Is there a point to ‘Nanban’?

Mon, January 16, 2012 4:25pm UTC by 18 Comments
Is there a point to ‘Nanban’?

This past weekend, Cineswami was importuned to watch the latest Vijay vehicle Nanban, it being Sankranti/Pongal. Obviously, the whole world and its canine friend knows that the film is a remake of Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots and the same world dwellers and their barking brethren would have seen the Hindi film

Apparently not, as our friends in Kollywood purchased the Tamil remake rights and entrusted the reins to Shankar, the biggest Indian director. Upon watching the film, the first thing that strikes you is how incredibly lazy it is. Apart from a few song picturisations, which themselves feel cut and pasted from past Shankar triumphs, there is absolutely nothing new in Nanban, if you have watched 3 Idiots that is. The plot is exactly the same, the dialogue appears to have been translated from the Hindi by a machine and what’s worse, for much of the film it’s a shot by shot rendering. Clearly, Shankar the director was on a break from making two Rajinikanth films back to back and having too good a time to put his own stamp on Nanban.

So, what then was the point of remaking 3 Idiots? The answer lies in Vijay and in the anti-Hindi agitations in Tamil Nadu in the 60s. On January 25, 1965, a day ahead of India adopting Hindi as her official language, the resolutely non-Hindi state of Madras (as she was then) went up in flames protesting the imposition of the non-Dravidian language in a Dravidian state. Though matters simmered down, Hindi and by extension Hindi cinema never really percolated down to the Tamil grass roots unlike elsewhere in the country and in the three neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka. Hence, a large percentage of the Tamil Nadu population, especially those living outside of the urban agglomerations, are unlikely to have watched 3 Idiots. And hardly anybody watches Hindi-language television there anyway and therefore a television audience for 3 Idiots would have been low.

Thus, here’s an event picture with a marquee star and the country’s most flamboyant director, being released on a popular holiday. It makes total economic sense as the gargantuan opening numbers for Nanban attest to. Therefore those decriers of Nanban as a pale and pointless version of 3 Idiots have only half a point. Pale it may be, but pointless it is not as it is catering to a brand new audience. We only have to look into our Superstar’s career to get more examples. Amitabh Bachchan reigned over most of the Indian box office in the 70s and 80s but for the Tamil audience, many of his superhits like Don, Deewar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Trishul and Mard, to name but a few, were remade starring Rajinikanth. It wasn’t confined to Bachchan alone as Dharmendra starrer Maa and Amol Palekar starrer Golmaal were also refashioned in Tamil as Rajinikanth vehicles. And today, Vijay, who goes by the title of Ilaya Thalapathy (Junior Superstar), is trying to refashion himself in the original Superstar’s image. The release of Nanban saw the erection of several giant Vijay cutouts across India that were anointed in milk in Thalaivar fashion. A gentle reminder to Vijay fans – the original article is still very much around and Kochadaiyaan begins shooting on January 19.

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  • karthick

    Sorry to ask you … Boss are you a north indian.. Boss i dont know hindi … And moreover i havent watched 3 idiots ….. Boss less than 5 percent people in tamilnadu knows hindi … only less than 2 percent people ll know hindi fluently … Neenga intha maathiri oru movieku point kuduka mudiyathunu solrathu kastama iruku…

  • ram

    Daiiiiii(cineswami) virus kirumi…….

  • DB

    The only point i learnt from this article is abt when Hindi agitation started and everything else is not new….same % of folks in SOUTH INDIA ( AP , KE , KA , TN ) know hindi and u cannot force a foreign language on folks …Nanban is a great hit in Kerala too…Unlike lot of recent Hindi remakes / megahits which are remakes of south movies where the original does not get credited or folks seeing those movies know who the source was – shankar clearly gave due credits to the Hindi team and did not want to mess with a perfect story line and that’s why people like it…..Salman wanted to remake a superhit Pokiri and made a lot of shirt ripping adjustments – for someone who had seen the original – those changes made us puke….and it is not as if all old and new Hindi films are ORIGINALS – most of them are from Hollywood ( Sholay ) or remakes of hindi olds or still dependent on Ramayan/Hindi….

