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The Mockery Makers

By: Praveen Lance Fernandes, IndiaFM

Friday, May 26, 2006

Just last week, MTV under their banner of Fully Faltoo Films announced the release of a not so strangely titled film Ghoom. The film is an out an out spoof on one of 2004's biggest hits Dhoom. Probably a landmark in Indian cinema where a whole film is a parody of another, this film will see the light of day in theatres pretty soon;

Though this will be the first full-fledged spoof on another movie to release in India, it's not a new concept in Hollywood. A series of Scary Movies, Hot Shots, Spy Hards and Austin Powers have been made and most have proved to be box-office successes providing hearty entertainment to the audience. These films are made at a nominal budget and are usually hard core comical entertainers.

Sahara Entertainment wanted to start a trend of spoofs. They had started a film called Thakaan, a take on the Oscar nominated Aamir Khan starrer Lagaan. Having comedian Johnny Lever in the lead (playing Aamir's role), the film was completed but never saw light of day for unknown reasons. A hilarious promotion poster was released but somewhere something went wrong. Aamir Khan did not issue a no-objection certificate nor did he comment on the issue.

Incidentally, Sahara had planned a series of spoofs of popular films but none took off. In fact, they even got a no-objection certificate from Bharat Shah (the producer of Devdas) to make Bevdadas again starring Johnny Lever. There were plans for as many as 12 spoofs including ones for Dil Chahta Hai, Kaante, Sholay, etc. but they dropped their plans subsequently.

Many years ago (1974 to be precise) I.S. Johar made a comedy titled 5 Rifles which had duplicates of leading actors of that time. The actors were credited as Rakesh Khanna, Shahi Kapoor and Sev Anand. Now it was quite a funny thing for it's time. This might be recorded as one of the earliest spoofs in Indian cinema.

Sholay probably has had the most number of spoofs. There was Duplicate Sholay (2002) which featured on the same lines of the 1975 classic but had duplicates of Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol, Mithun Chakrovarthy and Anil Kapoor. A fun and non-sense of a film, it went without a trace mainly due to lack of promotion.

Ramgarh Ke Sholay (1991) had a typical Bollywood masala story with duplicates of Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Govinda and Dev Anand. The one thing common between this film and the original was that Amjad Khan played the role of Gabbar in both the films. The film was amusing and movie buffs still remember this flick as one entertaining movie.

Would anyone believe me if I told you that after the success of Sunny Deol's Gadar - Ek Prem Katha (2001) came Return of Gadar - Ek Desh Premi. The producers not only had similar posters of the original but also the hero of the parody was credited as Duplicate Sunny. Now, that's a laugh!

Apart from direct spoofs trying to capitalize on its predecessor's success, there have been a few movies which were a take on no particular movie but Bollywood in general.

Nagesh Kukunoor's Bollywood Calling (2001) was a hilarious take on the process of making a film in India. Om Puri playing a producer who has to eventually take up direction as well and Naveen Nischol playing a fading actor could split you in two with laughter. Then there was Piyush Jha's King of Bollywood (2004) again starring Om Puri. It was on similar lines as well where an ageing actor (Puri) still acts as a leading man despite having a son old enough to be a protagonist himself.

Then there were title spoofs as well. We all know about the Amitabh Bachchan - Govinda starrer Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998) but do we recall a B-grade quickie released by the name of Bade Nawab Chote Nawab. The interesting part is that both the original and spoof released on the same day. Perhaps the makers of the latter were trying to cash in on the hype build up on the original.

Then there was a duplicate Amitabh Bachchan posing in the posters of Kabhi Kranti Kabhi Jung (2004). Now we don't need to tell you of which movie title that was a take on. Having a number of duplicates in the film from Shahrukh to even Sachin Tendulkar, its non-sensical comedy didn't generate much hype.

Mahesh Manjrekar produced Pran Jaye Par Shaan Na Jaye (2003) had a bit of everything and so the really good parts got lost in the crowd. Director Sanjay Jha tried to spoof everything from Bollywood to politicians to underworld but couldn't pull off everything. There were a few scenes where the slow running of a couple towards each other is shown. A voiceover even says that the following scene will be a slow run shown in Hindi movies innumerable times. The problem with the film was that though it spoofed the cliches it even resorted to it. For example: Manjrekar himself comes in the end credits with Sushmita Sen for a spoof on item number claiming that it's the need of the hour.

Bharat Dhabolkar's God Only Knows (2004) was probably a crack on everything under the sky - from Bollywood to Sports to traffic signals.

Ram Gopal Varma does not really make spoofs but a lot of his films have a take on some other filmmaker. In his Company (2002), actor Neeraj Vora did a Karan Johar impression when he said 'It's all about loving your lovers.' This was a take on Karan Johar's tagline for Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham which said 'It's all about loving your parents.' In Road (2002), Manoj Bajpai makes a crack on Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Chandan Arora's Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon (2004) though not a full comedy had its moments. The film spoke about a girl wanting to make it big in Bollywood. Her debut has a hoard of duplicates including those of Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, etc. They all dance to the tunes of a spoof song with the lyrics being Kaho Naa Pyar Hai Ke Dil Chahta Hai.

In Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega (2001) actor Snehal Dhabi makes an announcement that he is going to produce a movie which would be directed by Sooraj-Aditya-Johar-Bhansali and the film will be called Hum Dilwalon Ko Bohut Kuch Hota Hai Sanam.

And more recently in Darna Zaroori Hai (2006), Anil Kapoor is a film-maker whose name is Karan Chopra (Karan Johar + Aditya Chopra), has an assistant Dharma (from Johar's Dharma productions) and has made a film titled Kabhi Kabhi Hota Hai (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum + Kuch Kuch Hota Hai).

There was also an instance where a character of one film has totally acted like somebody else. Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche (2001) had Rajpal Yadav playing Shahrukh Khan's character from Mohabbatein while his counterpart Jaspal Bhatti did an Amitabh.

Call it capitalizing on the predecessor's success, cheap thrills or non-innovative vision - spoofs can be entertaining. Wholesome or momentary entertainment depends on how well you pull it off. 

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