In this series, we look at remakes of Hindi films in Hindi cinema—both the official and the ‘closet’ variety—to see how they stand vis-a-vis the originals. This time we look at the cult film Karz.
In 1976, a Hollywood film, The Reincarnation Of Peter Proud, did fair business in India. It was the story of a man troubled by inexplicable nightmares, who discovers that he had been victim of a brutal murder in his past birth. Soon, he is able to trace his past identity and find the woman who killed him. He plans a strategy to expose her—and she murders him as well!
Subhash Ghai, who decided to adapt the idea to the Indian screen as a musical thriller, made a very important change—the killer had to be punished, with a happy ending for the hero. Ghai, then two action film hits old as a director, launched his now-famous banner of Mukta Arts (then called Mukta Films) in 1978 to be able to make this film with complete creative freedom, and turned the hero into a pop singer to ensure what soon became his forte—great music.
Two choices were obvious: the only young musical hero then was Rishi Kapoor, and the only composers who had both the range and the commercial standing were Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Ghai thus went against type as pop was considered the domain of R.D. Burman.
The visionary Ghai shot in Cinemascope (a rarity then) and put in a lot of effort in his songs, making a trip to London to watch live pop shows and watch videocassettes that had then not come to India.
Om shanti Om, India’s first song in 4-track Stereophonic Sound, was filmed on the giant gramophone record set created at RK Studios. The casting—of Raj Kiran as Rishi in his previous birth and Simi Garewal as the scheming murderess as well as Tina Munim, Pran, Premnath and Durga Khote— were pitch-perfect. Released in 1980, the film did average business, but soon attained its current cult status.
Of course, the success story of the music was spectacular from the beginning. The score won a Gold Disc and a prestigious Best Music award. Dard-e-dil became Mohammed Rafi’s last chartbuster in his lifetime, Ek hasina thi and Paisa yeh paisa became major hits, and Main solah baras ki was also popular. Om shanti om, of course, led the charts, and all these five hits later became titles for newer films, along with Aashiq Banaya Aapne, the last three words of Dard-e-dil’s ‘mukhda’.
Om Shanti Om thus became the title of Farah Khan’s ingenious Karz-inspired film in 2007. The plot was smartly tweaked: a junior artiste Om (essayed by Shah Rukh Khan) is in love with a superstar, Shanti (Deepika Padukone). Soon Shanti is murdered by an evil filmmaker, and eyewitness Om dies in an accident. In their next births, the new Om (this time looking identical) is the superstar and Shanti is Sandy, who helps Om in his vendetta.
The film openly paid a tribute to Karz by showing its Om shanti om song sequence as the one on which the first Om had been a junior artiste! The song Dastaan-e-om shanti om was clearly inspired by the climax number Ek hasina thi from Karz and sung by Shaan with a resonant Kishore Kumar-like timbre.
What’s more, Pyarelal, the surviving half of the original L-P duo, was called to arrange the song Dhoom tana composed by Vishal-Shekhar, but strangely never given official credit for it!
Karz was also officially remade (as Karzzzz!) a year later by T-Series with the blessings of Subhash Ghai, but flopped miserably. With Himesh in Rishi’s character and Urmila playing Simi’s role, the film even re-created the song Ek hasina thi. But it flopped badly, also thanks in part to the SRK hit that had released only months before!
Om Shanti Om became the biggest hit of 2007, and it also took inspiration from two other films. Its star-studded song Deewangi deewangi was visually inspired by John Jani Janardhan from the 1981 blockbuster Naseeb (also composed by L-P), while the climax was clearly taken from the much-remade blockbuster, the 1958 Madhumati.
But that’s another Remake story.
– 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