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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

From Hollywood to Bollywood - of romantic comedies and remakes

I was meditating on my review for Suhana Safar - an adaptation of It Happened One Night - when it struck me that many of my favorite Hindi movies are remakes/adaptations of Hollywood classics. In most cases I found that I loved the Hindi versions as much as, if not better than, the original ones. The gray cells jumped in excitement - why not do a post on remakes and adaptations? So, here goes...
Warning: very long post with spoilers ahead.
1. Come September (1961)
American tycoon Robert Talbot (Rock Hudson) visits his Italian villa once a year in September to meet his fiery Italian girl friend Lisa (Gina Lollobrigida). In his absence, his enterprising butler Maurice (Walter Slezak) has turned the villa into a very profitable hotel. When Talbot suddenly decides to visit Italy in June, Maurice's hotel has a group of girls (Sandra Dee and friends) chaperoned by Margaret (Brenda De Banzie), staying at the hotel. What will Maurice do to avoid discovery? He tells Talbot that the girls are taking shelter at the villa due to lack of hotel rooms in town while the girls are told that Talbot is a lunatic whose family used to own the villa. Enter: a group of boys (Bobby Darin and friends) camping outside the hotel/villa and the stage is set for the comedy to begin. Talbot finds himself playing the heavy-handed guardian to the girls and unable to openly spend time with Lisa. The boys' attempts to outwit him and get to the girls make for hilarious situations. Apart from all the beautiful people and the hilarious comedy, the best part of the movie is Rock Hudson dancing the 60's dance - he is adorably dorky!

