Unlike other countries of the world, the film industry in India has a unique feature. Though Hindi films dominate the scenario and claim to have a more national perspective, many states have their own film industries catering to the regional audience and hence made in the language of the particular State-Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Oriya, etc.
Out of all the State languages, Hindi cinema has always had a stronger connection with Tamil and Telugu film industry and many films can be listed which have been made in all three languages.
Interestingly, the release date of the first talkie belonging to these three languages in India can be traced back to around the same time! Alam Ara (Hindi) was released on 14th March 1931, Kalidas (Tamil) with songs in Tamil and Telugu was released on 31st October 1931 and Bhakta Prahalada (Telugu) was released on February 6th 1932. Thus these three industries laid the foundation of their talkies almost simultaneously and grew up to be powerful and significant in their own way.
Further, Ardeshir Irani , the Father of the Indian talkie, who directed the Hindi film Alam Ara was also the producer of the Tamil film Kalidas and H M Reddy who worked as his assistant in Alam Ara directed both Kalidas and Bhakta Prahalada. To L V Prasad actor-cinematographer-director-producer- businessman goes the unique distinction of having starred in all these three talkies!
Somewhere in the thirties, the idea of making the same film in more than one language took shape and the trend which continued throughout our century-old cinematic history can be seen even today. Perhaps the success of the film in one language may have prompted the producers to remake and reshoot the same film with different actors and actresses and sometimes different directors depending on the language to be made.
The earliest of this trend can be seen around the year 1935-36 when P C Barua who became an overnight sensation in Bengal as an actor-director with his Bengali film Devdas decided to direct the same story in Hindi with Kundan Lal Saigal as the hero. The film became a runaway hit across the country thus exposing the story to a larger audience. Till date about 20 remakes of Devdas have been made.
Over the years there have been innumerable instances of the same story being made in these three languages. This blog-post lists 15 interesting films which were made in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu and were all successful at the box-office. The post focuses on some songs from the different versions and one observes that sometimes the tunes have been copied exactly (Woh Kaun Thi?, Bhabhi, Pooja ke Phool, etc.) and sometimes only the costumes worn by the actors have been replicated (Sita aur Gita, Don, etc.), while in some others only the situation is common and tune and picturization of song is different (Pyar Kiye Ja).
- HINDI- Woh Kaun Thi? (1964)
The film is a psychological mystery thriller which starts on a stormy night when a doctor gives a lift to an unknown girl who gets dropped at a cemetery. The gates mysteriously open on their own and after the girl enters he hears a song. Later when he is called upon to attend to a patient he finds that the dead patient’s face (she is already dead by the time he reaches) resembles the unknown girl he had met. The Hindi thriller directed by Raj Khosla was released first and later remade in Tamil and Telugu. The haunting tunes composed by music director Madan Mohan for the Hindi film were retained in the Tamil and Telugu versions as well.
Song: ‘Lag ja gale ke phir yeh haseen raat ho na ho…’
Sadhana, Manoj Kumar
TAMIL- Yaar Nee? (1966)
TELUGU- Aame Evaru? (1966)
Jayalalitha, Kongara Jaggaiah
- HINDI: Do Kaliyan (1968)
The hero and heroine meet, fall in love and after marriage are blessed with twin baby girls. But their marriage faces hurdles due to interference from heroine’s mother. One day the hero decides to walk out with one of the baby girls and so the children grow up in different atmospheres and with one parent each. A few years later they meet in the school and devise a plan to bring their parents together.
The Tamil film was made first followed by Telugu and then came the Hindi film. In both the Tamil and Telugu versions we have the same child artiste as well as heroine reprising their respective roles.
Song: ‘Bachche man ke sachhe saare jag ki aankh ke taare…’
Baby Sonia, Mala Sinha, Biswajit
TAMIL: Kuzhandaiyum Deivamum (1965)
Kutti Padmini, Jamuna, Jaishankar
TELUGU: Letha Manasulu (1966)
Kutti Padmini, Jamuna, Harnath
- HINDI- Pooja Ke Phool (1966)
The hero is given shelter in the heroine’s house where she and her father are both lawyers. They fall in love and their marriage is fixed but by a twist of fate, he is forced to marry a blind girl back in his village. She happens to be the sister of the evil village goon whom the hero’s sister wants to marry. The heroine here is a wonderful character who not only forgives him but also defends him when he is arrested on a murder charge he did not commit.
