Brave heart

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Brave heart

Some classics never die, but with the help of director Sajid Khan and lead actors Ajay Devgn and Tamanna, one of the 80s biggest hits - Himmatwala - is getting a face lift. The cast of the new remake visits Khaleej Times to talk about all things retro

By Mohamad Kadry

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Published: Tue 26 Mar 2013, 7:41 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 7:51 AM

Thirty years ago it was the biggest movie to hit Indian cinema screens, and now its successor is hoping to recapture some of that magic.

When Himmatwala was released in 1983, the film made superstars of its lead actors Jeetendra and Sridevi, catapulting their careers to new heights with the help of a soundtrack that still has fans dancing to Tathaiya Tathaiya. The new film, releasing this weekend in the UAE, takes its essence from the original but promises to be a completely rewritten script.

It’s no surprise that director Sajid Khan wanted to recreate his favourite film childhood; he’s watched the original dozens of times but instead opted to create his own story and characters.

“The way I have rewritten Himmatwala, it really doesn’t fall into the category of a remake because they’re two absolutely different films,” Khan explained.

Joined by the two stars of the film, Ajay Devgn and South Indian actress Tamanna, the cast visited the Khaleej Times offices this week to promote what they hope will become another instant classic.

“The songs from the original film stay popular and fresh in people’s minds, and I hope 30 years from now our music will be remembered that way too,” said Tamanna, the 23-year-old beauty from the South who is making a relatively new foray into Bollywood.

Tamanna, who’s originally from Mumbai but boasts a long roster of Tamil and Telugu hits, was left red faced by her colleagues after they revealed her pet name.

“The industry calls her ‘milk’ because she’s so fair. I just worry after twenty years when she starts playing mothers’ roles that they’ll call her cow!” Devgn joked.

As with any remake – or rewrite as director Khan likes to describe it - the film’s success will fall mainly on the shoulders of Devgn, a versatile actor whose latest string of hits includes Bol Bachchan, Singham and political thriller Rajneeti. But the 43-year-old Bollywood heavyweight, who’s married to talented actress Kajol, is confident that the public will receive Himmatwala with the same enthusiasm as the original.

“I think people who have not seen the original film, like younger generations, will want to see what the 80s were all about,” Devgn said. “I saw the original when I was a child and I haven’t seen it since.”

The story, like many Bollywood plot lines, revolves around vengeance, but the 80s aura and set design for the film might be what fans enjoy most.

“The 80s was very tacky in terms of cinema and fashion, but it was entertaining and that’s what we took from it,” Devgn added.

Sajid and Ajay joked with Tamanna as they chatted about the film

Famously known for making his entry into Bollywood while riding two bikes (in Phool Aur Kaante), Devgn is no stranger to taking risks. The son of a professional stunt choreographer, audiences will see him battling a live tiger, and like the film’s ‘brave’ title suggests, Devgn had no qualms about wrestling with one of nature’s most ferocious animals.

“Once you mentally decide to do it, then it’s all fine,” he said, suffering just a few minor scratches and bruises from the shoot. “I once fell off a horse and suffered major injuries that left me in bed for three months. The first day I got out of the house I jumped right back on a horse because I didn’t want to live with that fear.”

Courage is the name of the game, as Khan, Devgn and Tamanna cautiously wait to see how audiences will react to their reworked copy of a beloved classic.

“We had fun going through the retro clothes to fit the 80s theme,” Khan said, “and I made sure to add a little over-the-top melodramatic cinema into it as well.”

“As a viewer, and not as a filmmaker, its one of the best collaborations I’ve seen between a director and actor,” he added.

Dressing up Tamanna

Designer says there was no pressure to replicate Sridevi’s look from the original film

Rick Roy, who has designed actress Tamanna’s looks in Himmatwala, says he never focused on making her look on par with Sridevi, who played the lead in the original 1983 film.

Roy has styled actresses like Malaika Arora Khan and Chitrangada Singh in the past and says Sridevi is an iconic actress and he never tried to compete with her looks in the remake.

“Sridevi’s clothes in the original film were very cool for that time and I loved it. I never thought I needed to match up,” Roy said.

“It’s a different film altogether... Sridevi is an iconic actress and there is no point trying to recreate or match up to her. My only focus was to make Tamanna look fantastic,” Roy said.

The hit song Naino Mein Sapna has been taken from the original movie and Roy kept the original flavour of the song without making big changes.

Naino Mein Sapna is a classic when it comes to the looks. Sajid wanted to keep its flavour and keep the clothes very similar but with a touch of now so that’s what we did,” Roy, 30, said.

The designer used a lot of bright colours and chunky jewellery for Tamanna’s looks, which came as a result of thorough research with director Sajid Khan.

“The 1980s was a bright era. Sajid made me see some 20 movies before my first meeting and the one thing that was constant throughout those movies was the big, chunky blocks or bright colour in the clothes. I was very sure I wanted to use it. I wanted it (the look) bright and colourful not dark and dingy,” he said.

The biggest challenge for Roy was to strike a balance and let the clothes be loud only when the scene required them to.

“I wanted it to be cool and fun without being caricaturish. The 1980s was a very loud era. I wanted to make sure the clothes don’t distract the audience but fit right with the character and the narration of the film,” he said.

The designer is all praise for the actress and says: “Tamanna is very professional and listens to everything you say. She is not fussy about anything and is very easy to work with.”

“The Naino Mein Sapna song had some 100 accessories on her and I told her to be careful. (While shooting) if anything even moved from its place she would fix it herself, even before my assistants could reach. It was great fun dressing her up,” Roy said. IANS

Sajid all praise for Sonakshi

Sajid Khan seems to be all praise for Sonakshi Sinha who will be seen doing a peppy dance number Thank God It’s Friday in Himmatwala.

“I nurtured a desire to work with Sonakshi after I saw her in Dabangg. You will see Sonakshi in one of my future films as well. I am very fond of that girl,” Khan said.

“A lot has been said about her not being modern and that she can only look nice in Indian clothes. I wanted to break this image that she doesn’t look nice in western outfits,” he said.

Talking about the outfits used in the song, Khan said that he wanted clothes from that era.

“The Western outfits over here are retro. I said I wanted outfits from that era,” he said.

Sonakshi has two looks in the song. The first one has been inspired from Parveen Babi’s look in Shaan and the second one is similar to Sridevi’s from Chaalbaaz. IANS

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