The Korean film, released in 2013, shines light on a young woman as she becomes her father’s strength; the Turkish version, presently running in cinemas across Pakistan, isn’t quite so effective.
Miracle in Cell No. 7, a South Korean comedy-drama film, directed by Lee Hwan-Kyung, released in 2013 and became the eighth film in Korean cinema history to break the 10 million dollar mark in ticket sales. That too with no big stars and a modest budget. It was the strong narrative, crisp flow of events and the emotional connect it successfully built with viewers that led to its critical and commercial success.
However, not all of the three adaptations of the Korean film – Philippine, Indonesian and Turkish – have been able to do justice to the original story. While the Philippine and Indonesian versions drew the story on similar lines, the Turkish movie, which is currently showing in cinemas across Pakistan starting from March 13, has tweaked the narrative with additional, unnecessary characters.
Miracle in Cell No. 7 follows the life of a mentally challenged man and his little daughter. The father is accused of a crime he didn’t commit and, given his mental state, he is forced to confess to it and that eventually lands him a death penalty.
The Korean film opens with the daughter, who is all grown-up and is a lawyer now, as she visits the prison and recalls the time she spent there with her father and his mates. Then she meets those people, who are now freed from the jail, prior to the court’s proceedings. Though her father lost his life to a false accusation and failed judicial system, she had later filed an appeal to reopen the case for her father’s acquittal. As she presents the case in front of the court, viewers are taken into flashback and we learn exactly what happened that changed their lives completely.
The Turkish adaptation – titled 7 Kogustaki Mucize, however, does not give a background and quickly goes into flashback, which apparently has no connect to what follows. In this film, the father-daughter duo has a Granny, who is there to take care of the daughter for a little while when the father is away but has no role to play in the narrative. The additional characters that the film introduces in the prison do not add any value to the story; they rather make it all over the place. Only one new character is essential to the plot in the Turkish film, as he offers a turning point towards the end, which is hinted at multiple times.
With English subtitles, the Turkish film premiered in Karachi earlier this month and left viewers in tears; the father-daughter relationship gives a strong emotional appeal to the film. However, the Korean film builds more on their bond and how it strengthens as life puts them through turmoil. It is the daughter who becomes the beacon of hope for her father while in the Turkish adaptation, the daughter’s role is limited to her childhood and is less substantial.
The accusation on the father is also different in the two films. In the Korean original, he is accused of abduction, murder and rape of a child while in the Turkish adaptation, he is blamed for the child’s murder. One aspect where the Turkish film falls flat is the uneven tone of the story; what started off as a drama in the first half offers more comic moments in the latter half, with emotions occasionally taking over. The original film is a dark comedy that builds up a strong emotional affiliation with the viewer before reaching the climax.
Anyone who has watched the original film is likely to be disappointed with the Turkish version; however, those watching it in isolation will certainly connect to it. In the absence of local content and a ban on Bollywood movies in Pakistani cinemas, Miracle in Cell No. 7 is a good, one-time watch for cine-goers!