5 Times When Bollywood Remade Its Own Movies

Published by Shah Shahid on

The upcoming ‘Hero‘ is an official remake of a Subhash Ghai movie, being produced by Salman Khan that launches a brand new pair of actors, Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty. Remade under Ghai’s own production house, the original ‘Hero’ saw the launch of legendary Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff (‘Brothers‘). The new ‘Hero’ is adapted from Ghai’s original movie by Nikhil Advani, also directing the movie, with some obvious upgrades to visuals and plot points in order to contemporize the film.

While remaking a popular movie of another Industry such as Hollywood is nothing new for Bollywood, remakes of its own movies are not as common of an occurence. While it remains to be seen just how far ‘Hero’ strays from the original source material, the other Bollywood films that have been remade have done so with varying levels of successes.

With that in mind, Here are 5 Times When Bollywood Remade Its Own Movies

[Note: This list does not include Bollywood movies that are remakes of South or other Indian Film Industries.]

[ Warning: This Article does discuss the changes between the original movie and its remake, so will contain *Spoilers* regarding the nature of the story, plot points and climax. Even though the movies being discussed were released decades, if not years ago… please read on at your own discretion. ]

‘Zanjeer’ (1973) & (2013)

5 Times When Bollywood Remade Its Own Movies by Shah Shahid

In a time when romantic movies ruled Bollywood, (much as they do today) change came in the form of ‘Zanjeer‘, a movie that effectively reflected the frustration felt by the common Indian of the time, due to corruption and other social issues. A story about a morally righteous hero, fighting against a corrupt system, even falling victim to it himself, was what ‘Zanjeer’ was all about; and it was something that everyone could relate to, and the massive blockbuster success of the film reflects that. The movie was also responsible for being the film that put legendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan on the map, in his portrayal of the hero, and his brooding and soul piercing style which quickly caused him to become known as the ‘Angry Young Man’; a moniker that stayed with the actor for a while.

in 2013, Apoorva Lakhia, (‘Ek Ajnabee‘) remade ‘Zanjeer‘ starring Ram Charan & popular Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra in the lead roles. The film took some liberties from the original film like updating some of the political settings, however, failed to recreate the social attitudes of the time. The original’s success can be attributed to a turning point within Bollywood, where complete escapism was no longer viable, and the audiences wanted some semblance of acknowledge about their own middle class existence, and fantasize about overcoming it through a dashing on screen hero.  Since ‘Zanjeer’ however, the righteous hero battling the corrupt system has become a Bollywood cliche, seen and done hundreds of times in the many decades since that revolutionary movie. So it’s baffling why Lakhia would attempt to adapt such a contextually out of date concept in the first place, causing little shock as to the film’s inevitable fate at the box office.

Apoorva Lakhia’s ‘Zanjeer’ was a complete box office disaster.

Sholay‘ (1975) & ‘Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag‘ (2007)

5 Times When Bollywood Remade Its Own Movies by Shah Shahid

After his success with ‘Zanjeer‘, Amitabh Bachchan would follow it up with yet another performance, that would go on to become his most iconic role to date. Considered to be one of the most legendary films of Bollywood, ‘Sholay’ itself was a remake of the Hollywood ‘The Magnificent Seven‘. (Which, coincidentally is getting it’s own modern day Hollywood remake by Director Antoine Fuqua, but I digress.) ‘Sholay’ was immensely successful as it adapted the Spaghetti Western elements of Hollywood into a rural village setting and gave audiences a story that appealed to everyone with characters just as relatable. The movie was immortalized even further with break out performances by the now veteran actors Dharmendra & Amitabh Bachchan, as well as their co stars and future wives, Hema Malini & Jaya Bhaduri. Countless other Indian filmmakers have been inspired by the epic film that ‘Sholay‘ ended up being.

One of those filmmakers is the infamous Ramgopal Varma known for his crime thrillers and outspoken personality. Varma remade ‘Sholay’, a movie he claims he was heavily inspired by, but did so amidst much lawsuits, complaints and upheavals by the rest of the film community. More recently the I ndian High Court even fined the filmmaker for remaking the film.

