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Bollywood- A Comedy of Errors

Bollywood- A Comedy of Errors

By Parag Agarwal

Edited By Nandita Singh, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist

Bollywood, the name itself inspired from the American Film Industry known as Hollywood, is the film industry not of India, but of Maharashtra. Bollywood has given the world some amazing movies, right from its first movie Raja Harishchandra to evergreen movies in color like Mughal-e-Azam, with actors that re-defined acting itself like Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand with movies like Mera Naam Joker (1970), Saudagar (1991) and Guide (1965) respectively. The era of these actors is known as “The Golden Era” of Bollywood. It is said, “An actor cannot be great if the script isn’t.” All of these actors had even more amazing writers as their backbone. Wajahat Mirza, Sachin Bhomwick, and Akhtar Mirza, are three of the most gifted writers India has ever witnessed.

Over time, Indian moviemakers started making adaptations of plays written by Shakespeare as ‘Comedy of Errors’ became ‘Angoor (1982)’, the countless adaptations of Romeo and Juliet like ‘Bobby (1973), Saudagar (1991), Ishaqzaade (2012), Ram-Leela (2013)’, Out of all the movie makers, Vishal Bharadwaj is the maker most inspired by the bard, with his movies like ‘Maqbool (2003)’ inspired by Macbeth, ‘Omkara (2006)’ inspired by Othello, and his latest movie ‘Haider (2014)’, a blend of Hamlet and real life events. A lot of moviemakers have made a lot of adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays in various languages. Not only plays, there are various movies based upon book adaptations too, like 3 Idiots (2009) was inspired by Chetan Bhagat’s ‘5 Point Someone’, Kai Po Che (2013) inspired by Chetan Bhagat’s 3 Mistakes of My Life, etc. While these play/book adaptations do a lot of business at the box office, it makes us question if the Indian writers have started lacking originality.


Countless Bollywood movies in the past decade are mere remakes of not only Hollywood movies, but also Tollywood (South-Indian film industry) movies. The first known Hollywood remake in Bollywood was Satte Pe Satta (1982) remade from the Hollywood movie ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ (1954). The journey began from then, but accelerated rapidly in the past decade with over 50 movies being remade not for the purpose of diversification, but with the idea of making more money. The list is as follows:

  1. Naksha -The Rundown (2003)
  2. The Killer -Collateral (2004)
  3. Krrish-Paycheck
  4. Tathastu-John Q
  5. Rang De Basanti- All My Sons
  6. Zinda – old boy
  7. Mr Ya Miss- Hot Chic
  8. Sauda -Indecent Proposal
  9. Ek Ajnabee -Man On Fire
  10. Chocolate-The Usual Suspects
  11. Salaam Namaste – Nine Months
  12. Main Aisa Hi Hoon -I Am Sam
  13. Thupakki – Holiday
  14. Aabra Ka Dabra-Harry Potter (2001)
  15. Dhoom-The Fast and the Furious (2001) &Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
  16. Hum Tum -When Harry Met Sally.
  17. Murder – Unfaithful (2002)
  18. Qayamat: The Rock (1996)
  19. .. Mil Gaya : E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Forrest Gump (1994)
  20. Rowdy Rathore – Vikramarkudu
  21. Bang Bang – Knight and Day

The list is endless. While some of these movies work, countless movie fail as well, like Players (2012) inspired by The Italian Job bombed at the box office miserably.

Not only movies, but also TV shows these days are copied from American TV shows. The biggest TV show in the history of Indian televisiom is ‘Kaun Banega Cororepati?’ which is copied from Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? Other not-so-famous TV show remakes include:

  1. Kya Aap Paancvi Pass Se Tej Hain? – Are You Smarter than a fifth grader?
  2. Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachaaon – Get me out of this jungle
  3. India’s Minute to win it – minute to win it
  4. Jhalak Dikhlaja – Dancing with the stars
  5. Indian Idol – American Idol
  6. India’s got talent – America’s got talent

India is not short of creative writers, but it is our makers who fear experimentation that end up copying movies and TV shows. It isn’t wrong to copy, it’s legal too, as the makers buy the rights first, but Indian writers are not given a fair chance, and that is clear injustice.

Parag Agarwal is a 17 years old, doing the IB Diploma Program from SVKM International School. His hobbies are reading, writing. He maintains a blog, which he writes at He plays squash and soccer at times. He is not a party person and prefers staying at home and reading a book.

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