Shakti goes to Hollywood

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”:

The next day, at another forum,

Mannfan – 29-11-2008, 13:37 said,

Before HEAT there was SHAKTI!:

Hollywood Cartoon - Courtesy - Click for larger image.

Hollywood Cartoon - Courtesy - 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. 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.

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  1. Galeo Rhinus
    May 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I can see that there was an influence.

    Another example is Seinfeld being influenced by Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi. The four characters in each have similar personalities. Satish Shah’s different characters were like Kramer taking on different interests. The slightly plump and unemployed Raja (Rakesh Bedi) was like George. Shafi Inamdar’s character was similar to Seinfeld… the most important similarity was that both shows were about nothing – yet incredibly entertaining.

    YJHZ first aired in 1984. Seinfeld first aired 1989 – but Seinfeld’s idea was pitched to NBC in 1986-1987 or so – when YJHZ was immensely popular in India.

  2. manu
    May 22, 2011 at 4:16 am

    Double jeopardy and Andha Kanoon one more example

  3. May 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    I actually have no problem with inspiration, imitation, plagiarism, rip-offs, copying – by whatever name. Human beings learn from each other. A very basic version of copyrights is the maximum that inventors need – probably. What copyrights anyway do is raise the cost of entry.

    The two important points that I have made earlier:

    1. The poor of this world are not the only ones who are getting ‘inspired’, or are into imitation, plagiarism, rip-offs, copying – by whatever name it is called. Even rich ‘creative’ types like Hollywood.

    2. The low self-esteem that Indian elites have! Bollywood creatives are open in acknowledging ‘inspiration’ from Hollywood. Indian elites frequent allege that Bollywood ‘lives on ripping off’ Holywood.

    3. These elitist commentators are trying to create a self-esteem deficit.

    4. Hollywood’s grey, gritty, surreal style I don’t like. Bollywood does not get my respect because of their blind adoration of Hollywood – and self-deprecation.

  4. ched
    December 30, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Fascinating connection between Shakti and Heat here, something which I thought I was alone in spotting! However it goes much father than this, I think Mann was specifically influenced by both Shakti and the earlier Salim-Javed scripted Amitabh gangster film Deewar. Deewar (which followed the same cops vs robbers battle within a family as Shakti) had two key scenes which seem to have influenced Heat: the famous set-piece where Shashi confronts Amitabh (there’s an echo in the De Niro and Pacino coffee shop scene), and more obviously Amitabh’s disastrous detour at the climax of Deewar where, with the police on his tail, he goes to a hotel to kill his enemy (repeated in Heat when De Niro goes to kill Waingro), leading to his downfall. Could be a total co-incidence, but be great and flattering if it turns out these were direct influences!

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