Remaking an Amitabh Bachchan film is
Blasphemy 101. Like Shah Rukh Khan
showed with his unintelligent Don and Ram
Gopal Varma with his iconically bad Aag,
nobody should try and remake a Big B movie.
Not even Bachchan. The reason is that
Bachchan, in his element, remains impossible
This 1979 Yash Chopra film, modeled by
Salim-Javed on Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim,
featured Bachchan as a coward, a Merchant
Navy deserter hated by society. In one of his
best performances, Bachchan stewed in his
own guilt and carried the film squarely on his
shoulders — only for Chopra to opt for a more
conventional masala ending, killing the film
in the process.
This Yash Chopra film is an absolute triumph, a masterpiece ahead of its
time. Mainstream cinema had never confronted the extramarital affair
with such stark honesty and genuine sympathy. The protagonists were real,
as were their relationships. Yet that end left a disappointing taste in the
mouth, as a plane-crash made all the characters suddenly return to the
folds of the marriages they’d left behind. Shame, really.
Who should make it: Nobody. From the performances to the music and
the writing, Chopra’s team is impossible to replicate. But as long as we are
thinking wishfully, it’d be quite something to have an alternate version, a
Silsila Redux, so to speak, with that plane crash ending edited out. That
classic deserves to end with the murky, messy ambiguity it promises.
Saif Ali Khan, right, could pull off Amitabh Bachchan’s intense role in Kala Patthar
Great Gambler This wonderful pulp potboiler, also from 1979, remains one of Bachchan’s most entertaining actioners. Shakti Samanta might have gone overboard with his caricatured villains, but that’s all part of the fun in this campy — yet so, so cool — classic. In a wonderful double role, Bachchan played Jai the gambler and Inspector Vijay, the cop trying to capture him. Who should make it: Sriram Raghavan. There’s enough meat in the plot for our only thriller-maker to sink his teeth in, and he’d have a blast with codes and henchmen and cabaret dancers.
A scene from the 1979 potboiler, featuring Bachchan and Zeenat Aman on a Venetian gondola
Only the climax of Silsila can be improved
Shah Rukh Khan, right, as Shahenshah will be intriguing
It’s always flummoxed me as to why Jaya Bachchan, art
house darling hailed from a very literary family, would write
this vigilante vehicle for her husband. One can’t argue with
the hit status, but this story of a cop graying his hair and
asthmatically delivering ‘who’s your daddy’ lines seems
almost like a sadistic in-joke, timed especially when
Bachchan was doing anything but acting his age.
Who should make it: Anyone, as long as Shah Rukh Khan’s
in the lead. This script isn’t ever really going to be
a good movie, but it’ll be fantastic so-bad-it’s-good fun to
have Khan in a B-movie, wheezing out the lines in his own
way. Shahenshah with a stutter? Bring it on.