Recursive Rip-offs

It happens only in India.

Seriously, someone should patent this 'movie making process' that is available only in India. Thanks to the multiple dialects and dedicated viewers, every hit formula has the potential for someone to reproduce it - over and over and over and over.

You be the judge.

Case #1: Manichithrathazhu (1993) to Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007)

The Malayalam movie, Manichithrathazhu, was a really good horror movie. As usual, the movie was down-to-earth and well enacted.

At least ten years later, this movie was revisited. P.Vasu who was having a bad time in Tamil cinema was testing waters in neighboring Karnataka. Thus was born the surprise hit Apta Mitra (copy of Manichitrathazhu) with the late Soundarya. Fast forward 2004, the Superstar was hearing scripts and he found something interesting in afore mentioned Kannada movie. Chandramukhi (2005) showed who's who to Tamil cinema. At the time of writing, Chandramukhi is still running in Chennai.

Priyadarshan has made it big in Bollywood through effectively combining hit Malayalam movies and Akshay Kumar. Bhool Bhulaiyya is Chandramukhi/Apta Mitra/Manichithrathazhu in Hindi and is supposedly raking in the moolah as well. One story has conquered almost the whole of India in the span of a decade (and over four movies).

Case #2: Don (1978) to Don (2006); Billa (1980) to Billa 2007

Don was a genuinely good movie - urban thriller way back in 1978. It was so good that the Bachchan movie was remade in Thamizh by actor/producer Balaji (a trend setter in remakes) starring Rajini again. This movie was Billa. Both movies were hits. It kind of established Rajini as a mass hero. Billa was a faithful reproduction of Don.

Javed Akthar was one of the script writers of Don. (Salim Khan was the other). Akthar's son Farhan is an auteur of sorts. He revisited the Don storyline to give a rare non-Yashraj no-Karan Johar movie for Shah Rukh Khan. It was a fresh look at the old story and worked big time - especially the climax.

News is that Billa 2007 starring Ajith is going to be released in Thamizh later this year. Here is my head-scratch inducer - Is Billa 2007 a remake of Billa 1980, the remake of Don 1978 or is it a remake of Don 2006, the remake of Don 1978? What then is its illicit relationship to Don 1978?

Case #3: Ullaththai Alliththaa - the ultimate rip-off

This movie is the ultimate rip-off in my books. This Thamizh movie is a remix version of the Hindi movie 'Andaz Apna Apna' starring Aamir Khan and Salman Khan. Good old Koundamani placed homage to the Salman Khan character in the Thamizh version. That is a comic coup in itself. I wasn't too worried about this rip-off itself but the thing that brought the house down was the sound track for this movie by Sirpi. Every song is a rip off - each one from a different source. The fact that the whole story revolves around impersonation and stealing just made the plot thicker.

Case #4: When a copy cat gets copied by another copy cat, does the music sound good?

Thiruttisai Thendral Dheva is known for blatantly lifting other compositions. What would one say to Anu Malik who lifted one of Dheva's lift? Flattering a flatterer. The song in context is the forgettable "Priya Priya Oh Priya" from Kattabomman. Either Anu Malik sits and listens to Dheva songs or Dheva just beat Anu Malik to the original source.

Case #5: The Mannan Paradigm

From Mannan to Gharaana Mogudu to Mechanic Maapillai. The Superstar makes yet another appearance in this analysis but on the positive side this time. Mannan (P.Vasu again is the director) was a super duper hit in Thamizh. The Telugu megastar Chiranjeevi kinda liked it and made Gharaana Mogudu with the customary 'rain dance' thrown in as the only difference. Gharaana Mogudu was the biggest Telugu hit at that time. It made actress Nagma have a great fan following in the two south states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. This prompted distributors to dub Gharaana Mogudu and release it in Thamizh (I think it was called Mechanic Maapillai). I still remember standing with my friends outside a cinema hall that had Mannan running in the matinee show and Mechanic Maapillai for the evening and night shows. The same movie just a few years apart - people!

Why won't you love our cinema junta?

May 25, 2010

I would like to add "Ravan(an)" and "Kites" to this mix of multi lingual mash-ups.

Mani Ratnam and Vikram have combined to introduce an agile style of film making where the characters are constant while the actors are floating.

Kites, a trilingual movie, is now running across America in two versions - the Bollywood version and Bret Ratner presents a version sans the song sequences. It looks like audiences are staying away as both versions have at least two languages that they don't get.


  1. A clarification.Both Mannan and Gharana Mogudu were remakes of a Kannada film Anuraga Aralithu.
    So Superstar is once again on the negative side this time.[:D]

  2. Noted. Yet, I get the sinking feeling that the superstar walked away with more booty than the others. Better packaging?
    "Naye naye packet mein bechchein thumkon cheez purani
    Phir bhi dil hai hindustani"

  3. I thought "Ullathai Allithaa" was a rehash-remake-rip-off of Sivaji Ganesan & ChandraBabu's "Sabaash Meena". Still,...

  4. Joe,
    You are giving ideas to Kollywood.

  5. Anonymous6:12 PM

    Nice post, Vijay. I think all songs in Ullathai Allitha were copied from Hisham Abbas, an Egyptian pop singer. Sirpi didn't even bother to steal from multiple sources. - Sriram

  6. I am not so sure Sriram. I think the "Mama nee mama" is from a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan number. 'Adi Anarkali' is from Shaggy's 'Summertime'.