An open letter to Shah Rukh Khan from a “Breaking Bad” fan

Published: December 17, 2015
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Out of all that Hollywood has to offer, why do you need to destroy this amazing show?

Dear Mr Shah Rukh Khan,

Recently, I came across news that you plan on re-making Breaking Bad. Into… a Bollywood movie. At that very moment, I felt like someone had reached down my throat, grabbed my intestine and twisted it. 

If my above statement didn’t give it away, I am a diehard fan of AMC’s hit show Breaking Bad. For me, it is the most epic show in the history of television. There’s something very addictive about it; it leaves you begging for more. Surprisingly, the show’s plot is very simple, where the characters hatch completely unanticipated schemes episode after episode.

The show is full of ingenious ideas and situations. Its characteristics have made this show one of its kind. The plot twists, cliff hangers and its signature art of storytelling forced viewers to tune in for more. I made up an excuse to avoid a social gathering so I could watch its first episode at home. I ended up binge-watching the show till 3 am with blood shot eyes.

I keep trying to comprehend how I feel about the show’s ending. It feels like losing a friend or having your pet die on you. I still have strong imprints of it engraved in my brain. Whenever I walk by a covered house, I instantly conclude that it’s a meth lab and my husband plays along (he, too, is a fan).

This is why I feel like Bollywood should stay far away from it. Out of all that Hollywood has to offer, why do you need to destroy this amazing show?

Bollywood has already tarnished many of my favourite films.

Such as:

Dead Poets Society” that transformed into “Mohabbatein”.

Léon: The Professional” to “Bichhoo”.

While You Were Sleeping” to “Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega”.

Bruce Almighty” to God Tussi Great Ho

The list us inexhaustible.

All the Hollywood plot outlines they copied had a rating greater than six points while the remakes barely made it to more than four points.

The idea that Heisenberg could be saying “naam to suna hoga” (“You must’ve heard my name”) makes me cringe. I feel sorry for Vince Gilligan who will have to suffer through the trauma of seeing the Bollywood version of his awe-inspiring show.

Breaking Bad gained its popularity due to its lead character, “Walter White”. He was a very interesting, yet complicated character. Vince Gilligan sat through major brainstorming sessions to bring out the Heisenberg in a simple chemistry teacher.

Most of us believe that good and evil belong to different sets of people but Walter White showed us that it doesn’t work that way. He never failed to deliver sensitive yet vital lessons about knowledge, the human ego and embracing change in different phases of life. The fact of the matter is that the Indian cinema has not really grappled with the complexities of morality. Every Indian movie has a hero who is pure, represents everything that is good in the world, and a villain; someone who represents all the evils.

Walter White, although was dealing in meth, was the show’s hero – not the villain.

Indian audiences would have difficulty understanding and appropriating such a character; which is why you have said that you will create a diluted version of the show.

Consider this for a moment: What was the show without the moral dilemmas that surrounded Walter White’s actions?

Without that scintillating edge, the show was about a guy dying of cancer trying to help his family out. The reason that the series was able to secure such fandom was because we were drawn to the immorality of the moral family man.

Yes, you might just ask me to not watch the Bollywood version if it pains me that much. But just the knowledge that the legacy of the show has been tarnished with item songs and shady dialogue would be enough to send me over the edge.

Bollywood is terribly formulaic. I admit that it works for some films, but if Breaking Bad is run through the mill, whatever churns out will not be the brilliance we have experienced for five terrific seasons.

So hear me out, please.

Stick to stuff like “Dil Wale”.

Remember the last time you tried to do something different?

Yeah. “Ra-One” happened. We all regret that now, don’t we?

