Split Screen: 3 Hollywood Movies Remade By Bollywood

Published by Shah Shahid on

Remaking previously successful films and other franchises have become very popular in Hollywood. TV Series remakes like the upcoming The Man From U.N.C.L.E., or remakes of comic book adaptations like the most recently released Fantastic Four, are signs that remaking or adapting existing on screen works are a successful trend that is here to stay. Hollywood has even gone beyond its own borders to successfully remake movies of other film industries such as Martin Scorcese’s The Departed, a remake of the Hong Kong film franchise Infernal Affairs, the film that won the elusive Oscar for the renowned filmmaker. Spike Lee looked to South Korean thriller Oldboy to remake with Josh Brolin in the lead role, however, with much lesser success.

The idea of remaking successful films of other film industries has also been a pretty common occurrence for India’s Hindi Language Film Industry, commonly referred to as Bollywood. Officially, there have only been 2 Hollywood movies remade into Bollywood films by the original American studios; Fox’s Tom Cruise starrer Knight And Day was remade by the studios’ Indian counterpart into Bang Bang (My comparison here) & Lionsgate’s Warrior, their Martial Arts film starring Tom Hardy into a Bollywood movie entitled Brothers (Trailer comparisons here) due out on August 14th. Unofficially however, it’s a totally different story altogether.

For years now, Bollywood has been unofficially remaking films, miraculously avoiding any repercussions or lawsuits from the West. The remakes range from using a similar story under different cultural settings, to a complete scene by scene mirroring of the original Hollywood movie.

So here are 3 Classic Hollywood Movies Remade By India’s Bollywood.

The Magnificent Seven / Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid to Sholay

3 Classic Hollywood Movies Remade By Bollywood by Shah Shahid on Blank Page Beatdown

One of the earliest examples of a Bollywood movie being inspired by Hollywood, also happens to be one of the more genuine homages to the films copied from. An amalgamation of The Magnificent Seven & Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, Bollywood’s Sholay sees two fearless criminals with hearts of gold, being hired by the head of a village to protect them from outlaws. The chemistry between the lead characters can be very obviously seen to be inspired directly from Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. The Bollywood version is also able to perfectly adapt the frontier setting of the Western films it was inspired by, into a rural village of India in the 70’s. The seamless adaptation of the spaghetti Western genre also makes Sholay one of the more highly respected and classic Bollywood movies of that industry.

Not being a complete copy Sholay manages to weave in original concepts like more light hearted comedy like a drunken water tower scene where one character professes his love to a village girl, and another love story that is more dramatic than comedic. These elements add a richer back story to characters that otherwise would only be described as anti-heroes. While Sholay contains the same head scratchingly random song sequences that are pre-requisites for a commercial Bollywood affair, the overltly cinematic and exaggerated storylines makes those scenes less out of place than the others on this list.

 Reservoir Dogs to Kaante

3 Classic Hollywood Movies Remade By Bollywood by Shah Shahid on Blank Page Beatdown

A director’s first major feature film, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, is the subject of a Bollywood remake. Not content with ripping off being inspired by  just one Hollywood movie, Bollywood’s Kaante begins with a introduction scene similar to that of The Usual Suspects, however quickly transforms into the exact same plot of Reservoir Dogs, with the characters being amalmagations of various characters from the original. Bollywood Director Sanjay Gupta, who’s made a career of remaking Hollywood movies, makes good use of characters of Indian background with a criminal past, feeling racially profiled in America, deciding to get back at the authorities. Tarantino, who’s seen the Bollywood version of his film, has remarked that it improves upon his own characters, by giving them backstories, which is debatable to say the least.

Almost working as a scene by scene Indian translation of Reservoir Dogs, Kaante properly adapted the larger plot points of the original; a group of criminals plotting a heist, then dealing with the aftermath when things go wrong, causing them to turn on one another, whilst suspecting one of them being a traitor. The similarities end there, as the Bollywood version, yet again, ditches the non-linear story telling in favour of sequential story providing emotionally exploitative backstories for each character. The Bollywood version also attempts to replicate the skillful dialogues by Tarantino showing banter between the characters, however, fails as those scenes devolve into vulgar grade school shenanigans. Most jarring of the changes belong more to the genre of Bollywood than the story of the movie, as the seemingly dangerous group of criminals spontaneously break out in song which is anything but.

Back To The Future to Action Replayy

3 Classic Hollywood Movies Remade By Bollywood by Shah Shahid on Blank Page Beatdown

One of the most beloved sci-fi films of all time got a Bollywood remake that tried its hardest to stray away from its original, but with disastrous results. The story a young man who travels back in time, inadvertantly ruining the chances of his own parents getting married, causing in a time paradox that sees him be wiped from existence, having to now play matchmaker to his own parents, while returning to his own time, was extremely innovative and incredibly fun. The Bollywood version of Back To The Future however, removes all those plot points that drive the story forward, and instead sees the main character intentionally travel back in time in order to try to repair his parents’, obviously terrible, marriage, so that he can rid his own trauma regarding marriage having experience a poor version of it all his life.

While Back To The Future provided repercussions for the actions of the protagonist, which could result in his own potential ‘death’, Action Replayy has no such stakes driving the story forward, but consists of slapstick elements of comedy that diverts from the main story, like the Indian version of Biff being able to sing in the dual voice of a man and woman and the Bollywood Doc Brown only being in 3 scenes of the entire film. In Back To The Future, Michael J. Fox’s Marty ends up being crushed on by his own younger mother, and although it became the source for a lot of the comedy in that film, it’s something that would be considered too taboo for Indian audiences, so it became a supporting character who liked the son, and not the mother herself. Another concept changed for Indian audience was the need for Marty’s parents to get together, otherwise he will never have been born. Since that plot point is reliant on basically an act of sex between characters, it’s an element completely removed from the film aimed at a family friendly audience, which between Hollywood & Bollywood audiences, refers to completely different things.

There are hordes of countless other Bollywood movies that have been inspired by and remade from, films of other industries, mostly Hollywood. Bollywood at one point even beat Hollywood to the punch by remaking Oldboy in 2002 years before Hollywood did it in 2013. Now that Hollywood is heading over to India to produce their own films for the Bollywood industry, these blatant copies me be deterred, however, until then there are decades of Hollywood movies remade by Bollywood that we can sit and compare. 

Share your experience with a movie that was a remake of something else in the comments below.

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


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