Ever since news broke that Subhash Ghai’s cult Hero will have a remake starring newcomers Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty, fans of the old Hero was sceptical – as well as worried. It is not a new trend to revive older classics and throw them in the arena of contemporary viability, testing their longevity and Hero becomes another movie that will precisely go through this test. Director Nikhil Advani and newcomers Sooraj and Athiya hence have much to prove because Hero directed by Subhash Ghai is no mere movie but a part of the cultural clockwork that we all revere and love.
One thing that Nikhil Advani’s Hero can’t escape will be the constant comparison with the original that it will be administered to. The original Hero starring Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Seshadri apart from a string of Bollywood giants like Shammi Kapoor, Amrish Puri and Sanjeev Kumar is part of a legend. Stories float how after performing lackadaisically at the box office word-of-mouth helped it establish box-office dominance and the rest as they say is history. Jackie Shroff became one of the most sought after actors post-Hero while Meenakshi too went on to carve a place for herself in Bollywood.
Sooraj and Athiya have big shoes to fill. They are newcomers but they will be judged to some degrees on how they match up to the original Hero-pair. The on-screen chemistry between Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Seshadri was impeccable. The eternal underdog and the princess, Hero in many sense was a tale that refined the beauty and the beast story, as Jackie played a goon who had to kidnap the commissioner’s daughter to save his mentor, played by Amrish Puri.
Another addition to this remake is, of course, Tigmanshu Dhulia and Aditya Pancholi where Tigmanshu plays the role essayed by Shammi Kapoor while Aditya as the trailer suggested might be coming in for Amrish Puri. Since Hero has gone in for a total remake with the old story re-written, we can only assume that the characters have gone for a massive change with Tigmanshu looking rugged to the core while Aditya Pancholi appears menacing.
Now the idea behind any remake is to introduce an old movie to a new set of audience. It has two advantages. Firstly, it helps that old movie to get a revival of sorts. Secondly, the new movie depending on the cult value of its predecessor might go onto become a success at the box-office but then this is not always the case and if you look up a bit, there are many remakes, be it Bollywood or Hollywood that have failed miserably. The idea is definitely to tap the commercial aspects but one can’t do a remake just for the sake of a remake.
Director Subhash Ghai, known for his larger than life movies was another USP of Hero. Nikhil Advani, the director behind the Hero remake is yet to reach that mark though his box-office record is decent. Backed by Salman Khan Productions, Nikhil Advani knows he has to deliver big time because it is not only about two young debutants but also about him if he has to hit the big league. With the release of Katti Batti looming on the horizon the pressure on Nikhil Advani is immense.
What made Hero a cult? There are many factors. The plot was clichéd, one can’t help but notice that but the way Hero was conceived, acted and the soundtrack with the underdog Jackie Shroff trying hard to woo the daughter of the police commissioner, the entire template of Hero was to focus on how the tough wins at the end. Jackie was a Dev Anand discovery just like Sooraj and Athiya are Salman’s finds.
His brooding on-screen presence, Ghai’s maverick direction and the melodic songs made Hero the cult phenomenon it is today.
It is befitting that 32 years later, we’ll see a new Hero once again.