Film-Companion-96-vijay-Setupati-Trisha

Indian films being remade in other Indian languages is not new. That said, off late it feels like the moment a film does well in another region, Bollywood instantly snaps up its remake rights. It’s almost as if someone else does the hard work and Bollywood reaps the benefits. One of the biggest Bollywood hits of 2019 was Kabir Singh, a remake of Telugu hit Arjun Reddy. Telugu film Jersey starring Nani is being remade with Shahid Kapoor. And Allu Arjun’s massive hit Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo will be next. While many of these will fit seamlessly into the Bollywood universe, there are some films that should just be left alone. Not all stories are adaptable, and not all actors replaceable. We’ve already seen that with a few remakes that did a terrible job of living up to its source material. 

Here are a list of films that we love and we hope remain untouched by Bollywood.

96 (Tamil)

Director: C Premkumar

I am not sure that any other actor can do what Vijay Sethupathi did – make a grown man blush and yearn and love with such commitment without looking corny. He made you believe in a love story that seems impossible. He made the incompleteness of Ram and Janki’s love somehow feel complete so that we understood that it is indeed better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.  Let’s not mess with that! – Anupama Chopra

Mayanadhi (Malayalam) 

Director: Aashiq Abu  

film companion maayanadhi lead image

 

The reason this film-about-love feels like a bulldozer-to-the-heart is because it indulges the ambiguity, with characters and situations that aren’t final. There’s a comfort in flux. If this film marries the Bollywood aesthetic of drummed cinematic moments, moral tales and satisfying conclusions, the charm will be lost. Here, we have a hero who does 100 pushups every morning but feels shy talking about it.  There’s an abusive brother, on whom no revenge is extracted.  What will they do with that story? 

I have a very strong feeling that if the film is made into Hindi, when the hero would ask for Bournvita while everyone asks for black coffee, there will be a comedy track, a boink or something. And what a travesty that would be. He’s not a child. He’s child-like. The difference between the two will be lost in translation. – Prathyush Parasuraman 

Pisaasu (Tamil)

Director: Mysskin

This paranormal drama is nominally about the hero trying to get rid of the ghost that’s taken residence in his house – but the film is really Mysskin’s idea of a love story, which means it’s light years away from your typical love story. This isn’t just about the script and about what happens. It’s about the very strange poetry an idiosyncratic filmmaker can impose on his material – and until Hindi cinema produces such a filmmaker, Pisaasu is best left untouched. – Baradwaj Rangan

Bakita Byaktigato (Bengali)

Director: Pradipta Bhattacharyya 

Bakita Byaktigato, the best Bengali film you didn’t know about, seems safe from a remake because of its relative obscurity. But what if an unimaginative director got his hands on the film’s out-of-the-box central idea — that of an amateur filmmaker shooting a documentary about love, and in the process, stumbling upon a village where every visitor is known to fall in love? The village in question is the director Pradipta Bhattacharyya’s real-life home: Tehatta, in Nadiya, the land of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, where many of the film’s mystical ideas seem to be rooted in. The thought of a remake seems wrong at so many levels. – Sankhayan Ghosh 

Thanneer Mathan Dinangal (Malayalam)

Director: Girish A.D

TMD is that rare Malayalam film one can safely call Priyadarshan-resistant. This teenage love story is hardly about plot or story. It’s more a series of micro-moments that build up to a montage, like a beautiful music video. It’s not about anything, actually. It’s just the makers trying to recreate their memories as scenes only they can see in their heads. Also, it’s impossible to find a word for jaathikathottham in Hindi. – Vishal Menon

Kannathil Muthamittal (Tamil)

Director: Mani Ratnam

The rooted nature of this narrative, about the Sri Lankan Civil War, might protect it from being re-made. But you never know. Tamilians speaking to each other in Hindi might be the flight of imagination. The film is about the journey of the child to meet her real mother, in Sri Lanka. The love of the adopting parents is merely a springboard. Something like Paa. But I worry if it is remade, the gaze might be inverted, from that of the child to that of the parents. – Prathyush Parasuraman

Kumbalangi Nights (Malayalam)

Director: Madhu C Narayanan 

I keep thinking about the performers who may be able to pull this off. Even a Rajkummar Rao or a Jaideep Ahlawat – who are almost always terrific – may be too “actorly” a presence. They may be too “big”. Take Soubin Shahir, on the other hand. He’s a great actor. He also blends in. He’d vanish in a crowd – that combination of ordinary/extraordinary is what makes us weep when his character finally does. We respond to the performance. We also respond to the presence. Apart from the astonishing writing, it’s the faces that make this drama. – Baradwaj Rangan

Angamaly Diaries (Malayalam)

Director: Lijo Jose Pellissery 

I hope they don’t touch Angamaly Diaries. Oh wait, they are already doing that. It’s being remade in Hindi, Telugu and Marathi. In that case, I hope they chance upon this listicle and abandon the idea (because listicles are known for their journalistic power to change the world). You can see what they are going to do with it. They will transpose the material to some small town and expect the rest to magically fall in place. But I am not sure if they will find a place quite as wild as Angamaly, a suburb close to Kochi, where heavily bearded men get into serious fights in bars over a plate of rabbit meat. – Sankhayan Ghosh

Aadu Oru Bheekara Jeeviyanu (Malayalam)

Director: Midhul Manuel Thomas 

This wild comedy might not really be gold in the remake market because it was a colossal flop. It’s also a film that got so much love later on that it got it’s own superhit sequel. This is a film populated with the quirkiest of characters, with one weirder than the other. Don’t believe me? A cop in the film is named Sarbat Shameer and his signature torture technique involves drinking the lemon juice he squeezes using his victim’s forehead and the bonnet of his car. There’s no logic, only magic, and these characters are impossible to replant into another film universe. And if someone even thinks of making Shaji Pappan wear anything but his double-sided mundu, there will be blood. – Vishal Menon

Sarkari Hi. Pra. Shaale, Kasaragodu, Koduge: Ramanna Rai … (Kannada)

Director: Rishab Shetty

This 2018 Kannada film by Rishab Shetty about language supremacy is set in the town of Kasargod, on the Kerala-Karnataka border. It throws the spotlight on how a group of people continue to keep Kannada culture alive in a place that’s in Kerala. About how children lead a protest to ensure they can study in their mother tongue. A film where a child is called Mammootty but fights for Kannada. Add to this, some amazing landscapes of the coastal belt, it’s awe-inducing sunsets, and the trademark musical dialect. If remade, native humour would probably fly through the window, and child-like children would turn into mini-adults. Plus, there’s no Arabian Sea lookalike and no Anant Nag either. Also, could there possibly be an equivalent of a man wearing the headgear of a traditional dancer riding a bike on a busy road? – Subha J Rao

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