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Bollywood Loves Billy Wilder And How!

Abhishek Srivastava - 74 weeks ago

Lifting subject and story ideas without giving due credit to those concerned has been a practice that Bollywood has religiously followed for years. With the advent of social media though this practice has witnessed a southward trend but nonetheless it still exists in certain quarters. But one filmmaker which it seems Bollywood filmmakers find a special affinity for is Billy Wilder. As many as eight of his work has seen itself transformed into a Hindi version.

Some Like It Hot was remade in Hindi by director Narendra Bedi as Rafoo Chakkar starring Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh. Rishi Kapoor and Paintal stepped into the shoes of Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis for this comedy-on-the-run and one must say that both actors were pretty convincing. The film turned out to be a good adaptation of the original. Though Billy Wilder was nominated in the Best Director category for Some Like It Hot at the Oscars but it was the costume design team which took home the trophy. 

Bollywood saw its own version of Billy Wilder’s The Apartment in Anurag Basu’s Life In A Metro which released in 2007. This time too, the adaptation hit the bull’s eye at the box office as the film was lapped up by cinegoers. Out of the four stories, the one which features Kay Kay Menon making most of Sharman Joshi’s house for his clandestine rendezvous with Kangana was a straight lift from The Apartment. The film won five Oscars during the 33rd Academy Award which also included Best Direction for Billy Wilder. 

When released in 1951, Ace In The Hole had failed to find any connect with the audience and the failure of the film had made Billy go into depression. So dejected were mandarins of Paramount Pictures that as a last resort they even changed the name of the film to The Big Carnival to turnaround its fate. But 59 years later, this did not deter Aamir Khan from taking the challenge of incorporating elements of the film in Peepli Live. The small film from Aamir Khan’s banner proved to be pretty big at the box office. 

Billy Wilder’s Sabrina had a cast which could be a matter of envy for any filmmaker. Humphry Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and Wiliam Holden headlined the cast for Billy’s film while its Bollywood equivalent featured Akshay Kumar, Kajol and Saif Ali Khan. The film titled Yeh Dillagi was produced by Yash Chopra and was directed by his long term associate Naresh Malhotra. Yeh Dillagi was also the first film to exploit the jodi of Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan. The plot of two brothers falling for the same girl was an outright winner at the box office. 

So besotted was Shammi Kapoor with Billy Wilder’s Irma la Douce that he decided to make his directorial debut with the Hindi version of this Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine starrer romantic comedy. Manoranjan starring Sanjeev Kumar and Zeenat Aman, when released in 1974 proved to be a colossal failure at the box office. The love story of an upright cop and a prostitute had no takers at the box office. The only saving grace of the film was RD Burman’s lilting score. 

This time it was the turn of the champion of middle-class cinema, Basu Chatterjee to look West for inspiration and The Fortune Cookie turned out to be that film. Lakhon Ki Baat was heavily inspired by The Fortune Cookie and Sanjeev Kumar's performance in the role of an ambulance chasing lawyer was at par with Walter Matthau’s character from the original which also fetched him an Oscar in the Best Supporting Role category. Though Lakhon Ki Baat was a well-made film with powerful actors, it failed to create any flutter at the box office. 

It was Basu Chatterjee’s turn again to adapt another film of Billy Wilder. The Marilyn Monroe starrer The Seven Year Itch was remade as Gudgudee in 1997. The role of the sexy neighbour was played by Pratibha Sinha, daughter of yesteryear actress Mala Sinha while Anupam Kher stepped into the shoes of Tom Ewell. 

Jism was produced under the banner of Mahesh Bhatt and was heavily inspired from the 1944 release Double Indemnity. The plot of an alcoholic lawyer who helps the wife of a millionaire to murder her husband was an instant success and had inspiration plastered everywhere from Double Indemnity. The film also marked Bollywood debut of John Abraham and his very first film was tagged as a hit.


Some Like It Hot / The Apartment / Ace In The Hole / Sabrina / Irma La Douce / The Fortune Cookie / The Seven Year Itch / Rafoo Chakkar / Life In A Metro / Peepli Live / Yeh Dillagi / Manoranjan / Lakhon Ki Baat / Gudgudee / Basu Chatterjee / Shammi Kapoor / Rishi Kapoor / Billy Wilder

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of The Film Hashery.

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