Koena mitra Love Aaj Kal
Source of Kamal’s inspiration
By Behindwoods Visitor Krish King Nishanth
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In an era where people, in an attempt to recreate magic, tend to completely miss the main essence of films they are trying to remake, one man gets the soul right more often than not. His screenwriting career has had several bouts of both legal and illegal plagiarisms but one thing common about everything he remakes is the intelligence factor. He has an uncanny knack of always coming up with smart adaptations of already tried and tested stories. I am talking about none other than the legendary Kamal Haasan.

With his next film being the remake of last year's Bollywood hit ‘A Wednesday’, here is a look back at the various movies Kamal has remade/copied and the various ideas he's intelligently adapted.
  Kamal Haasan

1) Kurudhi Punal / Drohkal - As they say, we should always start from the best. This is one rare remake, where the maker of the original came out in public and acknowledged that the remake was much better than the original. Not just Govind Nihlani but also the association which sends Indian movies to the Oscars was completely awed at the way this film was shot.

2) Vasool Raja MBBS / Munnabhai MBBS - "This movie did not take me anywhere. I did it for friendship's sake" is what Kamal had to say about Vasool raja. I agree. The original was definitely ahead but the remake wasn't a bad one either. It did have its own moments of magic coupled with some very witty humor thanks to the great language that Tamil is.

3) Virumandi / Rashomon, Life of David Gale - Though brilliantly conceived and executed, this film at its release received some criticism from a few quarters which pointed out that the film misses out on its main aim – talking about the journalist interviewing a capital punishment accused. This aspect and only this aspect of the film is actually taken from the Kevin Spacey starrer - Life of David Gale. The screenplay is taken from the Akira Kurosawa classic - Rashomon. This can't even be called a copy because the Rashomon screenplay is so famous that it is now called "The Rashomon Effect", which is ‘employed’ as a screenwriting technique.

4) Anbe Sivam / Trains, planes and automobiles - Well this is not even an inspiration. Anbe Sivam just takes the ‘two people with opposing views traveling together’ concept and beautifully mixes it with its own emphasis on love, God, communism, humor, charity, art and what not...

5) Thenali / What About Bob? - The entire plot is lifted in from the Bill Murray starrer but is credited to Crazy Mohan. A few scenes especially the interview sequence is completely lifted. But here again, Kamal improvises with some spectacular original acting like in the long “ellam siva bayam” dialogue where he makes us laugh first and then makes us weep. Only a few actors can do that through a single dialogue. Kamal is one of them.

6) Avvai Shanmukhi / Mrs Doubtfire-Tootsie - Though the plot is a straight lift from the Robin Williams comedy- Mrs. Doubtfire, the original inspiration for this role is from one of Kamal's favorite actor’s movie - Dustin Hoffman's Tootsie. Kamal delivers an unforgettable performance as the super maami in this complete rib tickler. Crazy is at his best too.

7) Sathi Leelavathi / She Devil - Not exactly a copy or even an inspiration but both films deal with a very common issue. The stress in Sathi Leelavathi however is intelligent humor unlike the completely slapstick She Devil. And the Coimbatore accent from Kamal completely steals the show.

8) Devar Magan / The Godfather - Intelligent script writing at its peak. To take the ‘son rises’ soul of the Godfather and effortlessly insert it into a magnificent rural setting is no mean task and Kamal the writer breezes through it.

Trivia - It was a bet between two friends on who will remake the Godfather first. Mani won the bet, but Kamal made the better remake.

9) Sathya / Arjun - Suresh Krishna's brutal portrayal of the angry young unemployed is actually a scene by scene take from the Sunny Deol starrer. The romance track in Sathya however was much more watchable thanks to some exceptional performances from Kamal and the super elegant Amala.

10) Enakul Oruvan / Karz - The mutual admiration between Kamal and Rishi Kapoor is obvious, both being masters of romance in their own right. Kamal liked Rishi's Karz and decided to star in its Tamil remake yielding some decent results at the box office.

11) Raaja Parvai / Butterflies are free, Graduate - The Hoffman fan in Kamal rises to the fore again, this time dedicating an entire climax to him through his first screenplay- Raaja Parvai. But the rest of the story is taken from this classic called ‘Butterflies are free’ - A neat attempt at remaking.

12) Magalir Mattum / Nine to Five - An unfortunate brutal rip off credit to Kamal's pen. I am not really sure about what was in his mind at this point of time. Though he tried his best to make the movie as Indian as possible.

Some other mild inspirations - Nammavar (To sir, with love), Panchathantiram (Things gone wrong), Nala Damayanti (Don’t remember the movie's name) have mild tinges of inspirations.

Movies remade from Kamal's - Well there are plenty of them, a very high number indeed. Many of Anil Kapoor's works are taken from Kamal movies like Virasat (Devar Magan), Eshwar (Swathi Muthyam) etcetera. An article on this is coming up soon.

So let us hope film makers like Jayam Raja take the cue from Kamal Haasan and make some intelligent adaptations instead of indulging in costume remaking.

Happy filmmaking! Happy remaking!


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