    • DB

      This article is an utterly non necessary analysis given all the issues going in our country and someone (cineswami) going back to history to find out why Hindi is not prevalent in Tamil Nadu – this is little bit offensive and whatever is equivalent of racist .. good attempt by whoever back in the old days trying to THRUST Hindi as a language to south ( probably took a lesson from Hitler’s propoganda )… even 3 idiots had a southern / tamil stereotype as the nincompoop student – chatur ramalingam …. atleast Shankar decided in Nanban not to make that mistake… also what is in offensive folks from BOLLYWOOD going outside india and promoting festivals by calling International INDIAN Film etc etc which only has choice selections from one of the Indian languagues – Hindi….

  • vel

    Chanceless way to find the hindi agitation….I could have found it when billa was remade to tamil…..

  • imran

    thambi tea innum varla…. u dont know tamil??? ok… brother… tea has not come yet…… only my thalaivar is great…. u get out… all is wellu

  • sankar

    Hmmm… s… Nanban might be copyof 3 idiots( they have every right to copy, producers have spent crores to buy the rights, so there is nothing wrong in copying). So are amithab films like surya vamsam, to name one. Other wannabe shahinshas like amir khan,salman khan also copied from movies like pokiri, ghajni frame be frame… So cut this crap.

    I can’t understand, why u raised hindi agitation while reviewing a simple movie. ( I also believe hindi should not have been banned completely, It can be an optional subject in school… It is a diff subject altogether, Isn’t it?)

    Even 3 idiots is mindless copy of FPS( in most scenes)

    I think u r a frustrated tambrahm to write like this

  • Damu

    Whoever gave this review jus need to think b4 u giv such a review….i know hindi & i know tamil too…i watched both versions….yeah, i agree that Nanban is exactly d same as 3 Idiots without much of a change…but hav u realized Shankar had the same question put forward? And do you know, what he answered? He said, “The story & screenplay was too good that if i do any change it will hurt the people who made 3 Idiots”…..it’s jus a genunie statement and v got to respect dat….for a matter of fact, i did like Nanban far far better than 3 idiots….so don’t give your BXXL SXXT…i enjoyed it and most will do, dats all v got to think….

  • allizwell

    dont think dat shankar was not cretive enuf.. yes nanban is frame by frame.. so wat..! rememba be4 this movie shankar made enthiran. have ya watchd enthiran? oh yeah u dont understand tamil rite.? neva mind watch d hindi version. robot. dat is shankar.. with that kind of capabilities our very own shankar made nanban.. and he was so honest. he said 3 idiots was too perfect to make aaany changes. he remained loyal to raj kumar hirani. so humble. great respect to the Original Version!

  • Sethu

    You should be crooked moron..to write this review.

    Don’t spread hatred..beware you ll be screwed by the fans if the review is not honest,

  • harsh

    what a retard…bas*ard :D
    jobless moron :D
    yeh i’m talking about d guy who wrote d review…
    u r illiterate, ignorant n may be impotent :P

  • Thamizhan

    Ilayathalaphi means young leader not young superstar lool you fail.

  • Raj

    is this review about Nanban or Hindi agitation? Are you political analyzer or movie reviewer?
    This is the most stupid article ever seen!

    • Gautham

      ya its true man…I think shd have hone nuts…

  • kaushik

    who ever has written the review please don’t bring up such controversies …. it is so pathetic to relate a movie remake to a long past event…..

  • gopi

    Poda venna!

  • Riya

    Well, i agree to most of the comments that it should have been made and so on but i believe the director could have added his touch to the movie… if he didn’t want to do that then why take the effort in the songs… come on get real… call yourself a director then add your imagination to it as well. There have been remakes before that were entirely copied but that does not mean Shankar should follow suit too…

  • Saravanan

    hello one more baised northie as usual.. Answer me the question.. Is there a point to Ghajini, Bodyguard, Sigham, Billu barber, Suryavamsham or any other remake movies from south india?

    First hindi cinema should stop copying south indian script. And then you can have any kind anlaysis like what you have written (is-there-a-point-to-nanban)

    First be true to yourself and write whatever you want.

    I don’t know why northies have so much burning in their stomach when one comparing south indian cinema with hindi cinema. The reason is simple — feeling insecure.


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