In this series, we look at remakes of Hindi films in Hindi cinema—both the official and the ‘closet’ variety—to assess how they stand vis-a-vis the originals.
The 1979 Gol Maal was the second of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s three successful comedies on ‘reforming’ eccentric elders—after Chupke Chupke and before Khubsoorat.
The eccentric old man here was the feisty Bhavani Shankar (Utpal Dutt) with traditional values, who hates youth wearing modern attire. Though a sports fan, he feels that the youth should not be interested in sports at all but must concentrate on their aspirations. His biggest quirk is his pathological hatred for men without moustaches, as he believes that such people lack character!
The film is about his hilarious conflict with Ramprasad (Amol Palekar), who, because he needs a job, must sport a moustache, suppress his craze for sports, and ditch his trendy clothes for a dhoti-kurta. When Bhawani spots Ramprasad at a hockey match after the young man has asked for leave as his mother is ill, the latter has to think quickly and ‘create’ a duplicate brother Lucky, who wears modern clothes, is a sports enthusiast and does not have a moustache!
Now Lucky too is hired to teach music to Bhawani’s daughter Urmila (Bindiya Goswami). And Ramprasad has the time of his life switching identities, even as Urmila falls for Lucky but barely notices Ramprasad!
Dr. Rahi Masoom Reza’s witty ‘dialogues’ for all characters were a highlight, but the scene-stealer was Utpal Dutt, etching his funniest turn ever. Amol Palekar was fantastic, and the silver jubilee hit soon became a cult classic.
Apart from four Southern remakes, elements of this film were incorporated by David Dhawan in the 1995 Coolie No. 1 (Govinda pretending to be two contrasting characters for his eccentric father-in-law Kader Khan). But it took Rohit Shetty, the master entertainer, to pay tribute to the original classic—twice over!
In 2006, he directed the success Golmaal-Fun Unlimited, using the olds title as well as a sentence from the 1979 film’s title song, “Golmaal hai bhai sab golmaal hai (it’s all a con game)!” in the background at frequent intervals. Though the plot had nothing to do with the original, its success made Rohit create a franchise with progressive success—Golmaal Returns, the 2008 hit, and the 100-crore-plus Diwali 2010 blockbuster Golmaal 3.
After this, Rohit actually fashioned the crazy Bol Bachchan from the core idea of the 1979 original, and again crossed the 100 crore mark.
Rohit’s reworking was sparklingly innovative. Ajay Devgn (also the co-producer) himself became the 2012 version of Bhawani—the rich toughie Prithviraj, with a fetish for speaking what he assumes is perfect English, and a severe hatred for liars. Abbas (Abhishek Bachchan) needs a job and due to a certain incident has to call himself by a Hindu name— Abhishek Bachchan! Then when Prithviraj sees him celebrating Idd one day, Abbas has to pretend that he is Abhishek’s effeminate but Muslim classical dancer twin, Abbas, with the religious disparity coming from family issues!
Abbas begins to teach dance to Prithviraj’s sister Radhika (Prachi Desai), who knows the truth and pretends to love Abbas and not Abhishek. Rohit also created a sister for Abbas, Sania (Asin), who is the spitting image of Prithviraj’s lost love, Apeksha. The hilarious twists and turns also included an ingenious tribute to the original Gol Maal by showing a crucial scene from it (on Prithviraj’s television) as the first cause of suspicion about Abbas-Abhishek being one person, not two!
Rohit’s rib-tickling humour and Farhad-Sajid’s wonderfully witty lines ensured a side-splitting comedy with the director, as per his forte, working in spectacular action as well. Bol Bachchan was a superb example of smart inspiration.
Finally, there was an interesting coincidence—Amitabh Bachchan essayed a cameo in both films!
– Rajiv Vijayakar, a Senior Journalist, Film & Music Critic and Historian for Hindi cinema and Film Music is also an Author and Twice Jury Member at 58th and 62nd National Film Awards.
Rajiv Vijayakar tweets @rajivvijayakar
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