A remake is always going to be a double edged sword. People will either trash you or worship you for making the current generation aware of how classics used to be made in Bollywood.
Mukul Anand’s Agneepath, although somewhat inspired by Scarface, was a film way ahead of it’s time in the 90’s. Amitabh’s experiment with his voice was something which did not gel with the masses then, but the film becoming a cult classic later is proof that one can try to suppress a genuinely good product, but you can’t ignore it for too long! Agneepath was one film which did away with conforming to standards and showed the world, what a truly world class product was being offered by the 2 stalwarts of that era….
It was always going to be difficult for director Karan Malhotra, producer Karan Johar and Hrithik to fill up the shoes of the earlier version.
I was very sceptical about this film, since there was always the burden as to how Hrithik would fit into the Big shoes of the BIG B. So this is not the middle aged ganglord Vijay Dinanath Chauhan that we see, but a gangster Viju, rising up the ranks to reach his goal.
The cinematography by Kiran Deohans is brilliant. The entire Mandwa chapter is shot as poetry in motion. Full marks for the same. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the editing by Akiv Ali. There are portions post interval, wherein you feel the narration taking a dip, and just want to get on with the story. For example, when Rauf emerges from the hospital, there is no basis for him to consider Vijay a traitor yet. It is only post that does he realise that Vijay has left for Mandwa, so there was something amiss there.
Music by Ajay – Atul is in sync with the film’s narrative. The Shah ka Rutba and Deva Shree Ganesha being my personal favourites. Chikni has already become a rage, so one doesn’t have to comment on that!
Choreography by Ganesh is energetic and top notch. Whereas for all the rumours about a body double being used for Kat, we leave it to you to decide.
Sabu Cyril does an excellent job in the production design. Be it Rauf’s bidding ground, Viju’s locality or Kancha’s den, be it the currency notes of the 70s era, the vintage cars or the Mumbai of the 70s.
Om Puri does a competent job for a role which immortalised Vikram Gokhale. But his characterisation is too weak, and hence he comes across as a weaker Gaitonde! Why does he have a soft corner for Vijay, is something which is again left unexplained. He himself states to the Home Ministry officials that the only photograph of Vijay in the police records is of Vijay as a 15 year old! But Vijay is shown walking in and out of his office / home regularly!
Zarina Wahab according to me was a miscast! To compare her with Rohini Hattangadi, would be an insult to Rohini’s stellar performance. Again, it is the lack of characterisation to be blamed, coupled with ‘the wrong person for the wrong job’ scene. Again, when Rauf kidnaps Shiksha and she does arrive at the scene, she is least bothered about Shikhsha, since she doesn’t seem to be searching for her at all! It is only when Shiksha approaches her, does she acknowledge her missing daughter. Something amiss again.
Sachin Khedekar does an okay job! Priyanka Chopra is irritating in the first half. You just wish the editor could have chopped her scenes outright since she only breaks the flow of the otherwise tight narrative! Her pre-wedding scene is the only one which makes you feel for her character and rightfully so!
So it boils down to the BIG 3…..
The first 40 minutes of the film rightfully belongs to Kancha! Sanjay Dutt couldn’t have asked for a better role post Munnabhai. His Voldemort / Marlon Brando inspired look only adds more eerie enigma to his character. From the minute you see his silhouette enter on screen, till the climax, you are enthralled by his performance. Be it his reciting the Bhagwad Gita or killing people. His only interaction with Rauf is also brilliant! I have never seen Sanjay enjoy himself so much ever since his Kaante..and that is a decade ago! This man loves to be bad, (we aint talking Munnabhai series here) and no one does it as bad as him.
Hrithik, Hrithik….Hrithik….the more you speak about this person, the more you risk belittling him. He not only takes Vijay D. C. and adapts it to his own, HE OWNS THIS VIJAY! His eyes speak a million words throughout the film! In his interactions with the characters, you can see his genius…his ‘brotherly love’ for Mazhar, admiration for Rauf, contempt for Kancha, respect for Gationde, love for Kaali, angst towards Suhasini or protectiveness for Shiksha! The interval shot, the handshake with Kancha, the first punch at Rauf….terrific. I was one of the few of the opinion that an Ajay Devgn could have played a better middle aged Vijay, but Hrtihik proves that this Viju, belongs to him!
Rishi Kapoor is the piece de resistance in this film. The menace in his eyes, whilst killing his assassin, whilst standing in the lineup, while announcing Vijay’s fate to Mazhar! The way he ridicules Kancha, the manner in which he dances, just makes today’s generation realise that these were and ARE true stars! He steals the show from the entire crowd here. Forget awards, he is the true star of the film! So if there is no other reason for you to watch the film, see it for Rishi Kapoorl
A film is always a director’s medium. It is always the director’s vision or the lack of it, which makes a film what it is. And Karan Malhotra must take a bow! The film as projected in its promos, is dark, gritty and hard hitting! Making stalwarts like Rishi Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt portray the roles in the manner that they have done, does require a certain amount of genuine talent and it is at display here. Kudos to Karan Jo, for producing this remake!
What should you do….go watch Agneepath!
YusuF Poonawala is an independent writer who authors The Y Factor , a blog where he reviews movies, English and Hindi. Explore his passion for cinema with reviews and everything around them.