My Year of Prakash Raj

Some people spend a year
cooking Julia Child's recipes, or following all of the rules in the Bible, or reading books by people who spent a year doing something. My quest is to watch the 200-some films of South Indian character-actor-extraordinaire, Prakash Raj. (It'll probably take more than a year... and I'll post about some Prakash-less films here as well.)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

When Bebo and Lolo Were South Indian Film Heroines (One Degree of Prakash Raj)

I've been enjoying all of the "Kapoor Khazana" posts, co-ordinated by Katherine at Totally Filmi,
and I've been trying to decide what to contribute that would have a connection back to the theme of my blog. I did a bit of searching to see if any of the Kapoors had ever appeared in South Indian films, but hit a dead end. Then it occurred to me that Kareena and Karisma Kapoor have been in a few remakes of South Indian hits.

Khushi (2003)
This was the very first Hindi film I ever saw in a theater. I convinced a friend to come along to the old multiplex in a dying mall, and a few moments into the film, we realized that there would not be subtitles. Fortunately, the story was fairly easy to follow, and product placement transcends languages.

I didn't realize until several years later who exaclty Kareena Kapoor was, and that this was a remake of a Tamil film starring Vijay and Jyothika (which I also enjoyed.) I do remember enjoying Kareena in this "Poo-with-a-heart" role, where she and Fardeen Khan meet-cute at college, fight, and ultimately make up. It actually wasn't a bad intro to classis Bollywood masala; there were song picturizations in exotic locales (Dallas-Fort Worth!) and young lovers brought together by destiny.

Hulchul (2004)

I watched Hulchul two summers ago, about the same time that I saw a two other Priyadarshan comedies (Hera Pheri and Chup Chup Ke.)  Of the three, Hulchul was the one that I actually enjoyed. Again, Kareena plays a headstrong college girl, who becomes her grandmother's main weapon in a factionalist feud with the Akshaye Khanna's family. 

This may not be one of Kareena's greatest roles, but I really appreciated that she played a strong female who had agency (actively participating in the feud) and a interesting character arc (as she realizes that she needs to help end the cycle of violence between the families.)
Check out bad-a## Bebo, arguing a case in her college law class in her first scene.
I was strangely fascinated by the factionalists with machetes and the Mumaith Khan item number, so when I later learned that this film was a remake of the 1991 Malayalam hit Godfather, all of the pieces fell into place.

Raja Babu (1994)
Raja Babu is a remake of a Tamil film, Raasu Kutti. I watched it on the UltraHindi youtube channel about a year ago, but sadly, I don't remember much of it (something about brain chemistry deleting any memories of David Dhawan films.) I took a quick peek at the end, and Karisma Kapoor does get to drive a horse-cart, Basanti-style, for the big finale.

Shakti: The Power (2002)

I wrote about Shakti: The Power, and its Telugu source material Antahpuram, when I watched them both in  January, 2011. I thought Soundarya was a bit better in the Telugu version, but Karisma held her own, especially with this scene when she stands up to the Nana Patekar's unhinged factionalist father:

She also gets points for being completely non-glamorous for the last third of the film:
Image pilfered from the review at the Shahrukh Is Love blog.
Finally, and most important of all, Shakti: The Power appears to be the first (and so far only) time that any of the Kapoors have been in a film with Prakash Raj:


  1. Its funny how many remakes these girls have been in. Besides the ones mentioned Biwi no1, Kyun Ki are others but that probably came back to Boney Kapoor. He has a stronger tendency to remake south films than Priyadarshan. Miss Karishma though.I do agree Soundarya did Antahpuram better but Shakti was a damn good remake.

    Nice write up.. :)

  2. I LOVE Shakti: The Power with all its intensity and craziness! I have to see Antahpuram now. You know whenever a Hindi movie blows my mind with that explosive craziness, I find it's a South Indian remake, Tere Naam and Virasaat come to mind. I still have to see the Tamil original of Virasat.
    Have you seen that?

    Great post hai!
    All the best,

    p.s. I thought Prakash Raj met the crazy level of Nana Patekar in Shakti: The Power in his role in