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Re-making magic.

Byline: Dr. Omar Farooq Khan

Films have always been an integral part of entertainment. From their initial days as black and white silent features, they managed to advance to sound and colour, augmenting their capability to entertain and hold one's interest from the beginning till the end. Thus there is no mistake in stating that movies are indeed one of the best forms of entertainment available.

The ability to hold people's attention and mesmerise them has always been the main reason behind successful filmmaking. This success relies on numerous factors within the film itself, it can be the actors' performances, a strong/interesting screenplay, good direction/production or technological marvels like special effects, basically a combination of some or all of these factors help a film work its magic on the viewers.

Over the years, filmmakers all over the world have utilised these factors and created many masterpieces which have been considered as major benchmarks in the history of filmmaking. The key to success has always been to create something fresh, original, innovative and most important of all, something that not only entertains viewers but also bonds with them at a personal level. Films that have managed to create such special bonds obtain a cult status and some also go on to be remembered as classics.

As more and more films are made, the aspect of re-doing a cult/classic has become the centre of attention for a lot of filmmakers. One of the reasons of re-making a classic or a cult film happens to be that since such movies have bonded with audiences in the past; therefore, they have a strong chance of being accepted again. In simpler words, it is a successful tried and tested blueprint that can do well again, provided if it is fine-tuned to the needs of the new movie audience.

But a previous history is a double-edged sword and can work either in favour or against the re-make/re-boot of the original. In re-makes following three major challenges need to be looked into by the filmmakers. First the fan-base of the original film is to be catered to, since any major deviation will offend them and keep them from watching the movie. Second is to make the story more relevant to the current times. This expands the fan base, and also brings to the story more relevance (in regards to current times). The idea is to attract new fans; such process will re-invent the cult classic thus making its fan following greater, for more people will now be able to relate to the film. Last but not least the third aspect is maintaining the fragile balance between the first two objectives.

Rebooted franchises that managed to get this formula right have found themselves to be quite successful. Movies like Star Trek, Pink Panther, Saint, Italian Job and Ocean's Eleven, etc happen to be prime examples of such successful re-makes. These movies managed to get this modus operandi well and thus they reaped the benefits of re-booting/re-making an old franchise.

A re-make that overlooks the balancing act of the film, only ends up crashing and burning at the box office. Re-makes like Superman, Get Carter, Plant of the Apes and A-team are few examples that bombed big with the critics as well as the audience.

The prospect of re-making a movie is not just limited to films in the west. In fact the fad also found its way into Asian cinema, causing Bollywood to jump onto the re-make bandwagon. One such example from the Indian cinema happens to Devdas, a re-make feature starring Shahrukh Khan. In the past, two feature films have been made on the same story, with one starring K.L. Saigal and the latter Dilip Kumar in the title role. Other examples of re-makes from Indian pictures include Umrao Jan Ada and Sholay both performing very poorly at the box office, being dubbed as pale shadows of their predecessors by the film critics

Opinion regarding re-makes is varied among public. Those of purist mentality state that classics should be left as they are, since re-makes will never be able to re-capture the magic of the original masterpiece. Another school of thought says that these stories need to be re-told by utilising modern methods and more relevant references with regard to recent times.

Whatever the case may be, the re-make mania is very much in progress and how successful it is only depends on the initiatives of the filmmakers and the response they get from the viewers and critics.

Dr. Omar Farooq Khan watches the re-makes of classics.

The writer is a medical doctor and writes for various publications.
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Date:Aug 31, 2010
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