This article was first published on Passion For Cinema.
Hollywood has been on a media reboot spree for a while now. By ‘reboot’, I mean taking an old piece of media content, usually one that is well past its prime and is generating limited revenue, and launching it in a fresh, updated form, often on a different media channel.
Transformers, Star Trek, A Team, GI Joe, Karate Kid, Incredible Hulk, Superman, Nightmare on Elm St, Batman Begins, Garfield, Prince of Persia, Pirates of the Caribbean etc etc etc.
There are many more in the works, including the film based on the Battleship board game.
There have been a few attempts at this in India. The remakes of classic films have met with mixed success. The reboots of successful TV shows have been far less successful. The simple explanation for this is that the TV shows have basically been remakes, whereas the films have been far more aggressively updated in terms of style and imagery. See the two Don films as an example of this.
The original TV shows, such as Mahabharat and Ramayan, were hugely popular because it was the first time that popular religious stories were being televised. The production values and special effects were awful (Star Trek, screened on TV about 20yrs earlier looked like a Michael Bay film in comparison), the acting was terrible, but none of that mattered. The images, sets, costumes and dialogues had jumped off the pages of picture books and onto the TV screen, in motion. People loved it.
Fast forward 20 years, and someone remakes these. The remakes are, well, pretty much the same as the original. A little glossier, sure, and with better looking actors, but still the giant golden crowns and giant golden maces and wince-worthy green screen effects. I was disappointed at the time that these came out. I mean these are amazing, complex, stories with incredible characters; there was so much potential to tell these stories in modern, refreshing ways. Even in filmmaking there have only been a handful of films that have tried to seriously update these stories: Raajneeti (decently received), Kalyug (very well received), Raavan (well…). I’ve heard that Sriram’s Agent Vinod draws on a Hindi crime novel protagonist, but I could be wrong on that one.
Fox Star Studios are gearing up to release their film reboot of the Hindi hit TV series Kichdi. The film is directed by Aatish Kapadia. If it is a success, it might kick start a trend. The strength of these old serials is that that have characters and worlds that are already established in the minds of fans. You just have to advertise “Kichdi: The Movie” and 50 million people will have a pretty good idea of what they are likely to see. Whether they want to see if enough to spend their money is another question.
I’ve never seen the original series, but I doubt they will change much in the transition to the big screen.
Not being Indian, I was never exposed to the media that most adults in this country grew up on. But it seems that there is a wealth of cartoon characters, comic characters, short-story characters, that still hold huge nostalgic value, despite that fact that they have almost entirely disappeared from modern media. I wonder how these could be presented in a fresh manner that could reengage a whole new generation?
I’m also curious about how the creative community would view this trend. There is an understandable frustration from writer’s, directors, and even some producers about the difficultly in raising money for original story ideas, compared to copying (or Indianising) successful International films. Is this just as bad in terms of rehashing old ideas, or is it an exciting chance to tell new, relevant stories using established characters?