When Nagraj Manjule wrote and directed Sairat, he probably had no idea that his small film will revolutionise Marathi cinema. The Bollywood trope of a love story mired in ‘oonch-neech‘ got a caste spin, making it more of a social commentary than a simple love story. The film went on to become the biggest Marathi film of all time, becoming the rare non-mainstream regional film to cross the 100-crore mark . And the film’s monster success birthed Dhadak (produced by Karan Johar) and will now be adapted into a TV show called Jaat Na Pucho Pyaar Ki.
Directed by Shashank Khaitan, Dhadak became the very film that Nagraj Manjule was trying to parody/critique while carrying his hard-hitting commentary on caste bias. A meticulously designed rural India, the film missed the earthiness of the original. Along with that, serving as a ‘launch’ for two star kids (at a time when the nepotism debate was raging in Bollywood) in place of two ordinary faces that Manjule (almost) picked from the crowd, the Hindi remake seemed dishonest about replicating the original film’s gritty message.
Given Indian TV’s notoriety for leeching off any remotely ‘successful formula’, one can expect that Manjule’s message will only be further watered down. Jaat Na Pucho Pyaar Ki will be set in Uttar Pradesh, and the show’s leads will be played by Kinshuk Vaidya (who shot to fame as a child in the show, Shakalaka Boom Boom) and Pranali Suresh Rathore. According to Mumbai Mirror, the show will also be recreating a song from the original film Sairat Zhala Ji.
Manjule’s film was a searing criticism of mainstream films and how they went about portraying the ‘love against all odds’, something that the Hindi remake completely missed. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to dump any hopes you might have for the TV show, to restart the dialogue on caste-based discrimination. It might obviously go on to make some money for the producers of the show, just like Dhadak did. In spite of all the criticism, the Bollywood version did an estimated business of Rs 110 crore. One can’t help but wish that Bollywood and Indian TV valued hard work and originality as much as the money that came because of it.