Saturday, April 21, 2012

Movies that Indian Film Industry ruined for me

Taking a cue from Nikhat on her post a week ago about the movies she doesn't get appeal of and Alex's infamous post few months ago, I am in the mood for controversy as well. Both these lists are much bigger and better than what I am attempting but what I am actually attempting is a kinda specialized angel than all-encompassing nature of the two lists above. However, let me tell you a small story first. 

I am sure almost everyone knows that Hindi film industry is usually referred to as 'Bollywood' in Popular culture. But I am not sure lot of people know why? It is kind of derogatory term coming from short version of Bombay's Hollywood. Bombay or Mumbai as it is known now is where most of the Hindi film industry is located and term was coined because of the belief that all Hindi movies are copied from Hollywood movies. Now, Bollywood does have it's fair share of movies which are derived from Hollywood and with the presence of 'Bhatt Camp' it is obviously impossible to reject this as outrageous but still calling all the films are copied is stretching truth a little bit too much. However, this term is used so left, right and center that I don't think anyone feels that sting anymore, including me. After all, second most viewed post on this blog is titled 'Bollywood 101'. I sometimes find myself wondering if that is good thing or bad ? I might be drifting from the point a little. The point is, before I became a movie junkie that I am now, I have been watching Indian movies all my life and watching them has made me appreciate few truly amazing Hollywood movies a little less than I think they deserve, for various reasons. Let me be very clear and admit that by no means, any film in the list below is a bad movie. On the flip side, some of them are truly phenomenal. But they all have something common in them - Indian film Industry has ruined them for me. And they are,

Casino(1995): If I am being honest, this is not doing of Indian movies alone. Scorsese himself has played his part in it as well. I saw this after a lot of Scorsese movies, Goodfellas(1990), Taxi Driver(1976), Raging Bull(1980), The Departed(2006) and I loved them all. So, going into Casino with this baggage, I did not think it handled it well. In many ways it is very much similar to Goodfellas which I love - same actors, similar characters, similar environment and also similar source material from the same writer. Now I know I probably should not but with so much resemblance I can't help compare it with Goodfellas and then starts to droop for all the reasons Andy Buckle stated here. But, actually whether I think it is a good movie or not isn't point of focus in this post. What matters is how did Indian film Industry contribute towards it. So, there have been many Indian movies that follow the similar path - rise and fall of certain outsider in the Underworld - made in 70's and 80's. Though all of them had certain qualities of their own that they bring to the table, I think the central theme has been a little overused in Indian movies. And I don't really think that Casino adds any new dimensions to the whole scenario to warrant a special place for himself.

North by Northwest(1959)Let me start by saying that even in my books, it is a classic and will forever remain a classic. I have utmost respect for the legacy of this movie and I feel even more sad for Eva Marie Saint as she did two iconic movies in her career and they both end up in this list(wait for the next movie before you start hating me!!). But even then I will be lying to myself if I say that I felt anything special while watching it. What North by Northwest is most known for is paving a path for many action thrillers to follow over so many years and I respect it for that. An Indian film called Madhumati(1957) did similar feat for Indian horror movies and I have always respected that accomplishment. But, I have been fed whole lot of Indian movies to really appreciate whole lot more than that. Almost all the other aspects of North by Northwest, feel like I have been watching it all the time in Indian movies. Wrong man movie - there is Jewel Thief(1967), spy movie - there is Aankhen(1968), Wrong Man action Thriller - there is Teesri Manzil and let me tell you that they are as iconic as North by Northwest in Indian Cinema. Even all the action in this movie especially makes me think of Indian movies in 60s and 70s. So, sorry Hitch !! I was introduced just a tad late to your plausible masterpiece. 

