As Selfiee, Shehzada tank at box office, should Hindi films stay away from remakes?


The Hindi remakes of South films haven’t been a happy space for Bollywood in recent times. While Shehzada unsuccessfully tried recreating the magic of Allu Arjun’s Telugu hit, Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, Akshay Kumar‘s recently released Selfiee was a rehash of Prithviraj Sukumaran’s 2019 Malayalam hit, Driving Licence. Both the films tanked badly at the box office that has raised uncertainty on the trend of remaking films. In such a scenario, has the Bollywood remake formula of South films run of steam? We talk to trade experts to find out.


Amul V Mohan, film producer and trade analyst, feels there are several reasons behind this. He said, “Sometimes, the audience in general has consumed the film in different capacities, in their own language. This has been the case with Shehzada. Sometimes, the subject matter doesn’t really resonate with the overall which can be the case with Akshay Kumar’s Selfiee. Sometimes it can work in your favour when you don’t have the South version of the film out, and it has a limited OTT release which was the case with Drishyam 2. That being said, that sub-genre of remaking films of other languages in the country is dead. It is not something to write home about.

Trade analyst Akshaye Rathi added, “While Selfiee and Shehzada tanked, it was pretty recent that we saw Drishyam 2 working pretty well. It is not a juggle generic that remakes aren’t going to work at all. It is how you adapt to the story to give more value to the story. The exposure of audience to the streaming platforms is also a factor. They are now used to watching content that are made in the original language. It’s not just South but films of other languages too like Spanish, English, French, etc. People are accessing that content and watching it. To be able to succeed at a remake, you need to add a lot more value to the storytelling style.”


During the Covid-19 pandemic, the OTT platforms saw a great boom which broke the North-South divide. Trade analyst Taran Adarsh said, “Due to OTT and social media, people have already watched most of the content. Earlier in the 80s when Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna or Amitabh Bachchan used to do remakes, there was not much awareness. But in today’s time, there is a lot of awareness about films. People have watched them on OTT or YouTube. That curiosity is over. That excitement to watch a brand-new film is over because you already know what it is all about. It gets killed if you remake films as it is because of this awareness. That is why people think twice before watching a remake.”

People have watched the original version on OTT and on satellite. Also, stars like Allu Arjun and Vijay Sethupathi enjoy a separate fan base in the North. So, people do not show interest in going to theatres to watch a remake.” He observed that the presence of subtitles is a huge disadvantage to remakes. “On OTT platforms, South films are available in multiple languages. Also, there is theatre fatigue among people. Hence, people do not throng to the theatres to watch remakes,” he explained.

Amul Mohan added, “You need to have a simple conversation on how was the content previously consumed. Allu Arjun’s Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, which was remade to Shehzada, was consumed by a lot of audience. It was available freely to all of them. Masses had already consumed it so who would even go for Shehzada. That was the problem. As for Selfiee, probably the audience were not looking for something like that and that was clear. Selfiee had everything a film needs, but it did not have what the audience needed, so they didn’t turn up.”


Akshaye Rathi feels that the size and scale of a movie should be huge enough to ensure that the film is a success. “The films that succeeded before the pandemic had a good production value. It has to be enough. After the pandemic, the ask for people to go to theatres have become much bigger. You need to give them something with scale, a good production value and a more cinematic storytelling. That will make them come to theatres more. Movies that are more drama ridden need a lot of meat. Filmmakers and even actors should work on this very carefully,” he said.


Taran Adarsh feels that not just the remake trend, but weak content of the two films also led to their failure. “Both Shehzada and Selfiee were weak films. I would not just blame the remake trend. Both films were very weak in content and that is majorly why they bombed at the box office,” he said.


Taran Adarsh said, “There are so many stories that need to be told so why not. We can make larger-than-life films without even resorting to a remake. We should make our original films.”

Akshaye Rathi gave a mixed view saying, “I am a huge fan of originals and I really think we need to tell stories of our own. But then to write off the idea of remakes wouldn’t be good either. So yes, we need to primarily tell stories of our own and create our originals. But apprehension towards the South remakes are a bit premature.”

Amul Mohan added, “I don’t think that is going to be the case as there are several such projects under production right now. So, the remake culture is still alive. I don’t think they should stay away. It all depends on how you mount the film, what you take from the original and how much you add on it and build on it. These are the different elements once should take care of. It will have a certain kind of in with the audience.”


mul Mohan added to it saying, “Drishyam worked because it is a great film, it’s a franchise. The original was also not easily available, and it didn’t even make its way to theatres. It was released straight on OTT. It’s also a well-made film. It really worked in the filmmakers’ benefits.”

Taran Adarsh said, “Drishyam 2 had solid drama. It had a very captivating story and a certain brand value. This is something both Selfiee and Shehzada lacked. They didn’t have strong drama or captivating performances to keep you glued.”

Bollywood filmmakers should focus on original entertainment, and the massive success of Pathaan is an example of that. For now, Ajay Devgn’s Bhola (remake of Tamil film Kaithi) and Salman Khan’s Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan (Hindi remake of Tamil film, Veeram), among others, are in the works. It remains to be seen how they fare at the ticket windows now.