The amazingly well done 'Sairat' has become one of the most successful Marathi films this year. Featured in many International Film Festivals, the movie has gained immense critical praise as well as commercial success. So it's not surprising that a Hindi language remake of it is on the horizon. What's interesting though is who is doing the remake.
Karan Johar has apparently purchased the Hindi language rights to remake 'Sairat'.
The film is a very simple yet poignant tale of the innocence of love, the harshness of a mature relationship, and all the consequences that come with and without. It's a story about a young boy and girl from different social classes, set in rural India, with new inexperienced actors in the lead roles, and a simplicity of storytelling that enhances the dramatic impact.
While Karan Johar and his Dharma Productions are one of Bollywood's biggest and most respected film studios, there are many reasons why a Bollywood remake of 'Sairat' is a bad idea. Especially if done by Johar.
Commercialization The Film
'Sairat' was great for many reasons, one of which was the way the story unfolded on screen in an unassuming manner. While the story was very simple, the execution of it on screen was even simpler. No embellished framing of shots, no exotic locales or decadent sets for the stars to be lavished on. The subtlety of the tone and look of the film perfectly suited the subtlety of the performances and tenacity of the story.
With a wholly Bollywood spotlight on it, the film may lose that simplistic charm, and become a bright and glossy finished product lacking in the realism the original was so effective in conveying. Given Johar's most recent productions being similarly polished, like 'Baar Baar Dekho' or 'Kapoor & Sons', the same visual effect for 'Sairat' would be undermining the over all tone of the story.
'Sairat' featured completely inexperienced new actors to make the audience lose themselves in their story and journeys. While the job of an actor is to make you believe that they are different people from film to film, as is the nature of movies themselves, there are certain times when that disconnect of the actor from the character, becomes complicated. This is especially true in star-driven culture like Bollywood, where almost every aspect of movie-making is modified to suit the actor, and not the other way around.
If the Bollywood remake of 'Sairat' features known actors, or rather stars, then the new-ness of the characters and their love story gets lost within that Hindi translation. Seasoned actors that we've seen multiple times in many different avatars donning the guise of these characters, may not be anything different than the variations of love stories we may have already seen them in. It very well may become just another Bollywood love story.
While no official cast for the 'Sairat' remake has been announced, insiders say that Johar's own muse Alia Bhatt may be in the running for the role played by Rinku Rajguru in the original. I personally feel that this would be a mistake.
My last concern with remaking 'Sairat' in Bollywood is a truly simple one; the story. 'Sairat' was different and innovative for its complete lack of sub plots or any other significant characters than the two lead characters played by Akash Thosar and Rinku Rajguru. While there are definitely supporting actors around them, they all exist to literally do just that; support the leads, with no significance of their own in the story, and no influence over what happens.
When remade into Bollywood, I feel that the writers would be compelled to add layers to the story with additional characters, casting other stars to boost the name-value of the film, along with complicated subplots, which I feel will completely take away from why 'Sairat' was revolutionary.
While a more layered and nuanced story with various other characters may not necessarily be a bad thing, it may end up rendering the film completely unrecognizable from 'Sairat'. In which case, why even remake the film in the first place?
A Different Filmmaker
While I'm not entirely against a 'Sairat' remake in principle, I'm just more concerned with Karan Johar remaking it, as it's not the kind of movie that we usually associate with him. Now if Phantom Films, the production company of Anurag Kashyap was producing the remake, I would be less worried. Or even if it was a director like Prakash Jha. Even going as far as the usually upbeat Yash Raj Films studios, who have proven themselves as being producers of hard hitting dramas that 'Sairat' can be likened to, instead of the glossy Dharma Productions.
All my concerns aside, in fairness there have been many Hindi remakes of other regional films which have been great. I haven't seen the originals, so I can't really speak towards how good or bad the Hindi version was compared to the original, but they've gotten both critical and commercial acclaim nonetheless.
Similarly, the Hindi version of 'Sairat' may turn out to be a great movie. If this is the movie that Dharma Productions decides to branch out with into a different genre of films, like the one-off in 'Agneepath' , then it may be a worthy adaptation of the original. Especially if Karan Johar uses the opportunity to actually launch a new pair of actors for the film, given that the movie already has the backing of being a remake of an already successful film.
But maybe not star kids this time.
How do you feel about a possible Hindi remake of 'Sairat' from Karan Johar?