Sincerely,

A true “Breaking Bad” Pakistani fan.

rakshinda.mujeeb

Rakshinda Mujeeb

Researcher by profession, writer by choice. She also works as a content writer for an NGO. She enjoys the impact her articles have on readers.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • GoodFella

    Lost you at “The most epic show in the history of television”.
    You’re so wrong. The Sopranos, The Wire, The Simpsons and Game of Thrones are all better.Recommend

  • Allah Hafiz

    Yes Yes,

    Shahrukh make all his films keeping in mind pakistani audiences and muslims of pakistan….infact next time he will consult with pakistani muslims….what he should make and what not…i also think and dream that one day pakistani will be atleast able to remake a hollywood film or a serial which may cost you around 200-500 crore paki rs….he can take risk…he is a billionaire…had he been in pakistan…he would have been selling khajoor……Recommend

  • wb

    Good blog.

    Most Bollywood blockbusters garbage are either remake like Sholay or utter crap like DDLJ.

    If South Asians had a bit of common sense, before banning beef or alcohol or drugs etc, Bollywood would have been banned. it is ruining the Subcontinent.Recommend

  • Someone

    Awwwww is anyone asking you to watch Shahrukhs version of breaking bad??? Get a life.Recommend

  • iva

    nailed it, excellent postRecommend

  • SRK

    A big portion of Indians do not have access to Hollywood. Even if they do , a lot of them I bet do not understand the basics let alone the cultural nuances being portrayed in serials like breaking-bad. They may not be as modern and ‘western’ as you.
    Somebody has to take the Hollywood piece and translate it and customize it for the Indian masses. Why not let them at least try? The Indian market place decides what is a hit and what is not. The viewers vote with their money. There is a big market for such copies and hence a big segment of Bollywood keeps producing copies of hits from other markets like Hollywood and South Indian films.
    Folks like you obviously should not be watching such copy book pieces of art when you have access to the originals. But if it ails you to even know that a ‘copy’ is out there – well, there is no cure for that. I think it is a self inflicted wound!Recommend

  • Yasir

    Thank you for this letter Rakshinda, it perfectly described my sentiments.. Hopefully it reaches SRK…Recommend

  • salman

    Dead Poets Society” that transformed into “Mohabbatein”.

    Disagree….apart from both being set in a college, the plots were vastly different.

    “But just the knowledge that the legacy of the show has been tarnished…”
    Er ,no…the legacy of the show is the legacy of the show….the proposed Bollywood remake will have no effect on it. And who knows, the remake might be good :)Recommend

  • Vikram

    Rakshinda Mujeeb: You are not well versed with India. While you are right in saying that BOLLYWOOD, by and large, sees the world as black and white in classic escapist cinema, that is not true for INDIAN CINEMA which consists of movies made in pretty much all Indian languages. Take a look at Malayalam cinema, some Tamil cinema, some Marathi cinema etc before you talk of “Indian cinema” and make generalizations. Aside, Telugu cinema is worse than Bollywood on this score.

    More importantly, while Bollywood is to a large extent black and white, Indians are used to shades of grey because every Indian is fed on a steady diet of the Mahabharata which is the most intricate, complex, grey and enchanting book/story one can ever read. So I don’t think that will be a problem if Shahrukh chooses to implement it in letter and spirit(although he wont).

    So when it comes to India, be careful with the syntax, semantics and nomenclature if you are really particular about accuracy.Recommend

  • KB

    What makes you compare apples and oranges?Recommend

  • Hasan

    Oh god! Is this for real? Where did you hear such a horrid rumor?Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    “Bollywood has already tarnished many of my favourite films.”

    If you had not seen all the movies which you mentioned right after the above statement, you would not have had to take the pain of writing such a long piece about bollywood’s incompetence.Recommend

  • shiraaz mohan

    Sure I agree. Let breaking bad be. Though in all likelihood this is just a rumor like the news of game of thrones remake was. Also Bollywood isn’t as bad as you make it out to be. As long as you stick to the Khans and consider them and their movies as the only representation of bollywood, owing to your own prejudices, your views on bollywood are unlikely to change. Rest assured Bollywood does produce movies that go beyond caricaturized formulaic cinema that you dislike :) .Recommend

