Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Because Indian cinema reflects multiple styles, cultures, and languages, successful films in one market are often remade in others.
Here is a look at an original and the remakes:
Original - Pokiri
Description: Telugu action thriller. "Once I commit myself, I'll never back off." Pandu (Mahesh Babu) is one of the ruthless gangsters in Hyderabad who will do anything if paid the right price. Two warring gangs use his services alternately. Pandu meets and falls in love with aerobics instructor Sruthi (Ileana D'Cruz) yet prefers to distance himself, conscious of the implications of his crime ridden life. Sruthi loves Pandu, but hesitates to confess her love to him. When the the kingpin Ali Bhai (Prakash Raj) comes town, he finds Pandu's arrogance unpalatable. Pandu refuses to toe the line under Ali Bhai and their conflict leads to a spectacular climax that brings about some startling revelations about Pandu.
Remake 1 - Pokkiri
Description: Tamil action thriller. "Once decided, I'll not back off." This version features Tamil (Vijay) and takes place in Tamil Nadu. The role of love interest and aerobics instructor Shruthi is played by Asin. While it follows pretty much the same storyline as the Telugu version, there are significant differences with Prabhu Deva at the helm - one being that Prabhu Deva has a cameo in the introductory dance number with Vijay. This hero explains, "You are rowdy by profession. I am born rowdy." Police Inspector L. Govindh (Mukesh Tiwari) is particularly creepy.
Remake 2 - Wanted
Description: Hindi crime action thriller. "Once I commit myself to something, I don't listen to myself even." This version leverages the star power of Salman Khan as Radhe, the hardcore gangster who will do anything for money. This Radhe is arrogant and willing to talk smack to anyone. He takes every opportunity to show indifference to those who claim power around him. As someone who is smitten with Jhanvi (Ayesha Takia), he is unrelenting in protecting her even if it is from himself. From the start you sense that this story was filmed with entertainment in mind with the appearances of superstars Anil Kapoor, Govinda and Prabhu Deva in the song "Jalwa". And yes, Salman Khan finds an opportunity to go shirtless.
Why I Love These Films: Mahesh Babu does a great job in the original Pokiri establishing the character, including his idiosyncracies that are carried over into the remakes. The storyline in the original gives more attention to two minor storylines: first, the role of the media in promoting negative stories that harm innocent people; and second, the treatment of the poor. The storyline is revised a bit in the Prabhu Deva Tamil and Hindi versions. In the Tamil version Pokkiri, Vijay adds several small humorous moments that reflect his sense of humor and allow us to make a personal connection with the criminal. Also, the dialogue in Pokkiri fleshes out the storyline a bit more than either the Telugu or Hindi versions which assume some knowledge is inherent to audiences. Salman Khan's Radhe is cocky, arrogant and defiant. This bigger-than-life hero's disgust with those who claim power without earning it is palpable. After watching all three versions, my favorite is the Tamil Pokkiri for overall casting, story, and performances.
- Prakash Raj played the top villain in all three films. He was nominated for a Vijay Award for Best Villain for his performance in the Tamil version, Pokkiri.
But wait, there's more. However, this version is harder to find.
English title: "Kingdom"
Director: Iftakar Chowdhury
Music by: Adit Ozbert
Description: Bengali crime action thriller. One of the highest grossing Dhallywood films of 2014, though based on Pokiri, this version stands apart from the rest for its divergent storyline. Somrat (Shakib Khan) is a killer for hire, and will accept any contract provided the amount is right. The Police want him for questioning, while the underworld needs him to silence their opponents. No one really knows this assassin's background. It is only Somrat who knows his real identity and he has no intention of sharing it with anyone.
If you liked this, check out our other Bollywood Remakes posts.