The estate of the original Director Ramesh Sippy, attempted to cease production of this film at every turn, causing Varma to modify the source material just enough to be able to legally continue making the film. The film’s name was changed to ‘Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag‘, and character names were modified or updated altogether. The only constant between the original was the return of actor Amitabh Bachchan, the hero from the original, this time appearing as the villain played in the original by Amjad Khan. Bachchan claims he originally wanted to play the villain in ‘Sholay’ but was only able to live out that dream 40 years later, with disastrous consequences.

Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag‘, was a massive critical and commercial failure and is regarded as one of the worst films in Bollywood history, even acknowledged as so by the director and Bachchan himself. 

Don‘ (1978) & (2006)

5 Times When Bollywood Remade Its Own Movies by Shah Shahid

Riding high on the immense luck he was having at the box office, Bachchan followed up the previous two movies with one that was previously rejected by many. ‘Don’ was a completely Masala Action movie that properly captures the essense of Bollywood in the 70’s. The often rejected script was produced and made on a budget due to desparation by the producer with help from friends in the industry like Amitabh Bachchan and others. The script by Salim Khan and Javed Akthar, (also the men behind the screenplays of ‘Don’ & ‘Zanjeer’) ended up being one of the biggest successes of the 70’s. With a story that had Bachchan playing a double role, and featuring an ensemble cast of characters and multiple subplots, a concept that only started becoming popular in that decade, ‘Don’ brilliantly blended the action genre with subtle espionage elements and character drama to be an entertaining masala film.

Farhan Akthar, son of the original screenwriter Javed Akthar, decided to remake ‘Don’ in 2006, casting popular actor Shahrukh Khan in the titular role. While the major plot points weren’t modified too much, except for one involving Boman Irani’s character, the climax of the film was the biggest departure, revealing the villain to have been alive the whole time. Besides those changes, the film also updates a lot of the elements of action and thriller aspects of the story, with intricate set pieces and subtle clues placed within the story for the audience to figure out the climax prior to. The movie was an Khan’s Don was noticably different than Bachchan’s as he played it more with a psychotic bend, while Bachchan went for a more intimidating approach.

Farhan Akhtar’s ‘Don‘ was a commercial success, even spawning a sequel in 2012 that received mixed responses.

‘Himmatwala’ (1983) & (2013)


A major success from the 1980’s, ‘Himmatwala‘ was a movie that embodied the spirit of Bollywood movies of the decade; crass, overacted, cheesy and containing lots of filler screen time disguised as humour. Starring Jeetendra and Sridevi, the movie focused on the familiar story of a son wanting revenge after his father was wronged by the villain. ‘Himmatwala‘ however, does this through strange choices in story and plot devices, as the hero’s sister is married to a supporting villain, only to be treated poorly. The resolution of the movie also involves the villains doing chores, as if that justifies their otherwise cruel and evil nature throughout the rest of the movie.

For some strange and odd reason, director Sajid Khan (‘Heyy Babyy’) chooses to remake an already dated movie, and decides to set in the same time period as well. The completely out of context ‘Himmatwala‘ starring Ajay Devgn, followed almost the exact same storyline and sequence of events. The movie stays true to the original in look and feel as well, to its own detriment, as it manages to retain all elements of Bollywood in the 80’s that makes movies of that era outdated today.

Sajid Khan’s ‘Himmatwala‘ was a major flop, commercially, critically, and in every which way. 

Agneepath‘ (1990) & (2012)

5 Times When Bollywood Remade Its Own Movies by Shah Shahid

The original ‘Agneepath’ had a lot going against it. The dark and gritty undertones for a Bollywood movie of that time, and the intensely brooding story and performances seemed to work against the critical reception of the film. The story is that of a son of a village elder, conspired against and murdered, seeking revenge, and going to extreme lengths to get it. ‘Agneepath‘ features thematic elements that are violent and full of bloodlust, and a movie that is essentially an emotional revenge movie. The film was considered very dark for it’s time, and along with the above mentioned obstacles, resulted in the movie being a financial and critical failure. However, over time, the film gained a cult following, and is considered one of Amitabh Bachchan’s more iconic roles, often compared to ‘Scarface’.

