Dear Mr. Priyadarsan,
I watched Dhol last night by paying a princely sum of SGD 10. This was one of the few movies after Naksha that I was repeatedly looking at my watch to see when this movie will end.
I have been a great fan of your movies and your absolute control over the situational slapstick comedy genre. These films worked in Kerala largely due to the social milieu which always consisted of unemployed youth always trying to scrounge for a job or a few rupees, the ensemble star cast with actors like Mohanlal, Srinivasan, Innocent, Jagathi, KPAC Lalitha who could effortlessly enact the situation and of course brilliant dialogues.
Your initial forays into Hindi movies were disastrous since you could never find the right set of actors who could deliver what the Malayalam actors could. Jay Mehta (Muskurahat) , Arvind Swamy (Saat Rang Ke Sapne) , Jackie Shroff ( Gardish) all paled in comparison to Mohanlal. When you tried to use Innocent in Doli Sajake Rakhna, I could sense the struggle.
But in tinseltown, there are times when everything just clicks together beautifully. In Hera Pheri you got the casting right (Akshay, Paresh, Sunil) , the writing right ( Neeraj Vora) and the setting right. Then came the factory approach where you decided to make quick money (apparently charges Rs.3 Cr per movie) by remaking screwball comedies. This not only ensured faster cycle time and more money as well. Your one attempt to deviate from screwball to semi-serious ( Kyun Ki: a remake of Thalavattam) flopped miserably.
But now the law of diminishing returns has set in . Dhol is a classic example. There is a set of unemployed youth who always seem to be in fancy clubs, sports stadiums and plush eating joints wearing designer clothes. None of them looks needy like Mukesh and Asokan in the original Harihar Nagar. Some of the translation of the Malayali sarcastic jokes fall flat. It seems like a factory output. At best the movie gives you some chuckles. The climax time confusion with slapstick humour doesnt make you laugh anymore. Rajpal Yadav tries his best to save the movie but does sound repetitive.
The problem is you are remaking movies that were hits in Kerala in the 80s. Even Hera Pheri based in a chawl in Mumbai would now be difficult to contextualize, since these chawls have now given away to apartments. Maybe a fully rural setting like Malamaal Weekly is better to contextualize. So your business model is reaching its natural limits. I must say that David Dhawan did a better job in Partner this year than your last few attempts.
The only set of movies now left to be remade is the Mohanlal-Srinivasan series of Nadodikatu to AkaraAkara. If you can sign Akshay Kumar and Arshad Warsi together for 3 movies and command Rs.10 Cr for that, then you can make your money for next 2 yrs. I am sure this would have crossed your mind several times.
But I think the time has come for you to write Bollywood screenplays with new sources of inspiration. Do not end up as another remake factory director like K Bapiah and other such unknowns during the Jeetendra Sridevi 80s.