On the Waterfront(1954): Believe me, when I say there is no one more sad than me to include this classic in this list. But there is a reason for that too. Well, There is an Indian movie called Ghulam(1998). I actually loved this movie a lot. It has a good story - a little different from usual rom-coms you see so much in Bollywood, pretty nice leading pair and one of my favorite shots. I must have seen this right when it was still out in theaters, so close to 13 years ago. And then I saw On the Waterfront(1954) just last year. A girl once came to the Library desk I used to work and signed it out. While signing out it to her, I realized this might be something I can be interested in and checked out later and gave it a try. It's a winner of 8 Oscars, Elia Kazan, Marlon Brando. Not much can go wrong. So, as I am watching it, I kept on feeling like I have seen it somewhere - maybe I have actually seen it before, just don't remember it. But at the scene where Terry and Charlie have their talk, it all came back to me. It all felt so familiar because Ghulam is based on it. And then after that, I spend my whole time cursing Vikram Bhatt - director of Ghulam because they are so much similar. Maybe, I knew that all along but because I saw Ghulam for more than a decade before, it didn't come to me before watching On the Waterfront(1954). I genuinely used to like it, but now I can not get over the fact that it is so much based on On the Waterfront(1954) out of my head. Not only that he ruined Ghulam for me, I have never been able to appreciate On the Waterfront as much as I should. I know it is all in my mind, but I will never be able to forgive Vikram Bhatt for this.

Primal Fear(1996): Remember the movie that made Edward Norton household name in the very first movie he made and even got himself nominated for the Oscars ? Remember that brilliant twist in the end, which must have made most of you flip in your seats ? Well, will you believe me if I say that I was hoping that twist wasn't there ? I know, I am asking that the moment, which for lot of us made that film, to be not there. But, again, there is another Indian movie called Deewangee which follows the same path. Now, while watching Primal Fear, within an hour into the movie I had realized this and I probably knew it all along. So, here it is not the case that this realization ruined this film for me. But, since almost all the twists are pretty much same in both, I knew exactly how this story is going to go ahead and how is it going to end ? And it did follow exact same path. Now, I am not taking any credit away from Primal Fear because, William Diehl in his novel and Steven Shagan and Ann Biderman in their screenplay, built up really gripping suspense. But since I saw Deewangi first, that moment of epiphany which makes the whole thing work, never occurred to me.

So, what do you think ? Do you think I am being harsh on any of them ? Should I be able to see past them and still appreciate them for just what they are ?


  1. Oh Deewangi totally ruined Primal Fear for me! That would've been an epic twist especially with Norton's amazing performance, but gahhh!!

    Ghulam is based on On the Waterfront? I didn't know this. I have been meaning to watch the latter for ages. Maybe I will soon... I've forgotten most of Ghulam.

    Another Aamir Khan film, Mann, totally ruined An Affair to Remember for me. It's because I hated the former so much that I couldn't take the latter seriously.

    Finally The Seven Samurai. I know I've seen elements of it in so many Hindi films that by the end of it I wasn't as blown away as I should've been.

    Great idea for a post and thanks for the mention :)

    1. I didn't know about On the Waterfront either. Imagine me, realizing it in the middle of movie. I was completely pissed off !!

      About Mann, I have seen both but did not really care for either of them. So, it didn't bother me much.

      Seven Samurai is a completely different story though. Sholay and Do Aankhen bara Haath are the two that come to mind that took the elements of it. And surprisingly I think they all are Brilliant !! Primarily because they added an aspect of their own. I think this and The Godfather probably two of the most copied films all over the world.

      Thanks and You are Welcome !!

  2. I'm glad I've seen neither any of the Indian nor the Hollywood films in the list! ... Oh well, except for Ghulam, but I only remember the songs and the fight scenes because it's been a long time since I saw it. But I guess I won't re-watch it before seeing Primal Fear now.
    Good idea for a list, and very amusing to read.

    1. Well, I think you should give North by Northwest and On the Waterfront a try. Those are really Iconic movies who deserve there place in history. But if I can recommend you, please watch the originals before their Hindi adaptations. I will like to hear from someone with reverse approach. Thanks for the comment !!

  3. Great and very interesting article! I saw Casino before seeing Goodfellas, so maybe that is the reason why I love it most out of all Scorsese's films, though all the ones you mentioned are great too.

    1. Thanks Sati !!

      I am not sure if it is good or bad but it is definitely interesting that our choices change based on the order of movies we see.

  4. This is a really really interesting and unique article. Although I love all of the movies you mentioned, I enjoyed reading why you don't. Quite interesting indeed. Also, thanks for the link! I'm still getting heat for that post.

    1. Thanks Alex !! and sorry I guess. :) Haha

      Let me assure you that I am probably most sad that I can't enjoy films like On the Waterfront and North by Northwest as much as they deserve to be enjoyed. There are many movies I do not like like Slumdog and Star Wars that I mentioned in the comment on your post. But, I am not sorry for that. I am sorry for these movies.


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