An argument was brewing deep as the stage saw the presence of five eminent speakers from tinseltown coming in from across the globe on the second day of Ficci-Frames 2007 in Mumbai. Both the domestic and international perspectives led the chain of thought.
“In Italy sequels are now gaining popularity whereas remakes are not yet as famous,” began the famous Italian director Adriano de Micheli. In his opinion, the genre of sequels found its own space as characters are being further developed through second and even third parts, hence, being appreciated by the masses. “Sequels today appeal to the younger population, whereas the prequels seem to please the older generation, hence capturing different target audiences with two different movies–and why not!” expressed the Italian director.
As the mike changed hands and moved on to the spectrum of the Indian filmmakers, the mood was altered. The myth about commercial success being the epitome reason for sequels was crashed dually by the reality of Umrao Jaan 2, and the reminder of the same that was made by Bollywood director Vinay Shukla. His address began with a trip down into history, running back in time and visiting 1917, when Bollywood witnessed its first remake. Proving to be successful then, much like some of the remakes today, the medium was not criticised.
Supporting the concept of remakes, Shukla argued that if the same story was filmed with different and improved technology, possibly which could also be extended over to different media formats – staying true to the soul of the story, the concept of doing a new and improved version seemed justified. However, he declared, “I am not in favour of tampering or changing classics.”
Moving away from confusion, noted director Sudhir Mishra of the Hazaron Khwaishey Aise fame, steered back the discussion towards the positivity of remakes and sequels. Interestingly, he began with his upcoming project, which works as a sequel to his first and last movie made, collectively!
The audience response towards two characters in two different films led him to think of a third, starring these two chosen protagonists. Supporting this, he stated, “An old movie isn’t necessarily a classic and neither is a new one necessarily modern. It is about expressing an idea in certain ways and formats that creates the difference.” Sharing his views further, he went on to throw light on the aspect of bringing newness to the ideas and films that had their day under the sun.
“What we add to the older scripts is our personal experience in today’s reality. Even when we tell stories to our children or friends, we add our personal essence within the idea--this holds the same in the case of remaking older movies too.”
He also drew attention to the idea of cinema drawing inspiration from subject matter, after all, most of the Bollywood films are based on the tried and tested formulae. “Most of our movies deal with the lost and found, father-son clashes. Would this in a sense not be considered as remaking the same film? Though the plot is the same, each one however gets an individual treatment and is different from each other.” Moving to a tangent, he said freshness also stemmed from fresh filmmakers and fresh thought-leaders, hence sticking within the family may not always be the best way to inaugurate a new perspective.
Getting the conversation back on track was another noted Bollywood director Kunal Kohli and his experience with Mujhse Dosti Karoge as well as Hum Tum. While the former was a run-of-the-mill idea, the latter came with a completely new angle as well as a new approach, not only in terms of marketing, but also in terms of presentation and appeal. “At Yash Raj Films, we make movies with the heart and not with a calculator,” he began. “When Devdas was made with KL Saigal, it was a masterpiece of its time, then the Dilip Kumar version was deemed as a classic success and a bigger hit. In five years, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas will be known as an even better classic.”
Agreeing with his peers, he went on to further the idea that every director gets a separate viewpoint that is expressed on his own canvas. “Art has restrictions too, so does cinema. Creative ideas may be priceless but putting them into celluloid costs a lot of money,” he shared. When it came to sequels, he agreed that some directors might feel the pressure to make a sequel because of the profits reaped on the previous one, however the difference was when he tried to explore different dimensions of the character and of the medium which had earlier not been explored.
Portraying his love for cinema, Vinod Pande drew an interesting example from Hollywood. “Every Bond film is technically a sequel and now with a new Casino Royale we’ve a remake of a sequel, of which all have been successful and well-appreciated by the audience across the globe. It’s the sheer passion of filmmaking that makes directors pursue either or both the genres,” he urged. He went on to express that the actual success of any film depended on the honesty, intensity and integrity of the director or filmmaker.
Breaking the myths of sequels being a process of simplicity and ease, the scriptwriter of Dhoom and Dhoom2 Vijay Krishna Acharya said, “It is more difficult to pen a sequel as it means that you are challenging yourself and making yourself perform better than your previous best.” Elucidating his point, he said, “When writing a sequel, the write needs to stay with the core idea of the character. There are limitations in the areas that he can explore, keeping the spirit of the first movie close to bay.”
Talking about predictability and traps that a potential sequel may throw their way, he explained that the challenge was to go beyond and reach out to a level that was not expected to begin with. Clarifying his perspective, he said, “The logical progression from a bike move (Dhoom) to its sequel (Dhoom 2) would have been to move to cars or choppers. However we reached a different dimension on the whole with a love story and unbelievable action substantiated with graphic creation.”
No matter what the debate, the reason for a sequel could span from emotional connects with the characters, egoistic ventures which are not satisfied with the current rendition of idea or approach and lastly the economic success that laid with their part one. Be it a remake or a sequel, the truth is unanimous – the audience already knows the subjects and the characters and they are ready to consume it.