In 2012, ‘Agneepath‘ was remade by the original producer’s son, Karan Johar, starring Hrithik Roshan and Sanjay Dutt. The remake, strayed a lot from the source material. While the original had Bachchan’s character be taken in and raised by some city thugs, Roshan’s was taken in by the enemy of the man who killed his father. Bachchan’s character’s actual revenge happened more due to coincidences and luck, whereas Roshan’s character intentionally devoted his youth and adult life to bringing his plan to fruition. The remake also removes a supporting character from the original, (Mithun Chakraborty), while adding an entirely new character. (Rishi Kapoor) Despite it’s village and small town setting, the remake managed to tell a compelling story with amazing performances and was enough like the original to retain it’s spirit, but different enough to tell its own story without comparisons. 

The remake was considered a critical and commercial success, and one of the highest grossing films of the year. 

Let me know if I missed any other Bollywood remakes of other Bollywood movies in the comments below or let me know on Twitter @theshahshahid.

Shah Shahid

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


Keyur Seta · September 11, 2015 at 5:31 AM

Hi Shahid!

Good one. By the way, I would like to list two films which were remade by the same filmmaker and in a span of just 1-2 years.

1. Ram Gopal Varma produced James in 2005 with Mohit Ahlawat and Nisha Kothari. When the film flopped, he remade the same film as Shiva in 2006 with the same actors. This time he directed it. This one too flopped. RGV took a vow that he would keep on remaking this film until it succeeds at the box office. Thank heavens he didn’t keep his vow. 😛

2. Vikram Bhatt made Inteha in 2003 with Ashmit Patel, Nauheed Cyrusi and Vidya Malwade. The film didn’t do well. He remade it as Aetbaar in 2004 with huge names like Amitabh Bachchan, John Abraham and Bipasha Basu. This one too didn’t do well.

Was discussing this with a friend recently. It amazes me how these filmmakers remake their own film in such a short span and, interestingly, both fail in impressing the audience. 🙂

    Shah Shahid · September 13, 2015 at 6:02 PM

    Hi Keyur! Love when you stop by.

    1. I actually remember the whole ‘James’/’Shiva’ spectacle when it was going on at the time, but when I tried to look into it further, (simply to get my facts right for the list) I found no mention of the controversy on Wikipedia or anywhere else. So decided to leave it out, rather than speak out of my ass. :p

    2. I actually didn’t know that ‘Aetbaar’ was Bhatt’s own remake. I saw ‘Aetbaar’… wasn’t it basically also a remake of ‘Fear’ with Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon?

    It’s kind of sad, also I guess persistent of a filmmaker to keep remaking their own films, to correct their own mistakes. I’d rather personally see those mistakes corrected in future original films myself. As a lot of other filmmakers have gone on to do.

    Thanks for the comment Keyur.

      Keyur Seta · September 14, 2015 at 4:01 AM

      Hi Shahid. Thanks for your kind words. Pleasure is mine 🙂

      I am surprised that there isn’t any info about Shiva and James. I heard it during RGV interview.

      Yes, Inteha was a copy of Fear. Then he copied it again as Aetbaar. Vikram Bhatt is the only filmmaker in the world who copied a film twice 😀 Lol.

Keyur Seta · September 11, 2015 at 5:35 AM

Coming to the topic of your original post, apart from Don, Agneepath and Chashme Baddoor, all remakes have failed in Bollywood. There is a craze for remakes despite such low success rate.

    Shah Shahid · September 13, 2015 at 6:03 PM

    I feel like that’s another issue of Bollywood just imitating Hollywood. The trend has seen much more success in Hollywood, so B-Town I guess wants to just do the same, regardless of success rate.

    The South remakes though, are a LOT more successful. That would be another list. Albeit a never ending one. 😐

      Keyur Seta · September 14, 2015 at 4:03 AM

      It is a clear case of imitating Hollywood. Most of these remakes have failed maybe because the makers wanted to remake a popular film/ classic just for the sake of remaking 🙂

      South list is a good idea. Will be a long list.

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