The Tamil film came first followed by Telugu and much later the Hindi version was made
Song: ‘Meeow meow meri sakhi, achhi achhi meri sakhi…’
Ashok Kumar, Mala Sinha, Dharmendra, Nimmi
TAMIL- Kumudam (1961)
S V Ranga Rao, C R Vijayakumari, S S Rajendran, Sowcar Janaki
TELUGU-Manchi Manasalu (1962)
S V Ranga Rao, Savitri, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Sowcar Janaki
Interestingly while the original in Tamil had the kitten, it was replaced by a pigeon in Telugu but the kitten was brought back for the Hindi version
- HINDI- Main Chup Rahoongi (1962)
A typical family drama of the sixties, the heroine gets pregnant before marriage with the hero’s child but her father takes a promise from her not to tell about this to anyone. They leave town and when she delivers a baby boy her father lies to her that it was a still born child and goes and puts the child in an orphanage. Years later by a quirk of fate not only does the heroine end up as a teacher in the same orphanage the hero also gets to meet the child. After a lot of melodrama everything is set right. The child artistes of the films were the real stars as they deliver superlative performances in all three languages.
(An interesting trivia about the song: In all the three versions prayer sung in the orphanage by the children has almost the same tune is the same and the meaning of the words is also more or less the same. However the deity in front of whom they are singing changes in accordance with the language/region they represent. In the Hindi version it is Lord Krishna, in the Tamil version it is Lord Kartikeya (also called Lord Murugan) and in the Telugu version it is Lord Balaji.)
Song: ‘Tumhi ho maata pita tumhi ho, tumhi ho bandhu sakha tumhi ho…’
Master Babloo, Meena Kumari, Sunil Dutt
TAMIL- Kalathhur Kannamma (1960)
Master Kamal Haasan, Gemini Ganesan, Savitri
The film won the Certificate of Merit by the Government of India, and the President’s Gold Medal award for Master Haasan.
TELUGU- Mooga Nomu (1969)
Master Brahmaji, Jamuna, Akkineni Nageswara Rao
- HINDI- Brahmachari (1968)
The hero who himself is an orphan who runs an orphanage with many children and earns money by working as a photographer. One day he rescues a girl from committing suicide and decides to unite her with the man she loves. But he soon finds out that this man is a womanizer and has no good intent in his heart and decides to expose him. The villain in turn kidnaps the orphanage children leading to a thrilling climax. The film turned out to be a super entertainer and was packed with excellent music. Shammi Kapoor put his heart and soul into the role and won his first Filmfare award for Best Actor.
Song: ‘Main gaoon tum so jao such sapnon mein kho jao…’
Shammi Kapoor, Rajashri
TAMIL- Enga Mama (1970)
Sivaji Ganesan, Vanisri,
TELUGU- Devudu Mamayya (1981)
Shoban Babu, Vanisri
Only the audio version of the Telugu song is there on YouTube.
- HINDI: Miss Mary, 1957
Directed by L V Prasad, this 1955 social comedy was a success in all three languages. While it was shot simultaneously in Tamil and Telugu, it was later remade in Hindi also in 1957. The actress Jamuna was common in all three versions and actor Gemini Ganesan played the hero in both the Tamil and Hindi version. In fact he made his debut in Hindi cinema with this film. Actor NTR played the hero’s role in the Telugu version.
The song chosen here is almost a frame to frame replica in all three versions and has the same tune as well…
Song- ‘Brindavan ka Krishna Kanhaiyya…’
Meena Kumari, Gemini Ganesan, Jamuna
TAMIL: Missiamma, 1955
Savitri, Gemini Ganesan, Jamuna
Savitri, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Jamuna
7. HINDI: DEVDAS (1955)
This eternal tragic love story based on Saratchandra Chatterjee’s classic novel Devdas remains an eternal favourite of our industry. When childhood friends Devdas and Paro grow up and develop feelings for each other, their families are against their marriage as they do not belong to the same caste. Paro is married off to a wealthy widower with grown-up children and Devdas becomes an alcoholic. He is befriended by a prostitute who gets transformed in her one-sided love for him but Devdas’s heart beats only for his Paro. Though the lovers never meet and the ending is tragic, the image of Devdas remains etched in every cine-goer’s heart even today.