  • Jurassic

    Thats why I hate Bollywood, they turn masterpieces into garbage.Recommend

  • Allah Hafiz

    Why dont you tell this man shahrukh to visit you guys….he will never even give you are grass to eat….let him do his work for indians…pakistanis need to see their new movies..maula jatt/warr etc..etc..Recommend

  • ABC

    SPOT on. I cant see Heisenberg dancing on cheap item songs of Bollywood. Please stop ruining good Hollywood stories by converting them into cheap Bollywood copiesRecommend

  • Essa Hunzai

    Agreed (Y)Recommend

  • Arbit

    So while you are questioning the ability of Indian audience to understand and appreciate such a character, and at the same time congratulating yourself on your superlative understanding. And at the same time watching all flop movies like Bicchu, God tussi great ho which people in india also didn’t watch. You know which word comes to mind right.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Agree, agree……..I almost missed my flight because I refused to shut the TV half way through an episode of Breaking Bad.
    But there’s no harm in letting Sharuk experiment. But if he’s smart, which he is, he should not imitate, he should use the theme but be original…..and that’s a challenge.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    You forgot to mention one of the worst remake since the inception of films. “Memento-GHAJINI”. They friggin made one of the most genius films that I have ever seen into one of their senseless musicals. GHAJINI is perhaps the biggest insult to Director Christopher Nolan’s intelligent piece of work . I felt my intellectual level crashing down to that of a Bollywood Masala flick level when I saw GHAJINI . And For many Indians this is Art?????Recommend

  • Headstrong

    Don’t like it? Don’t watch it! That’s not rocket science or chemistry – just common senseRecommend

  • Shakeel

    If they wreck Breaking Bad I hope AMC suit the pants of them.Recommend

  • Mohsin

    True. Breaking Bad seems like a kids show when compared with The Sopranos and The Wire.Recommend

  • maynotmatter

    @Rakshinda Mujeeb.. simply don’t watch it. Let us ruin what we love to ruin. This is why you guys are popular for being intolerant. You cant even handle the idea that someone is remaking someone else’s art of work.Recommend

  • Najeeb Shah

    You are comparing SRK , to a Tv actor of the west ? best show on earth ? get over your self . The fact remains this film will earn millions in just a week and your self included will watch it regardless

    Ra one was a success at the box office ,and trying different things is what makes things great . Recommend

  • Milind A

    Spot on!!! Indians especially Hindus have been used to shades of grey, hence Hinduism doesn’t see those clashes despite different interpretations of scriptures and multitude of sects.. The only issue with SRK making movies, is it has lot of masala and a diarrhea of emotions. Add to it his narcissistic, self-importance being brought out in the film (This applies to Amir Khan as well).Recommend

  • Milind A

    “For many Indians this is Art?????”

    Wrong!!! For many Indians this is Entertainment.. You can’t expect multitudes to be art connoisseurs … It requires a refined attitudes & appreciation which is rare.. And this art comes out in regional movies or through stage/character actors.Recommend

  • Milind A

    Spot on and in-your-face as usual!!! The herd mentality is pathetic as after a promo and launch you see hordes turning into theatres.Recommend

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    Indian movie industry is huge, there are good and crap. These are not meant of education or getting PHD degrees. These are for entertainment only. You may find something intellectual, somewhere too much dramatic scenes, too much heroic scenes, too much style. You probably misunderstood purpose of cinema. if you dont like , dont watch. Watch it , forget it. But you are watching all bollywood movies, and collect crap and preset that bundle of crap to readers ! If those movies didnt help people to enhance their intellect level, didnt promote environmental issues, didnt tell about oxygen on Mars, then your article too didnt.Recommend

  • Ayush Arora

    I’m cringing at reading the negative responses towards that letter of so many readers.

    Can’t help but agree with Rakshinda, word to word. I can’t imagine how terrible it would be for all Breaking Bad fans all over the world to watch this masterpiece crumble to ruins and get converted to this incomprehensible mess that I’d be puking on.

