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Shakti goes to Hollywood

May 21, 2011 4 comments
Publicity poster for Shakti.

Publicity poster for Shakti.

Going Hollywood

Shakti, a 1982 film, directed by Ramesh Sippy (of Sholay, Seeta aur Geeta fame), was an acclaimed commercial and critical success. In the India of the early 80s, with chronic shortages and near-zero opportunities, Shakti was about the interplay between ethics and expediency. The climax scene became a legend with the fugitive son (Amitabh Bachchan) dying in his cop-father’s arms (Dilip Kumar) – shot by the father.

Imagine my acute feeling of déjà vu, when a similar story, with a similar scene was recreated in a Hollywood film Heat. Al Pacino an upright policeman kills the escaping criminal Robert De Niro. Apart from minor changes in the script, the plot follows Shakti lines – right to the casting level. Even the length of the movie is Shakti-like – three hours for a Hollywood film?

Unheard of.

Interestingly, this film also did very well on the international circuit – and not as well in the USA.

At the same time, any movie with Pacino, De Niro, and Val Kilmer is bound to be a commercial success. Heat had a budget of $60 million, and ended up grossing over $170 million worldwide. $107 million of the box office revenues came from non-US audiences, as the movie was particularly successful in France, where 1.3 million tickets were sold.

Am I the only one

My first reaction was to assume my judgement as biased. But then Monsieur Google prevailed. A 30 minute trawl yielded excellent catch. One of the first comments that I could track back came in 2005. When Humble Rafi pointed out

Did you know HOLLYWOOD copied this movie as “HEAT” ?

AL PACINO is there.

Read this chat on Youtube on this same scene two years ago (extracted below).

Search for “dilip kumar kills amitabh bachan” in youtube videos to see the original inspiration of this scene shot way back in 1982 at Bombay Airport, India! (sunnytravels 2 years ago)

this ending scene is copied off 1982 indian film shakti starring dilip kumar and amitabh bachan search shakti dilip kumar kills amitabh bachan (qezza22 2 years ago).

haha it kinda is copied isnt it (secretlover12 2 years ago).

You are right . . the inspiration for that scene came from that movie Shakti made in 1982 at Bombay airport.. so either Michael Mann just loves Shakti or it was an incredible coincidence! :) (sunnytravels 2 years ago).

At a movie forum, on 28-11-2008, Guillaume P pointed out

Re: Heat (Michael Mann,1995)

Before “Heat”,there was “Shakti”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfxemtLGGZE

The next day, at another forum,

Mannfan - 29-11-2008, 13:37 said,

Before HEAT there was SHAKTI!:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfxemtLGGZE

Hollywood Cartoon - Courtesy - http://www.bagagedrager.nl/. Click for larger image.

Hollywood Cartoon - Courtesy - http://www.bagagedrager.nl/. Click for larger image.

DesiMusicClub hesitantly says that Shakti (1982)

reminds me of the Hollywood movie ‘Heat’ – also a cop movie that put together 2 legends in one movie (DeNiro & Pacino).

Satya, in another film-review site pointed out in 2009

Amitabh bachan and dilip kumar starrer Shakthi (1982 ) had exact same climax as Heat !! I still wonder if for once the hollywood copied from bollywood ?!. please see for yourself to confirm.

SearchIndia.com Responds:

Will do.

Now, wouldn’t that be something – a Robert De Niro/Al Pacino movie being a lift of a Bollywood film.

In 2009, a fan of Amitabh Bachchan also commented in Amitabh Bachchan’s blog, how Heat was so similar to Shakti.

a full 13 years ahead of the Pacino vs De Nero face of in Heat, looks like Micheal Mann must have seen Shakti as ending is too similar!

The same fan (probably) of Amitabh Bachchan followed up with a review. A few months ago, in a webzine he linked the films together saying, Shakti was a “highly recommended film to watch for all real Hindi film fans and yes the film is so much better than the clash between Pacino and De Nero in Heat!”

Michael Mann’s muse?

Michael Mann’s first claim to fame was a short film, that won him awards at Cannes, Melbourne and Barcelona film festivals – a film with a ‘succession of hypnotic images and colours are cut to haunting Indian jugalbandi music.’

