At the time of writing, Money Heist is the number-one Netflix show in Pakistan in terms of viewership. There’s a good chance that would continue to be the case by the time you read this – by when many of you might actually have watched the latest season.
Money Heist is one of a number of Spanish-language thrillers on Netflix right now. Elite, whose latest season aired last month, is another. Gran Hotel, almost a vintage classic now, given that it is nearly a decade old and has since had an English language remake as well, is also available on Netflix.
Of course, our focus here would be more on shows and movies from our part of the world, here in South Asia. However, for the next couple of weeks, you’ll see a tangible Spanish connection.
For, we’ll be reviewing, back to back, two Hindi remakes of Spanish films – both released in 2019; both available on Netflix; both thrillers; both originally written and directed by Oriol Paulo.
This week we’ll discuss The Body, a remake of the 2012 classic El Cuerpo – or The Body – which stars Rishi Kapoor, Emraan Hashmi and Sobhita Dhulipala in the three main roles.
Now, even though we will make it a point to maintain as much distance from spoilers as possible, we would strongly recommend that you watch the 2012 original before the remake. That way you’ll understand the frustration that will follow in the coming lines.
El Cuerpo wasn’t just one of the greatest thrillers – any language – of the 2010s, it remains one of the greatest mystery thrillers in the history of movies. Unfortunately, discussing what made it exhilaratingly special would still be a spoiler of sorts. Hence, we’d rather you embark on 107 minutes of cinematic – and perhaps even more so, screenwriting – brilliance.
Therefore, it is absolutely mindboggling that a remake of that film, which narrated the exact same story – with a few minor, and largely irrelevant, changes – has turned out with such a contrasting effect.
The Body is about a woman’s dead body going missing from the morgue before autopsy. The husband, a natural suspect in most cases, has multiple reasons to do away with her. The inspector on the case is certain that he has his man. The film plays out overnight with the husband adamant that his wife is actually alive.
In the case of the Hindi remake you will see a gigantic disparity in the acting abilities across the board. Rishi Kapoor, a veteran, and Emraan Hashmi, almost tailor-made for his role, still look miles apart when you compare them to Jose Coronado and Hugo Silva, as the inspector and the husband, respectively. Sobhita Dhulipala, as the wife, perhaps shines the brightest in the juxtaposition.
Even so, the remake’s greatest flaw was the original’s principal strength. The ending – which, again, is the same in both instances – hits you with so much more vigour in the original.
And the reason for that, one feels, is quite simple, even if it can’t be completely discussed without spoiling the storyline for the readers.
Let’s just say that the defining aspect of any mystery is not just how shocking the final reveal is, but in how much of the solution was there in front of you all along.
The greatest mystery writers knew how to distribute the clues with the red herrings, and what to conceal. If you don’t show any of your cards, it’s more bluff than thrill. The Body’s remake hides quite a few of those cards, which the original put on the table.
Some might argue that perhaps not watching the original would help one enjoy the remake more, since one would be doing away with the comparisons. But in that case you will be spoiling for yourself one of the greatest mystery films of all-time!
El Cuerpo put Oriol Paulo on the map, who has since gone on to direct a few more acclaimed Spanish thrillers, including Mirage and Contratiempo (English title: The Invisible Guest). Both of these are available on Netflix.
Next week, however, we will be discussing Badla, a remake of Contratiempo. Not only does Contratiempo, or The Invisible Guest, take thrills to even higher levels than El Cuerpo, in Badla it finds a worthy remake as well.