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The Fault in Our Bollywood

The Fault in Our Bollywood

By Samrudhi Khanna

 Edited by Liz Maria Kuriakose, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist

      I still clearly remember the time when I had hurt my forehead badly enough for it to be stitched back to recovery.  I was merely 7 years of age then and not to forget howling and crying in pain all the while they were stitching my forehead.  The stench of blood in my nose, the blood leaking out of my wounds, my parents holding me down and stopping me from moving – it is still afresh in my mind!  I had never been as terrified in my life as I was then.  That is, until a week ago from today.

     Clearly something very irksome might have happened that made me relate it to the most harrowing and horrifying experience of my severe head injury.  Well it was every bit distressing as I am making it out to be.  A week ago, I read on the internet that Karan Johar has bought the rights to the bestseller “The Fault in Our Stars” (TFIOS).  Not a big deal for you?  Well it is definitely a very big deal for me and millions more who made this book a bestseller.  The romantic comedy – drama written by the famous author John Green is already adapted in Hollywood and has broken several records.  This book is about two terminally ill teenagers who fall in love and the tale is wonderful in every way!

     When the news started circulating about Karan Johar bought the rights of TFIOS, there was uproar in the usually calm TFIOS fandom.  You don’t even want to guess the cherry on top.  Rumors have it that Alia Bhatt is to play the role of our beloved Hazel Grace Lancaster, the protagonist.  Thank God there were no rumors about some generic Bollywood hero playing the charming Augustus Waters or God knows how many casualties might have arisen.  Karan Johar was apparently going to give TFIOS an ‘Indian’ touch.  Was that a threat?  Long story short, not a single piece of this story was digestible to most of the fans, mainly the Indian fans who have read and loved the book and are very well aware about the Bollywood movie type and the said “Indian” touch.

     Now, I think would be the appropriate time to give a disclaimer.  So, here goes nothing!  I am in no way trying to hurt the feeling of anyone and am definitely not here to criticize (realism is not criticism!) anything or anyone.  Now that we are past that, I would like to get to the main point of why I don’t want Karan Johar or any other Bollywood director to remake TFIOS.  Let us start with the title itself.  Our adored Bollywood of “Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye” and “Jaani Dushmann – Ek Anokhi Kahaani” has a habit and a history of giving unique titles to its movies – too unique for a movie that focuses on simple things in life.  I will scratch my own eyeballs out or pour boiling hot oil in my ears before I come across anything like – “Galtiyaan Sitaaron Ki.”  Also, the “happy ending” obsessed audience will hopefully want it here as well.  Spoiler alert – This book does NOT have a happy ending and any alteration in that case will just spoil the crux of the story.

     Now onto the Indian touch.  We all know that Indian touch is just a subtle way of stating the fact that it will have Bollywood “masaala” and other cliché.  Random songs shot at random hill stations while the terminally ill couple wear randomly matching clothes, irrespective of the fact that one is a cripple and other is dependent on a portable oxygen tank will simply make me sob.  Oh….just being extra cautious and mentioning that item song, disco song and other such nonsense will also be unacceptable and completely irrelevant.  Also, the Bollywood “keeda” of shooting at multiple locations will not work here.  The only place that we would want in this movie will be Amsterdam – Amsterdam rocks and so do all the adventures and moments they share while here.  Extravagance is another thing that I am terrified of.  No, Augustus can’t ride Ferrari and Harley Davidson…… Hazel just can’t wear Gucci and Chanel……no they cannot even put in the usual high school Bollywood drama because Hazel is home schooled!  Any kind of ostentatious and showy stuff will fail to deliver the message that the book is originally meant to pass – that of simplicity.  From this book we learn that whatever circumstances or conditions we are living in, we have to have an optimistic approach and live for the moment and not worry about future.  This book is simple in every way and we don’t need to SOTYize it!  We need “our little infinity,” “Okay” and “Always.”

     I want to repeat this again that I am not objecting to Karan Johar making the remake but a remake being made in general.  Bollywood has carved its own niche in the world of celluloid and is successful.  The only thing message that I want to get across is that TFIOS is considered to be sacred by many, including me and any kind of change or “Indian” touch is what we are most scared of.  We have all grown up watching Indian movies and many of them include remakes.  Such movies are too serious and sober for Indian audience as well as directors and there will always be an itch to add a song here or some “masaala” there.

Samrudhi is pursuing Financial Markets at Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai. Besides financial markets, her interests are writing, literature and dancing. Reading is second nature to her – classis literature, Austen, Archer, Bronte sisters and Sheldon are her loyal friends! Writing is another thing she takes great pleasure in and economics, current affairs, polictics are her favorite topics. Having a complete aversion to all types of social networking mediums, you can get in touch with her only through her email: [email protected]!


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