10 Memorable Remakes Into Malayalam From Other Languages
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From time over time Malayalam films have been remade into other languages. From classics such as Avalude Ravukal which were remade as Kamala (Kannada) and Patita (Hindi) and Manichitrathazhu remade as Chandramukhi and Bhool Bhulaiya to the recent Mohanlal-starrer Drishyam Malayalam hits have been often subjected many successful remakes across India. Similar to other film industries Malayalam cinema also has its share of films that are inspired from other languages. Here is a list of 10 Malayalam films spanning across decades that were remakes of hits from other languages:

Cocktail from Butterfly On A Wheel

Apart from earning a sleeper hit status and being one of the predominant films in the list of new wave Malayalam cinema, the film also gave two of its stars to reinvent themselves. Fahadh Faasil made a comeback reincarnating his avatar after his debut stint bombed and actor Jayasurya who was almost being typecast as “Dileep lite” surprised viewers by introducing the performer in him. Released in the year 2010 the plot was a rehashed version of a 2007 Hollywood film Butterfly on a wheel.

John Jaffer Janardhanan from  Amar Akbar Anthony

Every film industry goes through a period called “The Remake Phase.” Hindi Cinema had its phase in the ’80s by remaking Telugu hits that predominantly starred Jitendra. Most of Rajinikanth’s movies during the mid-’80s were remakes of Amitab Bachan’s classics such as Deewar and Lawaaris.Malayalam cinema also underwent a similar phase during the ’70s and early ’80s with films like Naayattu(1980) and Pathamudayam(1985) were remakes of Deewar and Kalicharan

Among this list was John Jaffer Janardhanan directed by I.V.Sasi and written by T.Damodaran which was a scene-by-scene remake of a 1977 classic directed by Manmohan Desai. The roles of Amitabh Bachan, Rishi Kapoor, and Vinod Khanna were Re-enacted by Ratheesh, Ravindran, and Mammootty. Even the peppy track ‘My name is Anthony Gonsalves’ was rehashed as “My name is John Vincent, Singing with your consent“.

Shobhraj from Don

If John Jaffer Janardhan was a film that almost matched the scale of its Hindi Original then Shobaraj was a watered-down version of its Hindi original Don written by Salim-Javed. Riding over the success of Rajavinte Makan which was released during the same year, Shobaraj featured Mohanlal being cast as yet another Don in distress. While the Tamil version Billa catapulted actor Rajinikanth to superstardom, the Malayalam version faltered even after being helmed by legendary director Sasikumar and a cast that included Madhavi, K.P.Ummer, and T.G.Ravi. The film missed out on crucial aspects such as screenplay, music, casting, and the sheer dapperness that made its 1978 original a huge success. 

Ithu Nammude Katha from Nadodigal

If there existed a rule on movies that cannot be remade then Ithu Nammude Katha would fall on the list of movies that breached this code. Directed by debutant Rajesh Kannankara the film was a remake of Samuthirakani’s Nadodigalwhich starred Sasikumar, Vijay Vasanth, Bharani, Ananya, Abhinaya, and Ganja Karuppu. The story is about a group of youngsters who put their lives at risk to help one of their friends elope and later face the aftermath of that incident was no else than a heist film. 

The Malayalam version which starred Asif Ali, Nishan, Amala Paul, Vineeth Kumar, and Ananya( Who was also cast in the original) had ticked all the boxes from the remake checklist but missed out on bringing out the soul that the original had. For the people who haven’t seen the Tamil original, this might end up as a passable watch.

Simhavalan Menon from Golmaal

Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s 1979 classic that starred Amol Palekar, Utpal Dutt and Bindiya Goswami in the leads has been subjected to remakes and rehashes in several languages. Veteran director K.Balachandran remade it in Tamil as Thillu Mullu starring Rajinikanth in 1981 (not to be confused with the 2013 version that starred Mirchi Shiva) and director Rohit Shetty made a rehashed adaptation Bol Bachan in 2012 starring Abhishek Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, and Asin. There were two adaptations in Malayalam, With Ayalvasi Oru Daridravasi helmed by Priyadarshan in 1986 and Simhavalan Menon directed by Viji Thampi in the year 1995. While Ayalvasi Oru Daridravasi borrowed a few scenes from the original, Simhavalan Menon starring Jagadish was a closer adaptation to the Hindi original. 

