manisha. The movie had some good songs but was marred by plagiarism where Anu Malik lifted the famous Last Christmas song of George Michael. Also, there was a rubbish spoofing of Nadeem-Shravan duo; Shafi Inamdar and Harish Patel played the crook music directors Amar-Kaushal, who are after Rohit’s composition. I am not sure whose idea it was, TIPS guys or Anu Malik but it was in bad taste. Anyways, the movie bombed at the box-office. Only Aamir and Adil’s performance added some value to the otherwise dull movie.
5. Godfather – 1972 : How does one even start-off talking about a movie like ‘Godfather’. I shall not go into the plot and drama because its totally unnecssary. And I will not be able to say anything that has not already been said.
In 1975 Feroz Khan paid tribute to Godfather with his version named Dharmatma. But he twisted the plot towards the second half, where instead of allying with his father and their forces Feroz plays against them. Feroz Khan repeated the same concept in Jaanbaaz and Yalgaar without much success. In 1992 a movie named Zulm Ki Hukumat was released. The movie starred Dharamendra as Pitamber Kohli and Govinda played Pratap Kohli aka Michael of Godfather. This was one of the first proper remakes of Godfather. The movie fared pretty well and I liked Govinda’s perfromance.
Even after all this, we still had Aamir in line to pay tribute to Godfather. So, he acted his part in Atank Hi Atank which released in 1995. He played the role of Michael, which Al Pacino had played. In fact, it was quite fascinating to see Aamir with a moustache and his wet-hair all combed back, he looked like he meant business. This movie had Rajnikanth playing Sonny, I think the only time that Aamir and Rajni have ever worked together. But none of this could save the movie at the box-office.
to be continued …