Movie remakes are the flavor of the season, and they’ve been for a while now. Filmmakers choose proven screenplays and stereotypical hits and rights are bought. Almost always redesigned, sometimes updated for contemporary viewers and sometimes tailored to the tastes of local audiences, the remakes continue to be produced year after year.
In this weekly column, Reel Retake, we compare the original film and its remake. Beyond highlighting the similarities, differences and measuring them on the scale of success, we aim to uncover the potential of the storyline that spurred the idea for a newer release and the ways a remake could. possibly offer a different viewing experience. And if so, analyze the film.
The film in the spotlight this week is the tragicomedy The Fault In Our Stars and its Hindi remake – Dil Bechara.
What is The Fault in Our Stars about?
Based on an eponymous novel by John Green, The Fault In Our Stars follows its terminally ill teenage protagonists Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus ‘Gus’ Waters (Ansel Elgort). They meet in a support group, become friends, and cherish life’s precious moments with each other on a journey that can only end in heartache.
Hazel is initially hesitant to be part of a support group and Gus simply accompanies his friend there, so the reunion is a stroke of fate. Gus is a very simple man and the way he exchanges silent glances with Hazel is endearing to her. Their chemistry is instantaneous but Hazel seems reluctant to open up to him just yet. The two begin to bond around common hobbies and agree to read each other’s favorite books. Gus gives Hazel Counter Insurgence and Hazel recommends An Imperial Affliction, a novel about a girl with cancer named Anna that parallels her own experience, but has an abrupt ending. Its author, Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe), retired to Amsterdam after the novel was published and has not heard from since. Hazel is obsessed with what happened to Anna and clearly shows it to Gus.
Weeks later, Gus tells Hazel that he has corresponded with Van Houten by email and that he only wants to answer their questions in person. Gus then surprises Hazel with tickets to Amsterdam, acquired from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Hazel has a medical setback but is eventually allowed to travel halfway to the other part of the world. Hazel, her mother and Gus leave for Amsterdam.
They spend beautiful moments together before Gus confesses his love to her during a romantic meal sponsored by Van Houten. The next afternoon, they meet Houten and are surprised to find out that he is mean and alcoholic. It is revealed that Van Houten’s emails were in fact from Lidewij (his manager), who arranged the meeting without Van Houten’s knowledge.
During their meeting, Van Houten taunts Hazel for seeking answers to a piece of fiction and downplays her state of health. Hazel and Gus leave, completely distraught. Lidewij invites them on a sightseeing trip to make up for their wasted experience and they visit Anne Frank’s house, where they share their first kiss. The next day, Gus tells Hazel that her cancer has returned, has spread throughout her body, and is now terminally ill. Hazel is heartbroken, but full of hope.
After their return, Gus’ health continues to deteriorate. Gus invites Hazel and his best friend Isaac to his pre-funerals, where they deliver eulogies. Hazel tells him that she wouldn’t trade their little time together for anything. Gus died eight days later. Van Houten attends his funeral, revealing that Gus had demanded it. Van Houten explains to Hazel that An Imperial Affliction is based on his own daughter, Anna, who died of leukemia at a young age. He gives Hazel a piece of paper, which she throws away first, but later retrieves after a conversation with Isaac reveals that the paper was a letter from Gus, not Van Houten. Gus had asked Van Houten for his help in writing a eulogy for Hazel.
Hazel reads the letter, in which Gus accepts his fate and professes his love for Hazel. It ends with Hazel lying on her back in her lawn and staring at the stars.
Where is the potential?
The Fault In Our Stars is a different teen movie than most. Conversations between Gus and Hazel are endowed with a wise maturity and, therefore, they appeal not only to teenagers but also to people of all age groups. Gus is a charismatic, lively and outgoing man who always has a smile on his face. He accepted the inevitable, that he was going to die sooner or later, and it gave him a sense of peace and settlement. The rest of his days will only be spent living and not worrying. He is as he appears and this is the best quality about him.
Hazel is sarcastic, witty and introverted. She finds her partner in Gus and we see him when they first meet at the support group. While she’s hopeful about their relationship and this new turn in life, she balances and doesn’t let their emotions get the best of her. The conflicting feelings of falling in love while living with a terminal illness are believable. The dialogical parts between Hazel and Gus are natural because they accept to live on borrowed time but always full of sarcasm and wit. They are as much emotional as they are spiritual. In heartbreaking moments, Gus’s smile will leave you overwhelmed. Hazel’s pragmatic nature, meanwhile, keeps the pathos under control. This is a first-rate human drama, and there is a lot to love and move about the film with a deep sense of life and death. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort’s acting lifts this film on its own, which otherwise doesn’t have a solid storyline to work with.
Gus’ free-spirited nature is well complemented by Hazel’s vulnerability. They get closer, but not too close, thus giving their relationship a kind of eternal longing that hurts but also leaves a sweet aftertaste. The film doesn’t come with a distinct style, but director Josh Boone trusts his cast to carry the dramatic weight inherent in the story.
Swan song by Sushant Singh Rajput Dil Bechara
Gus finds his Bollywood counterpart in Manny, played by Sushant Singh Rajput, who inherently has the charm to play the role. But for some reason, in the witty scenes, the natural flair of the original Gus is lacking in Sushant’s performance. This crisis also comes from the fact that the dialogues do not have the required weight. Much realism is lost in the translation and adaptation to Indian taste with modifications. Manny and Kizzie (Sanjana Sanghi) appear to be in the same scenes as The Fault In Our Stars but the soul is totally missing. Sanjana’s performance runs at surface level and lacks depth. Her role in execution and presence does not match that of Shailene in the original. The film then relies totally on Sushant to bypass him in the dramatic moments. Manny, compared to Gus, is also light. Manny has both legs. He dances well and walks perfectly. All of a sudden in the cancer support group he shows his lost leg. Then he walks with a struggle.
In The Fault In Our Stars, Hazel is obsessed with a novel called An Imperial Affliction and wants to meet the author. The novel reflects somewhat his life and motivates his meeting with Van Houten. In Dil Bechara, Kizzie is obsessed with a music album and wants to meet singer-songwriter Abhimanyu Veer (Saif Ali Khan). One of the songs on his album is incomplete and Kizzie wants to meet him to ask him why he left it incomplete. There is no reason behind it rather than a simple desire to meet your favorite artist. These changes do not allow you to invest as much in the story.
Dil Bechara’s directing lacks focus and the film seems rushed to the conclusion, leaving out the protagonists’ moments that add value. One of the best parts of the story is the silences and pain of people seeing death on the doorstep and how those around them are affected. But this emotion is nowhere visible in the remake. The recreation of the Van Houten scene is also not up to par.
The Fault In Our Stars was very popular with movie fans. Dil Bechara had a lot of expectations about it just because it was Sushant’s posthumous movie. For his fans, it will be a film that will remember him but that does not deserve the immense talent he possessed. Dil Bechara was well received on OTT where he saw its release in 2020 but just in terms of a remake it’s a bad one, mainly because the direction and script lacks the depth of story like this deserves. having.
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