Ek Baar Kaho (1980) Come September has inspired several Hindi movies - I remember watching at least one Biswajit-starrer and one Shammi Kapoor-starrer from the 60's (cant recall their names) having a similar story-line. My personal favorite is Ek Baar Kaho. Navin Nischol plays Ravi Varma, the rich businessman whose major-domo - Hanuman Singh (Jagdeep) - runs a hotel in his Darjeeling bungalow. The hotel is playing host to a group of college girls (Kiran Vairale and company) on a botanical excursion with their lecturer Aarti (Shabana Azmi) when Ravi pays an unscheduled visit. The group of boys camping on their doorstep and trying to win over the girls include Dilip Dhawan and his friend (Anil Kapoor in a tiny part).
Though a remake of Come September, this one is heavier on romance and lighter on comedy. Jagdeep's enterprising butler is not very funny. Navin Nischol and Shabana Azmi in the romantic lead are wonderful. Shabana plays the ultra-responsible, serious-minded college lecturer who loosens up on romance with the o-so-good-looking Navin Nischol. The younger couples played by Dilip Dhawan and Kiran Vairale are also cute.
2. It Happened One Night (1934)
This screwball romantic comedy stars Clark Gable as the struggling journalist Peter Warne. On a bus journey he runs into spoilt heiress Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert) who is on the run from her father. She is trying to reach her new husband - dashing aviator King Westley (Jameson Thomas) - while her father is out to get their marriage annulled. Peter agrees to help her reach her husband safely, in return for exclusive rights to the story. The mismatched couple have several comic adventures on the way, and land up falling for each other. The movie garnered several Oscars including best actor and best actress for Gable and Colbert. The movie is also credited with changing male fashions in USA - Clark Gable takes off his shirt in one scene and the public realises that he wears no undershirt. It reportedly brought down undershirt sales in USA! My favorite scene is where Peter (Gable) teaches Ellie (Colbert) how to dunk a donut properly.
This movie was remade several times in Hindi:
Chori Chori (1956) - The first of the remakes, it stars Raj Kapoor and Nargis as the ill-assorted couple. The soundtrack contains some of the most beautiful Hindi songs from 1950's - Aaja sanam madhur chandni, Yeh raat bheegi bheegi, Jahaan main jaati hoon, Panchhi banoo udti phiroon, among others. I havent seen the movie but it should be worth watching for the songs alone, not to mention the legendary chemistry between the lead pair.
Suhana Safar (1970) - The movie that got me started on this post. Sapna (Sharmila Tagore) is running away from her Dad (Om Prakash) to meet the poet of her dreams while her wealthy father means to stop her. On the way she meets Sunil (Shashi Kapoor) a rich farm owner whose jeep she tries to steal. Sunil falls for Sapna and thinking she is in trouble, helps her. He is heartbroken when he realises that she loves another, but nobly goes on helping her. They journey all the way from Bombay to the Himalayas and of course Sapna ends up falling for him. The movie is only inspired by It Happened One Night rather than a remake - an actual remake might have turned out better! What the movie lacks in the story and dialogue department, it makes up in chemistry between the lead pair. Sharmila plays the spoilt brat rather well and is fairly irritating as a result! Shashi is charming as usual and does the heartbroken, noble suitor very well. There are some nice songs too - Chudiyaan bazaar se, Aha aha aa yeh suhana safar and Saari khushiyaan hain.
Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin (1991) - My favorite Mahesh Bhatt movie, this one stars Aamir Khan and Pooja Bhatt in the lead with Anupam Kher playing the dotty father. The story follows the original rather closely - it has every single scene and dialogue from It Happened One Night with a few comic additions. It only differs from the original in having several song-and-dance numbers. Nadeem-Shravan gave some nice music and the songs are quite pleasant - O mere sapnon ke saudagar, Adayen bhi hain, Dil tujhpe aa gaya and Galyat saankaliye sonyachi are some of my favorites. Pooja Bhatt plays the ditzy, spoilt heiress very well. Aamir looks awfuly young and seems to be a kid-playing-at-grown-up but is good nonetheless. Though almost a carbon-copy of the original, it is a fun movie and a great watch.
3. Come live with me (1941)
An illegal immigrant in USA, Johnny (Hedy Lamarr), marries an unsuccessful writer Bill Smith (James Stewart) to avoid being deported. It is a marriage of convenience with Bill being paid for the marriage and eventual divorce. He however, has other ideas. He refuses to sign the divorce papers unless she spends time with him at his country-home. She has no choice but to agree. The two of them depart to Bill's home for a country-idyll where the beautiful Johnny falls for the boyish charm of Bill and things end happily ever after.
Mr. and Mrs. 55 (1955) - Here a lovely Madhubala plays Anita - a rich heiress who can gain control of her fortune only after marriage. Her man-hating aunt (Lalita Pawar) arranges a marriage-of-convenience between Anita and out-of-luck artist Preetam (Guru Dutt). Preetam manages to pry Anita away from her dictatorial aunt and take her to his country home where she of course, falls for him. A surprisingly light-hearted romance from director Guru Dutt, this movie is a delight to watch not just for the lead pair but also for the great music composed by O. P. Nayyar. The movie is studded with gems like - Thandi hawa kaali ghata, Jaane kahan mera jigar gaya ji, Udhar tum haseen ho, Chal diye banda nawaaz, Aeji dil pe hua aisa jadoo, and Ab to ji hone laga kisiki.
4. Sabrina (1954, 1995)
This heartwarming Ugly duckling/Cinderella-story has always been a favorite. Shy and awkward Sabrina is the daughter of the Larrabee's chauffeur and has always loved the charming playboy, David Larrabee. Despairing of ever attracting his notice, she goes off to Paris for two years and returns looking glamorous and chic. The beautiful new Sabrina immediately attracts David who is on the verge of contracting a very suitable engagement. His family get elder brother Linus to deal with Sabrina. Linus lavishes attention on Sabrina who finds herself attracted to his more serious charms. She falls for Linus only to be told that he was merely trying to detach her from his brother! Most of you probably know what the end will be.
This movie was made twice - the 1954 version had Audrey Hepburn playing Sabrina to Humphrey Bogart's Linus and William Holden's David, while the later version had Julia Ormond in lead with Harrison Ford playing Linus and Greg Kinnear playing David. I always find it hard to decide which version I like better. While the 1954 one has the lovely Audrey Hepburn, it is offset by Humphrey Bogart in the lead (never one of my favorites inspite of Casablanca). The newer one is equally good and there is no Bogie to spoil my viewing pleasure!
Yeh Dillagi (1994) - Essentially the same story with some masala twists. Kajol plays Sapna, the shy daughter of the Saigal family's driver. She has always had a crush on Vicky (Saif Ali Khan) - the younger Saigal son who is a playboy and a callous flirt. She goes off to Bombay (the Paris of India?) and returns looking glamorous and stylish. Vicky is completely bowled over, but his family disapproves of his flirtation with their driver's daughter. Elder brother Vijay (Akshay Kumar) is detailed to run an intervention and lands up falling in love with her. Cue for some Bollywood-style family melodrama! A rather nice romance with some great songs - Jab bhi koi ladki dekhoon, Hothon pe bas and Dekho zara dekho - and some outlandish 90's fashions!
5. French Kiss (1995)
A cute romantic comedy starring Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan. Kate (Meg Ryan) is in love with Charlie (Timothy Hutton) and they are about to get married when he flies to Paris for a convention. He falls for another woman there and breaks off with Kate. She is heartbroken but determined to win him back and flies to France. On the flight she meets the charming rogue Luc Teyssier (Kevin Kline) who hides a stolen necklace in her bag. He plans to retrieve the necklace once they are through customs, but her bag gets stolen. The two of them embark on a France-wide search of the stolen bag. In the course of their adventures, Luc helps her win back her fiance but Kate realises that she loves Luc now! A lovely lighthearted romance and one of my favorites. Have to admit that I liked the Hindi version even better!
Pyaar to Hona Hi Tha (1998) - This one stars Kajol and Ajay Devgan in the lead, and the story follows French Kiss pretty closely with a few minor alterations: Shekhar (Ajay Devgan) actually steals the necklace to help his family and takes Sanjana (Kajol) home to them to pry the necklace back from her. Sanjana, an orphan, falls for Shekhar's family and their singing and dancing long before she finds herself falling for him! The romance between the leads received much better treatment in this version. The slow development of Sanjana and Shekhar's relationship and their realisation of how things have changed between them was beautifully and sensitively portrayed. Kajol and Ajay make a great on-screen couple - I like them a lot better than the Shahrukh-Kajol pairing (hope I wont be excommunicated for this piece of blasphemy!). The movie had some nice songs too - Pyaar to hona hi tha, Aashiq hoon main, Aaj hai sagai, were some of them.
These were some of my favorite Hollywood to Bollywood remakes. What are yours?