The song chosen here is sung when Devdas and Paro are kids and enjoying their innocent friendship unaware of the tragedy that awaits them in the future…
Song- ‘ O albele panchi tera door thikana hai…’
TAMIL: Devadas (1953)
TELUGU: Devadasu (1953)
- HINDI: Bhabhi, (1957)
The film Bhabhi in 1957 was a remake of the Tamil film Kuladeivam (1956) which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil of that year. Well directed by Krishnan Panju, it was a socially relevant family drama with a touching story, pleasing music and excellent performances from the cast. Pandari Bai essays the role of the mother in both Tamil and Hindi versions. While Balraj Sahni plays her husband in Hindi, Sahasranamam is her husband in Tamil. The film was a commercial and critical success in all languages.
Actor Jagdeep plays Balraj Sahni’s youngest brother who is an important character and gets plenty of screen time. He comes up with a brilliant performance and it is sad to think that this talented actor was later relegated to playing only comedy roles!
Song- ‘Chal ud ja re panchi ke ab yeh desh hua begana…’
Balraj Sahni, Jagdeep, Pandari Bai, Nanda, Shyama
TELUGU: Kuladeivam, 1960
Rajagopal, Sahasranamam, S S Rajendran, Chandrababu, S A Ashokan, Vijayakumari
Here is an 8-minute video clip with the song in both Telugu and Hindi versions. The Telugu song is sung by Ghantasala and the Hindi version by Mohammed Rafi. The tunes are exactly the same in both versions. The Telugu song comes first and at 4min 25 sec, the Hindi song starts…
TAMIL: Kuladeivam, 1956
Rajagopal, Sahasranamam, S S Rajendran, Chandrababu, S A Ashokan, Vijayakumari
- HINDI- Pyar Kiye Ja (1966)
A delightful romantic comedy directed by C V Sridhar, the film was first made in Tamil and then reshot in Hindi and Telugu. A wealthy widower lives with his two daughters and a son in a big estate and wants to get his daughters married off to boys from families wealthier than him. Ironically nothing turns out the way he plans and his daughters fall in love with guys who don’t meet his approval. Much to his chagrin he even ends up getting conned by them. Misunderstandings are cleared to pave way for a happy ending.
Song: ‘Phool ban jaaungi shart yeh hai magar…’
Shashi Kapoor, Kalpana, Kishore Kaumar, Om Prakash, Mehmood, Mumtaz
TAMIL- Kadhalikka Neramillai (1964)
S. Balaiah, R. Muthuraman, Nagesh, Rajasree, Sachu, Ravichandran ,Kanchana.
TELUGU-Preminchi Choodu (1965)
Akkineni Nageshwara Rao, Jaggaiah, Rajasree, Kanchana
- HINDI- Don (1978)
This blockbuster film became an important landmark in the career of Amitabh Bachchan where he gets to play two look-alikes – a simpleton in the city and a cold-blooded criminal Don. One day during a police encounter Don is killed and only the Police Commissioner knows this truth. He hides this fact from his own Department and trains the simpleton to masquerade as the Don and get information for the police. But things do go awry and there are plenty of twists and action scenes to make it an unforgettable film.
Song: ‘Yeh mera dil pyar ka deewana…’
Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Ifthekar, Pran
TAMIL- Billa (1980)
Rajnikant, Sripriya, Balaji, Thengai Srinivasan
Incidentally while we have Helen in the Tamil version also singing the song in a different costume, the lady in the Telugu version imitates Helen’s dress but is nowhere near Helen in either her appearance or her dancing!
Telugu- Yugandhar (1982)
NTR, Jaysudha, Jagayya, Satyanarayana
Here is another song from the same film – In the Hindi version, Amitabh’s dance in the song became a super-hit and remains a favourite to this day. But neither the Tamil nor Telugu versions were a patch on the Hindi song. While Rajnikant copies Amitabh’s costume but sings a different song, NTR in Telugu copied the tune of the Hindi version but chose to wear a different dress. Dancing by both these actors was not impressive at all…
Song: ‘Khaike Paan Banaraswala khuli jaaye band akal ka taala…’
Same tune but terrible dancing and heroine is relegated to just a few seconds of screen time
- HINDI: Prem Nagar, 1974
Produced by D Rama Naidu and directed by K S Prakash Rao, the story of this romantic family drama revolves around the transformation of the alcoholic and womanising hero into a better person by the heroine who works as his caretaker and succeeds in understanding his inner turmoils. Titled Prema Nagar in Telugu, it was remade as Vasantha Maligai in Tamil and Prem Nagar in Hindi and all the three heroes- Rajesh Khanna, Shivaji Ganesan and Akkini Nageshwar Rao benefitted immensely from the success of the film. While Hema Malini was the heroine in Hindi, Vanisri reprised the heroine’s role in both the Tamil and Telugu version.
