Split Screen: KNIGHT AND DAY (2010) & BANG BANG (2014)
“Split Screen” analyzes films with the source material that they have been inspired by, while providing some insight into both of the works, to determine whether the adaptation was successful or not. The realm of these films contain comic book movies, remakes, book adaptations, and any other movies that have been directly inspired by another piece of work, regardless of the original medium.
Unlike some Bollywood movies that are blatantly copied from Hollywood, this year’s latest Bollywood release BANG BANG, is an official remake by the same studios that produced the original. The makers responsible for the action comedy KNIGHT AND DAY, tasked a Bollywood crew to remake the movie for the Hindi Film Industry known as Bollywood. Despite their similarities, Split Screen will take a look and see which movie was better made over all. Obviously, massive *Spoilers* for both these films are to follow.
In the case of this pair-up, there really is no controversy as the Bollywood version wasn’t a rip off of a Hollywood movie, but produced by the same studios as an official remake for a new audience.
Synopsis & Similarities
Both KNIGHT AND DAY & BANG BANG have a story where the main hero is a somewhat unhinged, yet mysterious action hero type of character, who crosses paths with a girl, and the two end up on a whirlwind adventure around the world while on the run from people who want to kill them, for even more mysterious reasons. Through out both films, the honesty and reliability of the hero is at question, due to his unpredictible nature, while other characters try to convince ‘the girl’ that he’s actually a bad guy. Ultimately, the truth comes out, the two fall in love, and the hero’s true past is revealed causing both characters to navigate this new found love while dodging bullets and explosions so the hero can finish his mission. Both movies are meant to be quirky romantic action comedies, but one definitely succeeds in being an over all enjoyable movie, over the other.
Many scenes are mirror images of each other, with similar situations and even dialogues, that have basically been translated word for word from English to Hindi. The cute initial meeting between the main couple happens exactly the same way in both films, albeit more romntisized in BANG BANG, and the scenes after are also the same, with the girl giving herself a pep talk in the bathroom, while the hero indulges in a massive action sequence outside. The scenes of the girl being drugged and the Point Of View shots of her coming in and out of conscious-ness as the hero takes her across continents are also done in the same manner in both films. Not to mention the ending of the movie is also the exact same, with the girl saving the hero in a state similar to that of hers through a lot of the movie; under sedation.
Direction & Deviations
Despite being adapted from the same material, the films vary in tone and story. BANG BANG adds its own twists and modifications to the screenplay in an attempt to appeal to the Indian audience, but the results are dumbing down a film that didn’t need it. KNIGHT AND DAY had a story that was already set in motion, with the audience & Cameron Diaz’s June joining in mid way, with exposition and other scenes revealing what was happening as the film continued. But the screenplay for BANG BANG slows down the momentum of the story by adding an out of context introductory scene where a terrorist escapes from military custody by murdering a character that is later revealed to be the hero’s brother.
This scene, meant to provide a twist ending where the hero Rajveer played by Hrithik Roshan, a jewel theif who thus far had no connections to the Terrorist villain, is revealed to have been motivated by his need to avenge the death of his brother the entire time. KNIGHT AND DAY saw Tom Cruise‘s Roy as a dedicated Spy, willing to risk being branded a traitor to stay true to his mission, and protect an innocent, making everything he makes with June suffer through, somewhat justifiable. Where as Rajveer’s risking Katrina Kaif‘s Harleen’s life and putting her in danger, repeatedly, and completely turning her life inside out, was all to satisfy his own personal need for revenge. Especially when it’s made clear that his intentions aren’t to take the Terrorist in custody to stand trial or follow any due process, but just to blow everything and everyone up. Again, for revenge.
KNIGHT AND DAY also had a very consistent tone through out the film. The film maintains its light hearted humour during all kinds of scenes, be it dramatic, action or even the emotional sequences. BANG BANG, similar to Bollywood movies in general, shifted gears abruptly between comedy, drama, emotional family & patriotic themes and heavy romance dripping with unnecessary cliches, making the movie feel like a series of generic scenes from other genres edited together.
The biggest difference the two has to be the portrayal of the main female character. KNIGHT AND DAY featured Cameron Diaz’s June as a tough as nails woman who restores muscle cars and has her own garage. BANG BANG, with Katrina Kaif essaying the same role, reduced the character to a snivelling girl whose family and society guilts into going on blind dates with random men from the internet, in order to find a man and be in a relationship, without which her life is meaningless. June is shown having a former boyfriend whom she refused to marry in order to maintain her own independence, while the introduction of Harleen, during an exploitative shower scene, shows her grandma berating her for not going on any dates, citing ‘being modern’ as her justification for suggesting her own granddaughter go out and party all night. It’s an unnecessary modification by the Bollywood screenwriters, one that feels offensive, and intentional given just how much the female character is changed in those specific regards in BANG BANG.
Performances & Portrayals
A story which is based on the chemistry and interaction between the two lead pair, requires them to actually have… chemistry. KNIGHT AND DAY casts Tom Cruise & Camerzon Diaz, previously seen in the intense VANILLA SKY, opposite each other and it works wonders. Their chemistry and banter back and forth was as funny as it was enticing, almost like intellectual foreplay. Tom Cruise as the enigmatic Roy was even better, as he almost did a parody of the typical action heroes he usually plays by being one that was aloof and borderline crazy. Cruise’s portrayal was consistent throughout, and even when he switched to serious, it came off as intimidating and carried that much more weight.
Whereas Hrithik Roshan as Rajveer seemed more to be imitating Cruise, rather than making the role his own. Roshan’s performance went from psycho, to charming, to romantic and the 3rd act when he gets somber and serious, is like every other role he’s done. The character of Rajveer took a backseat in many scenes, while the typical Roshan persona took over, offering nothing from the actual character in those scenes. The chemistry between the Kaif & Roshan seemed genuine in some scenes, while forced in others, mostly due to the wooden & monotone deliveries of Kaif in contrast to Roshan’s ease in front of the camera.
KNIGHT AND DAY was considered an entertaining action blockbuster and wasn’t that bad given it was meant to be a purely action fluff film. BANG BANG has broken Box Office records since the few weeks of its release at the time of this writing. Neither film is groundbreaking nor fresh in concept, but for a Bollywood film, the concept of such a high profile, flashy and stylishly packaged action romantic comedy, is a genre not explored much within the Industry.
BANG BANG is an overly complicated story that unnecessarily crams in typical Bollywood film cliches of patriotism and family affairs, and weighs down a movie that otherwise should’ve been light and entertaining. The film is further sullied by the wooden acting of Katrina Kaif, whose deadpan emotional deliveries and a modification of her character from her Hollywood counterpart, makes it a character that’s neither relatable or likeable. KNIGHT AND DAY comes out on top in direct comparison, given that the film stays true to its set up and keeps the fun factor high without overly dramatizing everything.