Happy Husbands from No Entry/ Charlie Chaplin

Though the 2002 Tamil original starring Prabhu and Prabhu Deva was a sleeper hit, its 2005 Hindi Predecessor starring Anil Kapoor, Fardeen Khan, and Bipasha Basu gained more popularity. The Malayalam adaptation came out a little late by 5 years after the release of No Entry and went on to become a hit. Apart from a few minor tweaks to match the nativity factor the plot structure remained mostly faithful to its Bollywood counterpart. The film proved that apt casting choices could yield success to a remake of a well-known film. 

Though most of its humor might not have survived the test of time, the comic timing and histrionics of its supporting cast, specifically the segments involving Suraj Venjaramood as Raj Boss and Indrajith Sukumaran as Rahul Vallyathan manages to induce chuckles. The cast also includes Jayaram, Bhavana, Rima Kallingal, and Jayasurya. Directed by Saji Surendran the story was credited to Sakthi Chidambaram who also directed the Tamil original.

Naayattu from Zanjeer

Not to be mistaken for the recent Joju George, Nimisha Sajayan starrer directed by Martin Prakkat. This 1980 film directed by Sreekumaran Thampi which starred Jayan, Prem Nazir, and Zarina Wahab was a scene-by-scene remake of the 1973 blockbuster that earned Amitabh Bachchan his angry young man title. In this Malayalam adaptation, Jayan portrayed the role of Sub-inspector Vijayan while the role of Sher khan portrayed by Pran in the original was performed by Prem Nazir as Abdullah. The film turned out to be a massive success and also happened to be actor Jayan’s 100th outing. The soundtrack also included the popular song “Kaalame Kaalame Kanakathil” sung by K.J Yesudas.

Mazhavillu from Amrutha Varshini

Cinematographer Dinesh Babu whose camera-wielding credits include hits like Commissioner, Dhruvam, and Chamayam was more prominent as a director in the Kannada film industry. His 1997 Kannada film Amrutha Varshini which starred Suhasini Mani Ratnam, Ramesh, and Sharath Babu took the formulaic love triangle plotline and made it into a complex drama with thriller elements. Apart from becoming a blockbuster, the film’s soundtrack composed by Deva turned out to be a chartbuster. 

The film was remade by Dinesh Babu again in Malayalam with Kunchacko Boban, Vineeth, and Preeti Jhangiani. The Malayalam adaptation did not gain the traction as its Kannada original but songs composed by Mohan Sitara remain one of his best works and songs like Raavin Nilakkayal and Sivadham still manages to make their presence felt in most of the playlists even today. The well-crafted cinematography in both the films was done by Dinesh Babu

Medulla Oblongata from Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom

Director Balaji Tharaneetharan’s directorial debut remains one of Tamil cinema’s gold standards in comedy and also placed its lead Vijay Sethupati in the limelight. The supporting cast included Bagavathi Perumal, Rajkumar whose characters Bucks and Bhaji seemed like the friends whom we have come across in our lives. Based on the true events that occurred in the life of director and cinematographer Prem Kumar, the film is a textbook example of dark comedy done right. The Malayalam remake starred Rahul Madhav, Saiju Kurup, Rakendu, and Arjun Nandakumar and was directed by Suresh Nair. The Malayalam version got the cultural aesthetics right but remained miles behind in the performance section compared to its original.  

Unnam from  Johnny Gaddaar

Sriram Raghavan’s brilliant take on the genre of neo-noir thrillers was one of his all-time best. Apart from the debut of Neel Nithin Mukesh, the powerhouse casting choices included with Dharmendra, Zakir Hussain, Rimi Sen, Vinay Pathak. The film swept into success and rewrote the way thriller movies were to be made thereafter. Renowned director Sibi Malayil made a rather successful adaptation in Malayalam that included a unique star cast like Asif Ali, Sreenivasan, Rima Kallingal, Lal, Nedumudi Venu. Unnam was a middling remake that remained true to its Hindi original but it gives the pleasure of watching well-known Malayalam veteran stars play characters with grey shades.

Special Mentions 

Dost from Kannedhirey Thondrinal, Kudumbapuranam from Samsaram Adhu Minsaram, Chanakya Thanthram from Thegidi, Ivan Maryadaraman from Maryada Ramanna, Thamasha from Ondu Motteya Kathe and Koode from Happy Journey.

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