  1. Ooh! some new fillums to search for, both Bolly and Holly! I did a similar post with my favorites here:

    The Shammi film you mention under Come September is Kashmir Ki Kali, and the house/hotel/insane person thing is mostly just the comic side plot :-) I had no idea there was a Hollywood film on those lines!

  2. This is relly a wonderful post- v well done:)

    I love "Come September" very much, even though it is oh so romantic, usually not a criteria for my faves. I recall the plot was borrowed in Kashmir Ki Kali, but I do have to see "Ek Baar Kaho" for sure now. You make it sound so so good!
    Personally, Mr and Mrs 55 is one of my fav movies forever, while I dont care much for the original v much- prob cos I love Guru Dutt intensely, and think he was fabulous-
    My biases also color my preferring Sabrina over "Yeh Dillagi," - much as I love Kajol, I worship Audrey :)
    Congratulations on a really good post again...:)

  3. @memsaab: Looks like I've reprised some of your thoughts! :-) More comments re your post are there...

    So, the Shammi Kapoor film was Kashmir Ki Kali! I remember the main plot of this film but clearly need to re-watch to refresh my memory of the various plot details! The Biswajit-starrer I mentioned is Mere Sanam (1965).

    @shweta: Thank you. Glad you liked it.

    Come September's plot is certainly romance, but that is just the background for the main action which is plain comedy. Perhaps thats why you liked it? Ek Baar Kaho though, is an out and out romance with touches of comedy.

    With most of these movies, I'm torn when it comes to decide on favorites. Mr and Mrs 55 is great. It isnt often that you see Guru Dutt in a comedy while Madhubala was made for it. Throw in the music and you have an unbeatable combination! However, the original has the gorgeous Hedy Lamarr and its hard for me not to like any movie that has her in it! Same with Audrey Hepburn. The problem with her Sabrina is that I cant imagine anybody, let alone Audrey, falling for Humphrey Bogart! Harrison Ford does the role much better, but then Julia Ormond isnt Audrey Hepburn.

