The Tale of Two Films…A Good “Bad” Original and its Bad “Bad” Remake

When non-Indians ask for masala Bollywood film choices, I tell them to start with Sholay, then try Amar Akbar Anthony or Yaadon ki Baarat and finally Himmatwala.

1983. We had just finished a brain-squeezing exam and 30 of us wanted to leave those brains behind and watch a “bad” Hindi film. Himmatwala playing at Badal/Bijlee was the perfect choice. Mr. Jeetendra was a joke those days. No one had heard of Ms. Sridevi. Mr. Kadar Khan and Mr. Shakti Kapoor were also pretty much unknown. The director was some “Madrasi”. How could it fail to be bad!

And what fun we 18-19 years old had! It started with our first view of Ms. Sridevi and her thunder thighs…and from then on we just went berserk. Himmatwala was a bad film. But it was and still is perhaps the best of its genre…a great “bad” film.

When I read that Mr. Sajid Khan was going to recreate this good “bad” film, I promised myself I would see it the first weekend itself. In anticipation last month, I re-watched the 1983 version of this cult film. I was quite confident that Mr. Sajid Khan would do something terribly nice with this material, based on the awfully successful tripe his previous work has been and the couple of  “remake” genes he probably shares with his sister, Ms. Farah Khan, who made a reasonably entertaining Om Shanti Om based on Karz.

On Tuesday night before the Holi holiday, I was out with some school-friends. I told them how much I wanted to watch the new Himmatwala and we made plans for the weekend. I explained why this film was so important and what a landmark the original had been…it had spawned a whole generation of terrible “Southie” masala films like Tohfa, Justice Chaudhary, Masterji and the like, which for quite some time changed the dynamics of the Hindi film industry.

And then it all unraveled. The kids had exams the next week and were not going to be free. I had to travel over the weekend and could not make it with my school-friends. I thought of catching the Friday night show after work, but the cousins I went out for dinner with were not interested.

By Friday evening, the first online reviews started rolling in. And instead of the good “bad” film it was supposed to be, it turned out to be a bad, really bad, “bad” film. No one, not one person seemed to find anything redeeming. Then came the mainstream reviews on Saturday morning. And by Saturday evening, the feeling of wanting to watch Himmatwala 2013 was gone. Squashed…the scales fallen from my eyes…the way you feel after the girl you have proposed to not says no, and then looking at her again, you wonder why you asked her in the first place!

A similar letdown happened when Mr. Ramu made his version of Sholay. I was excited about the re-interpretation, but couldn’t make it to the theatre the first weekend and then never had the courage to. A few months back, shored up by some Macallan, I finally inserted the DVD…I couldn’t watch it beyond the first 30 minutes, despite the wet, woozy, emotional support of the single malt. One day in the future, I will similarly try to go through Himmatwala 2013…and hope it will be a shade better than RGV Ki Aah, sorry Aag.

This is the ultimate sacrilege! Reviewing a film without even having watched it! But then, a masochist, I am not!

17 Comments

  • jamna varadhachary wrote:

    I read somewhere that this is not a film for the ones who read reviews. Not having watched the old Himmatwala I am no one to judge. But they do say it will cover the costs in single screen and in smaller towns.

  • Actually the old himmatwala was a bad bad movie.. It was stupid, crass and idiotic.I had actually thought that the re interpretation would be good. Devgan is definitely better than Jitendra. So I am also surprised that it is soooooo bad. How can it be worse than the original.But,like you I have no derise to inflict pain on self. I missed the first weekend and that’s that. …

  • whenever i am feeling low and not wanting to live…i watch these bad bad movies,which bring a smile on my face to see the guts of these film makers who really enjoy and mind it, they are seriously working hard on such movies…
    It really gives me the boost to enjoy life without taking things serious…’mind it’

  • sriganesh wrote:

    Why spoil single malts with crappy movies?

  • sunil kamath wrote:

    This’piece’ was indeed Nostalgic..and it was Nice trip down Memory lane…

    My compliments to U, for having put up excellently Ur views, which I am sure does not differ from the youth from that era..I for one concur with in Totality.

