‘Mr India’ remake controversy: Makers of the iconic film have made a mockery of the entire issue with their whataboutery
Renowned film director Shekhar Kapur’s iconic film ‘Mr India‘ has given us some of the most loved and cherished characters of Indian cinema. This Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Amrish Puri starrer rightfully earned the iconic status and its dialogues and characters are still fresh in every cinephile’s mind. It’s undoubtedly one of the greatest Indian films of all time. I am sure several people like me are emotionally invested in it. And I don’t know about you, but if someone asks me to introduce them to Hindi cinema, ‘Mr India’ would be the first film I would recommend to them.
Now, I personally feel that iconic and cult classic films should not be touched. Because sometimes no matter how hard you try, you just can’t recreate the magic all over again.
Since the last few years, there have been constant speculations surrounding the makers of ‘Mr India’ recreating the magic. In fact, last year the speculations were at the peak, when Shekhar posted a picture with Anil alongside the caption, “To old friendships and possible new creative endeavours! Amazing that 30 years after Mr India, this picture still shows the intimacy and affection between an actor and director(sic).”
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To old friendships and possible new creative endeavours! Amazing that 30 years after Mr India , this picture still shows the intimacy and affection between an actor and director .. @anilskapoor #mrindia #anilkapoor #movies #hitmovies #actor #director #affection #friendship #friends #actordirector
But everyone’s dream came crashing down when Ali Abbas Zafar took to Twitter and announced that he will be helming the epic ‘Mr India’ trilogy. Taking to his Twitter handle, an elated Zafar wrote, “Excited to partner with @ZeeStudios_for an epic trilogy #MrIndia! It is a huge responsibility to carry forward an iconic character loved by everyone. Currently, working on the script, no actor has been locked till now. Once we lock the first draft of the script, casting begins!”
Excited to partner with @ZeeStudios_ for an epic trilogy #MrIndia! It is a huge responsibility to carry forward an iconic character loved by everyone. Currently, working on the script, no actor has been locked till now. Once we lock the first draft of the script, casting begins!
— ali abbas zafar (@aliabbaszafar) February 17, 2020
This one tweet was enough to raise several eyebrows. In fact, it ended up creating a controversy when Shekhar and Sonam Kapoor expressed their objection over Zafar’s announcement. It’s not that the problem lies with Ali heading the project, it’s just that everyone was rooting for the original makers and actors to come together.
Sonam went on to slam the makers of the trilogy and publicly called them out for not even consulting either her father Anil or director Shekhar, before making the huge announcement. Calling the decision ‘disrespectful’ and ‘underhanded’, Sonam shared the following post.
Shekhar shared his views stating, “No one has even asked me or mentioned to me about this film called Mr India 2. I can only guess that they using the title to get a big weekend. For they cannot use the characters/story without permission from the original creators of the film.”
No one has even asked me or mentioned to me about this film called Mr India 2. I can only guess that they using the title to get a big weekend. For they cannot use the characters/story without permission from the original creators of the film. https://t.co/Set5eDH63j
— Shekhar Kapur (@shekharkapur) February 18, 2020
The filmmaker further went on to add that how can he not be given the creative rights of ‘Mr India’. “We sit with writers from day one but are not the writer. Help actors hone performances but are not actors. Develop and create a visual language of film. Slave hours over editing consoles. Directors lead and inspire every aspect of a film and have no creative rights? #MrIndia,” Kapur wrote. He also stated that he is contemplating to pursue this battle in court.
Then Sonam re-entered the scene when netizens asked her how come her family didn’t know about the announcement when the rights of the ‘Mr India’ actually belongs to her family! The actress responded saying, “My father did have a word with him(Boney Kapoor) actually. we are all still very confused about how it was announced.”
In short, she stated that nobody in her family had any clue about ‘Mr India’s right’s acquisition by the third party. Amidst all this, veteran scriptwriter Javed Akhtar (he co-wrote ‘Mr India’ with Salim Khan) lashed out at Shekhar for claiming any rights on the characters or the story for that matter.
Directing at Shekhar, Akhtar wrote, “Shekhar saheb the story the situations the scenes the characters the dialogue the lyrics even the title none of these were yours .I gave it all to you . Yes you execute it very well but how can your claim on the film be more than mine . It wasn’t you idea . It wasn’t your dream.(sic)”
Shekhar saheb the story the situations the scenes the characters the dialogue the lyrics even the title none of these were yours .I gave it all to you . Yes you execute it very well but how can your claim on the film be more than mine . It wasn’t you idea . It wasn’t your dream
— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) February 28, 2020
I gave you all a step-by-step timeline of this controversy to underline the fact how it all started. The main question now arises is that instead of fighting against the remake of their film, Shekar and Javed are debating over the fact that who does the rights actually belong to! Anil and Boney Kapoor are still scratching their heads about things unfolding in such a bizarre manner in the first place.
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Look, Mogambo is coming !! Hide (or at least look scared) I remember the instructions for this shot. This working still from Mr India reminds me of the joy of making that film. Every moment needed to be captured with joy. Even a still. I hear Mr India is being made into a franchise. It should be. As long as the same sense of joy is infused into every moment .. #mrindia #sundaymorning #movies #film #32yearsofmrindia
While Shariq Patel, CEO, Zee Studios, has clearly stated that their trilogy is not a sequel or a remake of the older film but a reimagining of the classic film. Shariq had earlier told IANS, “We are excited to have Ali on board for ‘Mr. India’. This not a part 2 or a remake of the older film as recently reported in some sections of the media, but a reimagining of the iconic classic.”
Now even if this is just a reimagining of the older film, the issue of rights still remains unsolved. Boney was the sole producer of ‘Mr India’, so it’s understandable that the rights belong to him. But if Zee Studios didn’t even consult the Kapoors before announcing their film then at this point the latter should collectively take the matter to the court.
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Cockroach ! Cockroach ! The famous cockroach scene from Mr India. My personal favourite. For the brilliant SriDevi was really scared of cockroaches. And the kids had a great time running after her with a live cockroach. With Sri screaming in real terror. And I had a ‘cockroach close up’ too .. where the cockroach was sizing SriDevi .. wondering whether to attack her or not. How did we take a ‘cockroach close up’ ? By getting the cockroach drunk! Do you know that cockroaches love Old Monk Rum ? Seriously … By the way, that kid holding the live cockroach in SriDevi’s face? That Ahmed Khan .. who became one of Indian Film Industry’s most famous Choreographer. And now the Hit Director of the the Baghi franchise with Tiger Shroff. #mrindia #mrindiafilm #sridevi #film #indianfilm #cockroach #cockroachscene #oldmonk #oldmonkrum #ahmedkhan #baghi #baghi2 #tigershroff #oldmonk #oldmonkrum #movie #throwback😍
But instead, all we can see is the Kapoors feigning confusion, Javed fighting over his rights, and Shekhar wondering how does he doesn’t have any rights. These are all veterans of the film industry, who know the industry like the back of their hand, and if still, they can’t understand the gravity of the situation then they are simply creating a mockery of the entire issue with their whataboutery. What good is this going to do them anyway? Instead of fighting amongst themselves, they need to come together and fight if there have been any copyright violations.
Nobody wants their memories associated with ‘Mr India’ ruined. In fact, even the late actress Sridevi was sternly against the idea of remake or sequel. So all we are requesting is that the original makers should set the record straight for once and all.