  4. Luckily we don't have to choose between Madhubala and Hedy Lamarr etc.---we can have it all! Mwwwaaaahahahahahahaha!

    God bless DVDs.

  5. Rofl- when i was watching sabrina, thought exactly that- audrey's walking away w/ humphery makes no sense- bet everyone who sees it thinks of that :D

  6. I need to shoot u an email, but dunno where to send it to! pls send me a preferred email ID at, so I may include u on this. thanks.

  7. You're so right memsaab. DVD zindabaad!!!!

    Shweta, sent you the email id.

  8. even nau do gyarah starring dev saab and kalpana kartik was a remake of it happened one night.

  9. It was!!?? I never knew that. Thanks for sharing the info, Anonymous. I need to see Nau Do Gyarah now! :-)

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  11. O ya I remember Aamir whistling Hum hain rahi pyaar ke a lot in the movie and then there was the song at one point, as well. Wonder if Dev wore a cap in Nau Do Gyaarah, and that is why Aamir had one too!

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  13. While the 1954 one has the lovely Audrey Hepburn, it is offset by Humphrey Bogart in the lead (never one of my favorites inspite of Casablanca). The newer one is equally good and there is no Bogie to spoil my viewing pleasure

    Not strictly relevant to Hindi filmss but THAN YOU! So nice to find someone who thinks similarly about this film. I could watch Audrey all day, Bogie not so much. Thanks to for the remake reviews, I'm vcompiling a wishlist for a friend going back next month and this thread has been most helpful.

  14. i don't see how you think Mr and Mrs 55 is a remake of come live with me. come live with me is one of my favorite classic Hollywood movie and 55 is one of my favorite old Indian movie, in 55 madhubala or rather her aunt lalita pawar looks for a suitable man to marry her niece and divorce her when she wants but there is a lot more to the story, in come live with me johnny (lemarr) an illegal immigrant from Austria is looking for a man to marry to get the green card. Same is the case with nau do gyarah, its plot is nowhere close in resemblance to it happened one night. nau do gyarah is a mystery movie and it happened one night is a romantic comedy.
    I also do not get what people have against Bogart, one of the finest actor to play tough guy and I find him very charming specially in Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep and Key Largo. It is Audrey I find unbearable, the reason is she ruined one of my favorite movie Pygmalion in its remake with her over acting, Wendy Hiller was so much better, in fact it was G. B. Shaw himself who chose Ms. Hiller to play the part. (I might be wrong about it though)

  15. maxnqz, great minds think alike! ;-)

    I need to update this list. There are so many remakes/adaptations that turned out more fun than the Hollywood originals.

    meursault, considering how popular Bogie was (still is) the people who do not find him charming are in a small minority! As to Audrey - she was so stylish and part of so many of my favorite films that she can ruin Pygmalion (not my favorite Shaw play) any time she likes, as far as I am concerned. :-)

    Agreed about Nau Do Gyarah - apart from the heiress running away from a marriage, it has nothing else in common with It Happened One Night. But I think Mr and Mrs. 55 is an Indianised version of Come Live With Me. The heroines in both films need to have a marriage of convenience with a divorce at the end, both marry men in desperate financial straits who love them and refuse to divorce them without a fight. The actual details of the plot had to be different simply because a Bollywood heroine can NOT marry one man just to facilitate her affair with another man!


  16. I need to update this list. There are so many remakes/adaptations that turned out more fun than the Hollywood originals.

    Not old, but a very good example of this Malamaal Weekly. I really like but despite having seen it before Malamaal, I still find the Paresh Rawal remake even better. Also, I'm not the biggest Bogie fan, but don't actually dislike him, except in Sabrina, where his style makes Dilip Kumar in M-E-A seem like Johnny Lever on speed.

  17. I saw Ek Baar kaho years ago and it is one of my favourite movies. I have not been able to get a DVD copy of this movie. Did u get it from as it is a Rajsahri movie?

  18. maxnqz, I am glad to see that I am not alone in thinking that Dilip Kumar overdid the scenery-chewing in Mughal-e-Azam! :-)

    What movie is Malaamal Weekly a remake of?

