remakes

No, Shah Rukh Khan, please do not remake ‘Breaking Bad’

There is really no need to adapt the classic American TV show into a Bollywood movie.

Scene: Rahul Verma (our desi Mr White) walks into the RV wearing a gas mask. Raj (desi Pinkman) is already here. He exclaims, “O… Bete”!

They start cooking – meth! And while they cook, they sing a song about how unfair life is, and how rich they’re going to be. Simran (desi Skylar) enters the scene in flowy chiffon. Just then, the chemical gases fog up the screen. Rahul and she are now in the mountains, playing with the clouds. Suddenly, the pressure cooker goes off and Rahul is back. Alas! It was just a dream.

Welcome to the impending disaster currently known as Desi Breaking Bad – Ek Meth Cook Ki Kahaani.

Remakes are a common, however unfortunate, format popular in Bollywood. Be it a Hollywood legend like Dead Poet’s Society re-imagined as the painful Mohabbatein or Sholay reimagined as Ram Gopal Verma Ki Aag. Bollywood has been remaking and “getting inspired” Hollywood movies and television shows for the longest time now. Susan Sarondon’s Stepmom became Kajol’s We are Family, Italian Job became the disastrous Players, and Julia Robert’s wonderful My Best Friend’s Wedding was translated into one of Uday Chopra’s many debacles, Mere Yaar ki Shaadi Hain.

The formula seems to work even when these films clearly do not. And as the threat of a remake now looms over a modern classic, the deeply loved American television Breaking Bad, one can’t help look back at all the mistakes we've made. Breaking Bad earned countless nominations and awards, accolades and a loyal fan following across its five-season run. The show gets its unique character as much from the dusty Albuquerque wasteland as it does from the unrepeatable performances of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. The incredible acting, writing and direction helped the show cement its place in modern pop culture. Millions around the world love Breaking Bad fiercely. As does Shah Rukh Khan, clearly. He wants to remake the show as a Hindi movie, an idea that has its fans and followers in a worried tizzy. In Khan’s words, it is the “the story of a man who is going to die and takes a chance to save his family that is a good premise for a feature film”. That it is indeed. Then why not make it a brief for screenwriters and storytellers waiting for a chance to say something different?

I am no Shah Rukh Khan hater. He is definitely one of the biggest stars and finest actors in the country. For every Chennai Express, the star has been in a heartbreakingly beautiful Dil Se, for every Oh Darling Yeh Hain India, there has been an unforgettable Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa.

But remaking Breaking Bad is like redoing the Mona Lisa because it is “too evolved” for India. Why not introduce the audience to Breaking Bad’s brilliance instead? Let’s hope Khan finds a new story, a new script and maybe leaves Breaking Bad alone. Or we’ll have to get ready to accept that “Haar ke jeetne wale ko baazigar kehte hain. Aur danger ko, Hiesenberg.”

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