Name of the movie – Jaunpuri.

Related articles

‘English titles chalta hai!’

November 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Way before Hinglish was even bornBollywood has rediscovered the KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) rule, at least where film titles are concerned. Having had its fill of long names — Bollywood’s now high on short words, and most of them straight off the English vocabulary rack. (via ‘English titles chalta hai!’ – The Times of India).

See .. it is all in English

Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood

This is an interesting (though superficial) article on how Hindi film industry, out of Mumbai, uses English.  As far back as my memory goes, Hindi film industry (out of Mumbai) used English in all their print material. Whether it was Mother India or Mera Naam Joker, all text was in English. If the film was based on an Indian-English novel like RK Narayan’s  Guide or a Bengali classic like Devdas, the language was English.

Hindi film posters always used English. In the age of LP records, LP sleeves of Hindi film music were in English. Later cassette covers were also in English – and now CDs, DVDs also come in English jackets. Even though a vast majority of the Hindi-film audience had no knowledge of English, Hindi film industry persisted with English.

Interesting! Just why did Hindi cinema end up using English so extensively! I could think of three reasons.

The law of the land

Was it because the Censor Board certification happened in English? The Censor Board bench for South India is different – and standards and norms followed by them are different. Did the South India Censor Board accept South Indian languages – which may have allowed South Indian film industry to use local languages.

Censor legislation was introduced in India at a time (1918) when her British rulers were determined that cinema should serve, unflinchingly, their colonial interests. There was no indigenous film industry at that time and the canons of censorship targeted films imported from the west, especially the US. The British wanted these films to create a rosy picture about the west and the western people’s intentions in the colonies. The Regional Censor Boards, were constituted in 1920 and each one technically autonomous … (from From Coercion to Power Relations: Film Censorship in Post-Colonial India by Someswar Bhowmik).

Tamil industry was different ... why!

Tamil industry was different ... why!

Ours is not to reason why …

Was it because the scripts had to be typed in English. Remember, no Hindi type writers, till the 1960s and Hindi typists were rare and far in between. Or was it because multinationals controlled the Indian music scene till the late 80s – and the gora bosses did not know Hindi.

Kodambakkam (home of Tamil and for some time Telugu cinema) used Tamil and Telugu mostly on their cassette covers. Tamil and Telugu posters were also in Tamil and Telugu respectively.

That ‘insecure’ feeling

The Mumbai film industry always had a complex about not being ‘good enough’ in comparison to Hollywood. Bollywood (Bombay based film industry), Kollywood (Kodambakkam based Tamil/Telugu industry) and Tollywood (for Telugu film industry) were deprecating names used by the gossip journalists – which stuck.

The Tamil and Telugu film industry had no such insecurities – and were always clear about their audience. The look and feel of the Tamil /Telugu films is also different from Mumbai-Hindi film industry.

Chennai storms Hindi film turf with Jeetu, Jaya Prada and SrideviBetween 1967 upto nearly 1973, Chennai invaded the Hindi turf. Using actors like Jeetendra and Mumtaz, they worked on lower costs films, raunchier choreography of the songs and invited the description of ‘spaghetti’ Bollywood. Curiously, it coincided with the spaghetti wave in Hollywood. The second invasion of Chennai into the Hindi turf happened during the 1980-1990 decade. This time with major stars like Amitabh Bachchan in tow.

The glory of the English

There is the usual argument trotted out that English serves as the ‘link language in the Mumbai film industry. As can be seen from some simple data, this argument is fallacious.

The South Indian film industry is significantly insular – catering to its specific clientele, attracting artistes from its home ground. But the Mumbai film industry attracts people from all over India. Is it that they found it easier to deal with each other in English – than in Hindi? Doubtful.

90% of the movers and shakers in Mumbai film industry are either Muslim or Punjabis. There is a token presence from the rest of the communities. It would have been easy for the Punjabis and Muslims to work in Urdu or Hindi. Till about the 60s, Indian actors had to change their name – from Yusufbhai to Dilip Kumar for instance.

All this raises more questions in my mind – and maybe some readers will have answers.

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