    Filmbuff, I did re-watch Ek Baar Kaho on Rajshri - havent been able to find a DVD of the film anywhere.

  19. sorry bollyviewer somehow the name of the movie disappeared from my post - malamaal is a very close remake of waking ned devine

  20. Thanks for that, maxnqz. I must admit to not liking Malaamal Weekly too much - so maybe Waking Ned Devine will work better for me.

  21. Finally watched Mr & Mrs 55 - the first half is really fun two words i never thought I'd use of a Guru Dutt film. johnny walker is great as always and the music is simply stunning. But the second half of the film contains astonishing dialogue that is repellent in its primitive chauvinism and misogyny - a wife excusing the fact that her husband beats her occasionally?! I was left horrified and disgusted by that whole exchange in which the 'simple country wife' extolled the virtues of having had 3 kids in 4 years and working non-stop while her husband (who beats her sometimes but loves her sometimes too) was away. I was staggered that the man who gave us Pyaasa could be responsible for such neanderthal rubbish. Overall the pluses outweighed the minuses but the 'domestic slavery is every woman's dream of bliss' mantra left a bitter taste.

  22. Nice to "see" you again, Max. Its been a long time!

    I really do need to re-watch Mr. and Mrs. 55 - I only saw it years ago as a kid. Having seen Chaudhvin Ka Chand recently, I am not surprised by Guru Dutt's misogyny/male chauvinism. He has Waheeda declare in a scene that she is her husband's baandi (slave) and its his right to torture/ill-treat her any which way he pleases! Urgh!!!! Of course, the entire film is an exercise in female objectification, but Waheeda's dialogue takes the cake.

  23. This is very strange - another comment that disappeared. I replied yesterday that your comment on CkC proved the truth of the aphorism that ignorance is bliss. When I first bought & watched that movie, I relied ENTIRELY on the dubs. Now that I can *almost* get by without them and can certainly tell when the subs are euphemising, I guess I have to avoid the movie and stick to just watching the title track and Sharma ke kyon sab. Although, in Dutt's defence, if you're going to objectify a woman, one as divinely beautiful as Waheedaji is a good candidate. Plus, she got 'revenge' through her awesome role in the sublime Teesri Kasam

  24. The subs must have been beyond bad for you not to get Chaudhvin Ka Chand's nauseatingly sexist attitudes! Waheeda Rehman is definitely an objectifier's dream-come-true, but couldn't she have had a role of substance, too? She was so wasted in this - and on Guru Dutt too! I think I would have forgiven him all the film's flaws, if only Waheeda had gotten together with Rehman in the end.

  25. A wiser person than I said recently "I must say that I am glad there are some movies I can watch without blushing for my kiddie-self’s taste!" and that's probably true of me. CkC was one of the first oldies I watched, it was my first Waheeda film and my first Johnny Walker film, and they were the elements that stuck in my mind, that and the songs. I haven't rewatched the whole thing in ages, and probably would cringe right through if I did. :)

  26. Oh well... childhood conditioning (and beautiful Waheeda) is a very strong argument in favor of CKC. :-) Do try it now - just to see how it holds up to time. I am not very big on Guru Dutt and what I've seen recently hasn't inclined me to delve any further into his films - so Pyaasa and Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam will just have to stay unwatched by me!

  27. Hi, As the topic goes, there is another movie close to "Come September" theme and it is "Jungle Mein Mangal".
    However if you really want to know about the remakes and inspirations in Bollywood then do visit my arena and chek out the exclusive research done there.


  28. Bobby, I'd never heard of Jungle Mein Mangal - but I'm always willing to try anything that is at all Come September-ish. :D Thanks for that info!

    And I will definitely check out your site, too.

  29. LOVE AFFAIR 1939 remade in AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER remade into Sleepless in Seattle
    all these were timeless classical romances
    its a big shame that AATR was remade into Mann!!!hated Manisha in it

  30. I loved An Affair To Remember. It was also remade as the awful Love Affair (1994) starring Warren Beatty and Annette Bening. I wonder why Hollywood kept recycling this cheesy tale and left Bollywood to remake It Happened One Night over and over!

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