‘Ratsasan’, the Tamil language film released in 2018, is regarded as one of the best thrillers made in the country in recent times. While many non-Tamil speakers had also seen and enjoyed the film, remaking it in Hindi wouldn’t have been a bad idea at all. Pooja Films decided to rise up to the occasion and remake the film with Akshay Kumar as its central protagonist. The Hindi remake is called ‘Cuttputlli’ and has been directed by Ranjit M. Tewari who had earlier helmed films like ‘Lucknow Central’ (2017) and ‘Bell Bottom’ (2021).
Arjan Sethi (Akshay Kumar) is a struggling writer trying to get a film made out of a script he has penned about a serial killer. He meets several producers in the Punjabi film industry but nobody agrees to green light it. One of the producers even advises him to make a romantic comedy. Arjan’s brother-in-law Narinder Singh (Chandrachur Singh) advises him to put his screenwriting dreams on hold and take up a job with the police department. Since Arjan’s deceased father was a decorated police officer, Narinder states that it wouldn’t be too difficult for him to secure a job in the department. As Arjan starts working as a policeman, Kasauli gets terrorized by a serial killer who abducts school-going girls and murders them ruthlessly.
‘Cuttputlli’ not just serves as a good example of how not to remake a film but also offers one a glimpse of several issues that are plaguing the Hindi film industry at the moment. Apart from being the director of ‘Ratsasan’, Ram Kumar had also written the script for the film. The script was, undoubtedly, the biggest strength of the film. The adapted screenplay (Tushar Trivedi, Aseem Chhabra) features some plot points from the original film but eliminates several important scenes. Also, a bunch of poorly constructed gags have been added to the script. Talking about the writing credits, there are two interesting things one notices here. Tushar Trivedi is credited with the ‘screenplay’ in the opening credits. Then, after a few reels, you see Aseem Chhabra’s name appearing on the screen. He has been credited with writing the ‘screenplay and dialogue’. The writer of the original film (Ram Kumar) does not even get a mention. In fact, you don’t see the makers acknowledging the fact (in the opening or the closing credits) that ‘Cuttputlli’ is an official remake of ‘Ratsasan’. After watching ‘Cutputtli’, the ‘Ratsasan’ team might just feel happy about their names not being used in the film. The original script, for the lack of a better word, is butchered mercilessly. The adapted screenplay is pathetic, to say the least.
The original film was set in Chennai and shot extensively in different parts of the city that helped you familiarize yourself with the milieu of the film. ‘Cuttputlli’ is set in Kasauli, a small city in Himachal Pradesh but the majority of the film is shot in London. Just like the majority of films produced by Vashu/Jackky Bhagnani and/or Deepshikha Deshmukh like ‘Dil Juunglee’, ‘Khamoshi’, ‘Ghost’, ‘Jawaani Jaaneman’, ‘Bell Bottom’ ‘Cuttputlli’, too, has been shot primarily in London. The idea, as one could guess, was to get a good amount as rebate from the UK government. In the film, a 56-year-old Akshay Kumar plays a 36-year-old and call a 41-year-old Hrishitaa Bhatt didi (elder sister). ‘Ratsasan’ boasted of some great casting. Here, it is one of the weaknesses of the film. Personally, I have no issues with an actor playing a character much younger than his real age as long as he fits the part. Case in point being Shahid Kapoor in ‘Kabir Singh’. The rich makeup fails to make Akshay look two decades younger than his real age.
There has been a lot of discussions around why Hindi films are faring badly at the box-office. Watch ‘Cuttputlli’ and you will know why. The day filmmakers stop making projects (shooting in a country/location just because you are getting a hefty rebate, casting an actor just because you are getting his dates etc) and start focusing on making films backed by a good script, they will get their audience back. If you can’t better a film, it would be a good idea to stick to the original material. ‘Rakshasudu’, the Telugu remake of ‘Ratsasan’ did exactly that and that’s why it worked. ‘Cuttputlli’ is a horrible, horrible remake of a well-made thriller.