    However while reading this, I realized how much all these obnoxious people who watch these weird ass soap operas and shitty Bollywood movies need a spice of stuff like Breaking Bad. Or The Wire. Game of Thrones. A hollywood movie. SOMETHING. Not Dilwale, or Bajrangbaliwhatever crap is out there in the theaters. Maybe broadcast it on a channel they watch that bs on. They need better shit in their lives.Recommend

  • Laura Enright

    Ra One was a good movie. And I love superhero movies. I have no regrets about that.

    Also, let’s say for the sake of argument that Bollywood isn’t able to handle the concepts found in Breaking Bad and deliver complicated characters (which is kind of a sweeping statement that isn’t completely accurate). So…that means creative people in India should never ever try to do that? You mention the “black and white” characters in Bollywood movies, then you complain when people try to produce projects that address the moral ambiguity in life in Bollywood movies. Sure…makes sense to me. I guess…okay, no not really.

    And didn’t SRK sort of cut his teeth on less heroic, more complicated characters or did I misread Baaziger and Darr when I saw them. Those are much older movies, perhaps not as sophisticated, but movies in which SRK played sympathetic psychopaths (in other words, he wasn’t exactly twirling his bad guy mustache for affect). Maybe he can pull Breaking Bad off, maybe he can’t. But if a failed Bollywood redo of Breaking Bad negatively affects the Hollywood production so terribly…well then maybe your beloved Breaking Bad wasn’t that strong after all.Recommend

  • kart

    Excellent!! Very well-written. You have spoken the minds of all true breaking bad fans from across the border! I wake up in cold sweats thinking about how this talentless hack is going to butcher our beloved show! No one wants this!!

    SRK you don’t have one hair width of a talent to take on Bryan Cranston’s brilliant portrayal of Walter White. Pls spare us from the ignominy of watching (or hearing, in my case) you destroy a beloved character. Go back to running around trees, and being “Rahul” (now I see, why he is Rahul all the freakin’ time).Recommend

  • kart

    Maybe The Wire. But BB trumps the rest.Recommend

  • kart

    Western TV actor? Even if SRK reincarnates 10,000 times he cannot achieve the level of perfection achieved by Bryan Cranston in a single frame! SRK doesn’t have enough talent to fill a teaspoon, and you are comparing him to one of the best actors in the world?

    Making money?? Think in terms of a having legion of fans across the world! And no, SRK doesn’t have it!Recommend

  • Najeeb Shah

    stats talk other wiseRecommend

  • Hamza S. Fazli

    Apart from the unnecessary and below the belt references to his films at the end, a very well written and convincing article which accurately pin points exactly why it could not possibly work for anyone who admires breaking bad. I also felt like a pet died watching the finale and couldn’t detach from the show for a while. The only advice I would give SRK is to intently watch every episode and live it, breathe it, love it if he hopes to do justice to its legacy. If he is just familiar with the basic premise without even seeing the entire show and is jumping on the chance to get rights for a role that will gain him credibility as an actor then such an effort would be totally wasted. again he will fall short and not be taken seriously as an actor for his lack of judgement, If he truly wants to reinvent and be a game changer that has been his quest since years, he will have to go all out and take all the risks and break all the rules. The only changes being adjusting certain plot driving points so that they are more relatable for Indian audiences but not diluting the gut wrenching element and moral dilemma of every character on the show, making sure he doesn’t give BB fans to cringe and make memes and jokes of the film. So he will first have to love and appreciate every episode particularly the master pieces rich with material for him to pick and choose and alter for his script to be laser sharp without any compromise on the spirit of the show. This can prove to be the opportunity where he is finally able to use his position to be able to set a new trend for Hindi cinema because it is about time the audiences are ready to digest someone raising the bar,Recommend

  • Hamza S. Fazli

    wow! you schooled him there. interesting perspective.Recommend