Do you think these classics should be remade?
Remake-fever is a horrible thing. Recently, we've heard that Rohit Shetty -- he who took the title of a truly great comedy and made it into a franchise both successful and increasingly painful -- is remaking Gulzar's Angoor, with Shah Rukh Khan, Tusshar Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor in the lead roles. Quite clearly, this has disaster written all over it.
There are certain films that are just not possible to remake, forget ambition and ethics. Films that capture a rare kind of magic, films where the improvisation just clicks, films where an actor hits a peak he never again matched, films where the dialogues just dance their way to greatness, and hardcore quotability. The press release announcing the cast and crew foolhardy enough to dare remake a film like that is likely much funnier than the end result.
Here, then, are 10 comedies the current crop of Bollywood directors better leave alone:
Not just did Hrishikesh Mukherjee's perfect comedy have a phenomenal cast of A-listers -- Dharmendra in top form, Sharmila Tagore an absolute joy, Jaya Bhaduri at her most wonderfully clueless and Amitabh Bachchan in what I consider his best screen performance -- but every single bit player contributed marvellously, right down to the thief who generously returns the alarm clock to Dharmendra while wishing him luck.
An exquisite comedy of manners built around the Hindi language itself, this remains one to cherish over and over again, and a fantastic way to remember the late, genial Om Prakash.
Any modern day filmmaker trying to even touch it should have his clock cleaned.
Image: Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan and Sharmila Tagore in Chupke Chupke
Opinions are divided as to which of the two Hrishida films is better. But this story of a man pretending to be his own twin brother is every bit as strong a contender.
Utpal Dutt, in a screenstealing role as an archaic, moustache-loving dictator (who also happens to enjoy nariyal laddus and the odd game of hockey), is impossible to replace. As are leading man Amol Palekar, Shobha Khote and Keshto Mukherjee, the latter winkingly offering Dutt a swig of selfmade hooch.
Image: Amol Palekar in Golmaal
Andaz Apna Apna
Sometimes something quite miraculous happens in a comedy, when everything comes together far better than conceived. Actors soar over the situations, dialogues play off each other in a hilarious tango, and everyone -- from Teja to Raabert to Crimemaster GoGo -- gladly gives themselves over to the farce.
One of the most quotable Hindi films of all time, this loud, noisy -- and yet, perfect -- comedy is truly one of a kind.
Aamir and Salman Khan are both still around and delivering grand successes, but none is as incredibly unaffected as they were when they made this film. It's the best performance of Salman's career and Aamir rocks his role hard. This is the one their grandkids ought be proudest about.
Image: Aamir Khan and Salman Khan in Andaz Apna Apna
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
There's a reason this small 1983 film remains our only real dark comedy: it happened almost entirely by accident.
Kundan Shah's script was wilder and crazier, there was improvisation both on the sets and on Renu Saluja's editing table, and everything just somehow stuck. It was like an alchemical explosion that can't be replicated, no matter how hard anybody tries.
The lunacy in JBDY is real and glorious, and any attempts to recapture or imitate it will only result in egg -- or, if very lucky, bright pink cake -- on the face.
Image: Ravi Baswami and Naseeruddin Shah in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
Mehmood and Kishore Kumar crossing ragas as rival classical singing madmen. Saira Banu as a stunning, insanely sexy heroine with a pout to kill for. And Sunil Dutt as the confirmed bachelor falling helplessly in love with the woman lighting up the window across from his own.
This zany comedy has its raggedy edges -- the start is particularly rocky -- but when it works, it's absolutely magical.
Hell, even imagining anyone other than Kishoreda doing O Meri Pyari Bindu seems unholy.
Image: Sunil Dutt and Kishore Kumar in Padosan
Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi
Right from the Ganguly brothers going full-on cuckoo to the sublime sight of a goddess coming into a garage to shield herself from rain, this is a classic comedy impossible to resist.
Ashok, Anoop and Kishore Kumar Ganguly play off each other so insanely well their schtick seems both rehearsed to perfection as well as almost-completely improvised.
Out there trying to remake this? Well, good luck finding another Madhubala.
Image: Madhubala and Kishore Kumar in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi
Sai Paranjpe's quintessential slacker film saw Ravi Baswani, Rakesh Bedi and Farooque Shaikh play Delhi University roommates sharing everything from allowance to cigarettes to their affections for a pretty new neighbour. This being, of course, Deepti Naval, a heiress who enthusiastically hawks detergent powder door to door. Marvellous stuff.
A wildly imaginative film with striking performances -- from the leads, and Saeed Jaffrey's paanwallah Lallan Mia -- this modest masterpiece continues to resonate staggeringly real.
Image: Rakesh Bedi, Ravi Baswani, Farooque Shaikh and Deepti Naval in the film poster of Chashm-e-Buddoor
In this Bombay dramedy, Paranjpe cast her actors spectacularly untrue to type, with Naseeruddin Shah as a simpleton working in advertising and Farooque Sheikh as a selfish, silvertongued conman hungry for more of whatever he sees.
The film is also a delightfully pleasant take on life and community in a Bombay chawl -- as opposed to a slum.
The dry wit, the acting, the unhurried narrative: all of it seems so out of place in today's Bollywood.
Image: Farooque Shaikh and Naseeruddin Shah in Katha
Do Aur Do Paanch
Not an immaculate comedy by any standard, this Rakesh Kumar film nevertheless boasts of two leading men in sensational form, showing off crackling chemistry as they pretend to be teachers at a boarding school only to kidnap a poor little rich kid.
Throw in two gorgeous women -- perplexed and pretty in equal measure -- and a killer soundtrack, and you have a film that redefines repeat viewing.
Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor play off each other fantastically, and their romances -- with Parveen Babi and Hema Malini -- are just as much fun. Bachchan's hilarious attempts to constantly confound Parveen by making up a childhood friend named Suresh.
Image: Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan in Do Aur Do Paanch
Yes, it's on the list. How can it not be, really?
Gulzarsaab's delicious adaptation of Shakespeare's A Comedy Of Errors never fails to hammer the funny bone hard, and the nuances -- from the amazingly quotable words to the subtle actors -- are sheer magic. Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Verma are excellent, without question, but the ladies -- Aruna Irani and Moushumi Chatterjee -- are just as vital in this delicately written comic classic.
No, it can't and shouldn't be remade. Start petitions, hoist placards, and send your hatemail to the stars. This is a project that just doesn't deserve to get off the ground, no matter how many A-listers come aboard. Leave these glorious grapes alone, please.
Image: Sanjeev Kapoor and Moushumi Chatterjee in Angoor