The song chosen here is sung by the heroine at a poignant moment in the film when she decides to enter the music room and play the ‘Veena’ which has remained untouched for many years…
Song- ‘Yeh kaisa sur mandir hai jisme sangeet nahin…’
Rajesh Khanna, Hema Malini
TELUGU: Prema Nagar, 1971
Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Vanisri
TAMIL :Vasantha Maligai, 1972
Sivaji Ganesan, Vanisri
- HINDI: Seeta Aur Geeta, 1972
The story of identical twin sisters separated at birth and growing up in different places under different circumstances in different families proved to be a super-hit formula which was made in all three languages. The song I have chosen is identically shot in all three languages and even the costumes worn by the stars are identical! The film was turning point in Hema Malini’s career and catapulted he into the numero Uno position .
Song- ‘Hawa ke saath saath ghata ke sang sang…’
Hema Malini, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar
TELUGU: Ganga Manga, 1973
Vanisri, Shoban Babu, Krishna
TAMIL: Vani Rani, 1974
Vanisri, Shivaji Ganesan, Muthuraman
- HINDI: Yaadon Ki Baraat (1973)
An entertaining musical thriller complete with action, drama, revenge and emotion, the film became a trendsetter in Bollywood. An honest man witnesses a robbery but unfortunately to prevent him from testifying in court, the gangsters kill him and his wife. Their three young sons who witness this get separated and grow up under different circumstances. the eldest one takes to crime only to realize later that his boss is actually the murderer of their parents.
The youngest brother forms a band and sings the song taught by their mother in the hope of reuniting with his brothers. In the song, All three brothers come together but the eldest is not able to give away his identity as he is a criminal now.
Song- ‘Yaadon ki baraat nikli hai aaj dil ke dwaare…’
Dharmendra, Vijay Arora, Tariq Hussain, Zeenat Aman, Ajit
TAMIL: Naalai Namadhe (1975)
MGR, Chandramohan, Latha, Nambiar
Interestingly MGR is seen in a double role playing the first and second brother! Wonder how he didn’t play triple role taking on the third brother as well! (In the remake of Zanjeer, he played both Pran and Amitabh Bachchan’s roles!)
TELUGU: Annadammula Anubandham (1975)
N T Rama Rao, Murali Mohan, Nandamuri Balakrishna, Latha
Here the Hindi tune is copied verbatim unlike the Tamil version.
- HINDI- Don:The Chase Begins (Remake of the 1978 Don) (2006)
In 2006, director Farhan Akhtar decided to remake Amitabh Bachchan’s super-hit 1978 classic Don from a new perspective with ShahRukh Khan playing the double role. Needless to say, the story underwent major changes but some songs of the originals were remixed and added to the narrative. The innocent ‘paanwala’ gets killed and the criminal Don escapes. Though the film was a big hit, it lacked the chutzpah and charm of its original. At the same time the Tamil and Telugu maker also decided to remake the original Billa with new actors and we had the movie in all three languages just like its predecessor.
Song: ‘Main hoon Don…’
ShahRukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra
TAMIL- Billa (2009)
TELUGU- Billa (2009)
Prabhas, Anushka Shetty
- HINDI- Rowdy Rathore (2012)
The film is an action packed thriller which involves two look-alikes- a thief and a Deputy Commissioner of Police. The DCP’s small daughter mistakes the thief to be her father and some goons beat up the thief thinking him to be the DCP. The film with all the ingredients of a solid entertainer like action, intrigue, comedy, good songs and excellent performances was a super-hit in all three languages.
Song- ‘Chintata chita chita chinta tata…’
Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha
TAMIL- Sirudai (2011)
Karthi and Tamannah
TELUGU- Vikramarkudu (2006)
Interestingly, the recent super success of the blockbuster Telugu film Bahubali: The Beginning and Bahaubali: The Conclusion proved beyond doubt that there is no need to re-shoot the whole film in another language with different actors. The makers of this film just dubbed the dialogues and released the film in multiple languages and the film proved to be a super-hit in all languages. The actors Prabhas, Rana Daggubatti, Sathyaraj, Anushka Shetty and Ramya were appreciated in all languages and the talent of these brilliant artistes came to fore for the whole nation to appreciate. Had they been remade with a different set of stars then most of the magic would have been lost and the result would certainly not have been the same.