The Student News Site of Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School

The Edison Light

The Student News Site of Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School

The Edison Light

The Student News Site of Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School

The Edison Light

The Remake Fiasco: From Hollywood to Bollywood

As a brown immigrant like many of the individuals in the USA, I grew up watching Bollywood movies in the household and receiving exposure to Hollywood in school.

As I delved further into the world of Hollywood Cinema I realized that Bollywood and Hollywood have many similarities. Moreover, Bollywood is taking “inspiration” from the narratives and genres of Hollywood movies and re-imagining them. Specifically to suit the brown audience’s needs. This can be to make the movies more “Family Friendly,” add exciting music, create cinema in an understandable language, or create characters and personas that people living in the South of Asia can relate to.

The lifestyle differences between America and the emerging market like India are prevalent. Thus relating to Hollywood can be difficult. 

Between 2000 and 2024, Bollywood’s adaptation of Hollywood movies underwent significant evolution. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics notes a global surge in film remakes from 2000 to 2020, with Hollywood being a primary driver.

Deloitte reports highlight significant economic growth in the Indian film industry, fueled by remakes and adaptations. A film remake is a cinematic work derived from a previously made film, characterized by intertextual connections. While retaining core elements like plot outlines and character names, remakes introduce significant changes to differentiate themselves from the original. This extends beyond Hollywood, encompassing cross-cultural adaptations where films are reinterpreted within different cultural traditions.

Bollywood remakes of Hollywood movies often involve significant cultural adaptations, known as “Indianization.” This process includes incorporating emotional depth, expanded narratives, and obligatory song-and-dance sequences characteristic of Bollywood cinema. Tejaswini Ganti in her book “Bollywood ” provides the concept of Indianization; it is the insights into how Bollywood filmmakers infuse specific cultural elements into the narrative to produce an Indian identity vis-à-vis Western influences.

Between 2010 and 2019, the Indian media and entertainment industry grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.75%, reaching a value of ₹1.82 trillion (US$25 billion) in 2019, according to FICCI and EY. This growth was accompanied by a surge in international collaborations, co-productions, and cross-cultural exchanges. Data from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism indicates a significant increase in Hollywood remakes in Bollywood during this period. Through adapting Hollywood movies in Bollywood versions there’s a prevalent increase in revenue and a reason for adaptation. 

When thinking of remakes there are three prominent Bollywood films that were actually remakes of Hollywood movies. 

  1. Mohabbatein (2000) – Inspired by Dead Poets Society (1989)

Dead Poets Society follows an inspirational teacher who encourages students to embrace poetry and free-thinking, set against the backdrop of a conservative boys’ prep school. The Bollywood adaptation, Mohabbatein adapts this narrative to an Indian context, with a musical and romantic twist.

Instead of a conservative boy’s school and developing poetry and becoming free-thinking adults. The Bollywood remake focuses on the love story and personal changes of the school head. Dead Poets Society features Robin Williams as John Keating, whose teaching methods inspire rebellion.

In Mohabbatein, Amitabh Bachchan’s character represents the conservative force, while Shah Rukh Khan’s character embodies the inspirational teacher, adding a personal love story that resonates with Indian audiences. While Dead Poet Society is more of a coming-of-age story with drama. Mohabbatein is a romantic drama, with the development of the children being a side plot. Both movies were great successes and are named “Cult Classics” in their respective industries. 

  1. Aashiqui 2 (2013) – Inspired by A Star is Born (1954)

A Star is Born narrates the rise of a young singer as her mentor’s career declines due to alcoholism. Aashiqui 2 retains the essence of this plot, but is deeply rooted in Indian musical traditions.

The narrative focuses more on emotional turmoil and melodrama, appealing to the Bollywood audience’s love for intense storytelling. The original film portrays a nuanced relationship with subtle emotional exchanges. Aashiqui 2, the characters are more overtly emotional, with added backstories that heighten the drama and tragedy, aligning with Bollywood’s penchant for heightened emotional narratives.

  1. Dil Bechara (2020) – Inspired by The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

The Fault in Our Stars is a romantic drama about two cancer patients who fall in love and navigate their illness together. Dil Bechara closely follows this plot but integrates more culturally specific elements, such as Bollywood-style musical sequences and a greater focus on family relationships.

The Hollywood original features introspective characters dealing with their mortality. In Dil Bechara, the characters are more vibrant and expressive, with their struggles portrayed through a lens of hope and resilience that resonates with Indian cultural values.

Bollywood’s approach to remakes involves the use of music, romance, and greater family values. There is a dynamic interplay between global cinematic trends and local cultural sensibilities. While adaptations can be considered as a negative since there is a lack of creativity. Bollywood adds its unique sort of “spice,” a flavor that completely changes the Hollywood original. Making it unrecognizable, which is why many of the movies presented above were not known remakes.

Bollywood derives basic plot structures from Hollywood movies and completely adapts them to suit the needs of their audience. Truthfully, these movies are unrecognizable when paired with their counterparts. Nonetheless, Bollywood’s ability to represent their audience and put out content that suits its consumer’s needs while also having connections to Hollywood is marvelous. The movies do not get boring, there is always something going on. Unlike their Hollywood counterparts where the storyline/film goes stagnant and grows boring. 

Bollywood is made to entertain!

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