    As far as remakes are concerned, I personally believe that they should NEVER be attempted – Period.

    The Remakes can never do justice to the ‘original’.. Good or bad..

    I am reminded of the time, when I committed “Harakiri’ when I booked tickets for Shahrukh Khan’s ‘DON’… It was very NAUSEATING to say the least..The original ‘Don’ starring the Big B was a ‘cult’ film and I may Please be excused..But the Big B’s ‘DON’ was ROYALLY Raped..by Shahrukh Khan & Co…

    And as far as Ram Gopal Verma is concerned…It is high time that, someone tells him and that too in no uncertain terms…that, he take up some other business other Film Making..

  • Shubhojit wrote:

    By the way,I am sure you know Bhavin that Sajid Nadiadwala is from Bosco’s (1982). Possibly you can blame it on that or maybe you can watch it becaiuse of that !

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Sajid Khan and Sajid Nadiadwala are two different people.

  • sunil kamath wrote:

    LOL .. !!

    SANTA WENT WITH HIS FAMILY 2 WATCH ‘HIMMATWALLA’.

    SANTA’S WIFE JEETO – WHY DO U KEEP CLAPPING..?? IT’S SUCH A LOUSY MOVIE..!!

    SANTA – TO STAY AWAKE .. !!

    LO KAR LO BAAT .. !!

  • V.Subramanian wrote:

    For reviewing a film even without watching it,you are really a “Himmatwalla”

  • Chandrashekar wrote:

    Looks like a deep bias against ” Madrasi/ Southie. You are Matungaman, and must have interacted several times with your Madrasis. You have to note that the Southie leading ladies have ruled Hindi films from the time of Vyjayantimala to Vidya Balan. How do you presume that a film from South has to be bad, when most Hindi stars run to the South production houses as they are more professionally managed and also pay better.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    All tongue-in-cheek

  • Chandrashekar wrote:

    Maybe. But still in bad taste.

  • I totally agree with you.

  • Ajay Bhonsle wrote:

    Now it is turning into ‘southies’ Vs ‘Northies’debate(since all non southies are so termed)! Let us accept Janak’s ‘tongue in cheek’ explanation and end this discussion as this topic really does not warrant any of us wasting our time on it.

  • Great post as usual, Mr Bhavin! Loved the way u wrote about both the films without even seeing one of them. But on second thoughts, I wished u had seen the new Himmatwala. I had seen the old one and the promos of the new one (the tiger, 80s dialoguebaazi, gaav ka mandir et al) and I knew what to expect. And I had a fairly good time, though the film has some glitches here and there.

    Many have hated the film…the moviegoing audiences I mean. As for critics, it was expected they won’t like it. Most of these reviewers, as per my observation, generally follow the ‘if-its-commercial-masala-film-we-should-thrash-it-and-if-its-an-anurag-kashyap-or-dibakar-banerjee-film-it-has-to-be-nice mantra! Critics blasted Rowdy Rathore but I had a great time watching it. I mean, I have a taste for such films. If u also do, who knows, u mite end up having a good time watching Himmatwala!

    Do read my take, if time permits: http://fenilandbollywood.com/2013/03/30/movie-review-himmatwala-by-fenil-seta/

    And LOL @ ‘the way you feel after the girl you have pro­posed to not says no, and then look­ing at her again, you won­der why you asked her in the first place’ 😛

    Keep rocking!

    FENIL

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    I will see it but on DVD

  • Himmatwala is an average film, definately not bad as some critics (self-appointed) want us to believe.
    Times of India gave it two and half stars and its sister publication, Mumbai Mirror gave it only half a star, that too on the same day itself !! So much for the credibility of the critics !
    I noticed some consistent effort on the part of these so-called critics to tear down Sajid Khan and paint him in black for reasons other than the true merit of the film! This business of reviewing Hindi films has become a dirty one and one can never take a rewiew at its face value.

    Phiroze Lilaowala / 14-04-13

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