Unfaithful was undoubtedly a very nice film. A simple storyline but powerful execution and there was Richard Gere to add glamour. Murder had only glamour in the form of Mallika Sherawat. Body Heat had a nail biting plot. Jism had scintillating songs. I am not someone who is against remakes…I would infact call it emulation. In any remake there is definitely room for improvisation but in this case it is an impoverish mock-up. What is stopping an aesthetic photocopy? So here I am going to deliberate on the cultural adaptation challenges of remakes.
In Unfaithful, a lonely wife succumbs to temptation and goes astray having a roaring affair with a guy…a stranger much younger to her. In Murder too the plot is the same….but the guy is not a stranger but her ex-boyfriend. And to add more pity, the heroine is married to her brother in law after her sister’s death. And the immoral act is not set in Indian soil but abroad. Lame reasons or plot points to attract sympathy for the heroine even when she is promiscuous. Why were these changes made to the setting? Is it because Indian women and promiscuity are antonyms or Indian women should have some strong reason to go astray? (anything other than strong sexual attraction as in the case of Unfaithful). Is it because Indian women and one night stand and affair with strangers are impossible or difficult to digest? Is it culture shock or comprehension skills of viewers or rather underestimation of reception skills of discerning viewers?
Well one can say that these questions can be raised for any Indian film and not just remakes. (For instance Tamil film Poove Poochudava’s protagonist Nadiya and her grand mother are Hindus whereas in its Malayalam version they are Christians, though the story had nothing to do with religion.) And Hollywood remakes of European originals have also not escaped criticism. Agreed. But aren’t remakes answerable to the ethos of the originals? Maybe that’s why terms like ‘loosely based’ and ‘inspired by’ surface to shield against criticism.