I watched the much talked about Malayalam movie Premam earlier this year, almost a year after its theatrical release. Though I didn’t understand a word of the language, I instantly fell in love with the film. Maybe it was the music, the locations, visuals, acting, chemistry, love, pimples, Java, or god knows what…the film was pure magic!
Later, I came to know it was being remade in Telugu, my native language. I felt it was a bold move, maybe a stupid one too...Premam is a piece of ART, and ART is sacrosanct, not to be tampered with. Were the makers committing blasphemy?
To find the answers, I waited with bated breath for the Telugu release. Caught the film during the first weekend, and then the unexpected happened.
I walked in expecting to see a ‘copy paste remake’ but what I instead got was an ‘upgraded version’ of the original.
It felt as if the original Premam was put on a treadmill and made to lose all the flab, in place of which it grew muscles – muscles called LOGIC.
It was a given that the director would make changes to the film to suit sensibilities of the Telugu audience, but he also added extraordinary depth to the narrative – tying up loose ends, giving meaning to seemingly random occurrences, expanding the canvas of the film beyond its confined settings, including the angle of parents into what was a one dimensional narrative from the hero’s perspective in the original.
The soul of the film remained intact but the structure and the interpretation of the soul now had far more weight and logic than the original.
If someone were to remake the film in another language now, they would have to without fail refer to the Telugu version as the starting point.
This fact shook me to the core. It actually turned my world upside down.
Isn’t ART an absolute…how can we have VERSIONS of it?
Wasn’t the original film perfect as a piece of ART in itself?
Is the concept of ORIGINALITY overrated?
Finally, I found the answers. I found them as parallels in some real life scenarios, and in the most unexpected of all places – the movie itself.
That’s what I am going to talk about next.
Sorry to disappoint you if you were expecting a detailed review of the film; that definitely warrants another post.
I shall begin with the real life parallels first and then the movie. Once you are done reading, do let me know what you think; shall wait to hear from you.