It seems like a widening of the net when mainstream Hindi cinema picks a Danish film, Sorte Kugler (2009), for a remake. It is also easy to see why Thank God director Indra Kumar would be attracted to the original.

Anders Matthesen’s Sorte Kugler lends itself to a smooth Indian adaptation – the concept of Chitragupta, or the celestial account-keeper of human karma, is a part of Hindu mythology. The adaptation also allows for an unabashedly kitschy production design, since Indra Kumar’s films are not exactly known for their subtlety.

Ayaan (Sidharth Malhotra) is a greedy real estate broker whose black money empire is ruined by demonetisation. A car crash takes Ayaan to the lair of Chitragupta aka CG (Ajay Devgan). Ayaan has to account for the misdeeds of his life, which, in the larger scheme of evil in the world, seem like tiny faults. Being envious of his police officer wife (Rakul Preet Singh) or not attending his kid’s PTA meeting are hardly hanging offenses.

Heaven looks like a giant dish from the outside and a garish TV show set inside. CG’s purgatory has been designed as a game show, which, he says was copied by “that tall actor” when he was briefly in there earlier. CG is dressed not in the shiny satin-and-gilt costumes familiar from mythological films and television but in natty suits. Yamdoot has on a bow tie and suspenders; the apsaras look like cheerleaders.

There is an explanation behind these sartorial choices: it’s the age of Amazon Prime, not Doordarshan. There are screens playing scenes from Ayaan’s life, and audiences that evaluate his good and evil deeds. All of this accompanied by loud background music.

The humour of the original film has been replaced by excessive verbosity and finger-wagging. The film even accommodates a Nora Fatehi dance number and a sacrificing mother (Seema Pahwa).

Thank God is tacky 1980s style Bollywood in the “Netflix ka zamana”, to paraphrase a line from the film. The only actor who seems to be having some fun is Ajay Devgn, who wears his fancy dress costumes well and delivers corny lines deadpan.

Thank God (2022).