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By OVERLONG AND UNNECESSARILY VIOLENT, AGNEEPATH 2012 IS NOT A PATCH ON AGNEEPATH 1990 What is your favourite scene from Amitabh Bachchan’s Agneepath? Tell Pratim D. Gupta Did you like/ not like Agneepath? Tell
  • Published 28.01.12

When the original Agneepath released in 1990, it was a box-office disaster. In the next couple of decades that have followed, the film, its hero, its villain, its dialogues have all achieved a cult status. Logical explanation? Mukul Anand’s epic was ahead of its times.

By the time you read this, the new Agneepath is likely to have opened huge at the box office and be on its way to becoming an all-time blockbuster. If you have watched the film or plan to catch it soon, chances are you won’t remember its hero, its villain or any of its dialogues after a couple of weeks. Logical explanation? Karan Malhotra’s remake is just the latest cash-in offering from Bollywood’s assembly line production of masala action films.

Let’s keep it simple for you. If you are a fan of the old Agneepath or even remotely like it, you will find it hard trudging through these freshly-laid fire lines. And even if you haven’t seen the original or don’t care much for that one, you are likely to find the new Agneepath overlong, largely lacklustre and unnecessarily violent.

Blame it on the casting choice or just call it a calculated box-office call, the Karans — producer Johar and director Malhotra — completely change the pitch of the hero and hence the film. If in the original, Vijay would come running to take the bullet on his chest, the Vijay here would stage a bullet hit to win the confidence of his boss. Yes, Vijay Dinanath Chauhan is a scheming, silent sidekick to loud ganglords for a large part of Agneepath and only spells out his poora naam half an hour before closing credits. And it’s a three-hour film, with no chance of a sequel!

Why compare, you ask? Because if you want to cash in on the brand, you have to weather the thorns of comparison.

It’s not that Malhotra’s Agneepath is a Farhan Akhtarised reimagination or a Guy Ritchiesque retelling. Not only is the period shown the same — the events in the new Agneepath take place in 1992 — the remake doesn’t want to let go of the core emotions of the original — revenge for the killed father, clash of ideologies with the mother, selfless love and care for the sister.

And, of course, resuscitate and recite those magic lines from Harivansh Rai Bachchan… Tu na thamega kabhi, tu na mudega kabhi, tu na rukega kabhi/ Kar shapath, kar shapath, kar shapath/ Agneepath, agneepath, agneepath.

No, of course, you don’t hear the words in that booming baritone with a Corleone husk garnish. But you also don’t hear the rage. Or ever see the flamboyance. Appearing real and rooted, Hrithik Roshan chooses to play Vijay Chauhan with pain and pathos, almost leaning towards self-pity. With “good son” Krishnan Iyer (the inimitable Mithunda!) not around, Viju cannot possibly play his mother’s egoistic “bura beta”.

So before he finally switches to gladiator mode and pounds and pulverises anyone who comes between him and his retribution, Vijay is just a regular guy — perhaps the need of the times we are living in — seen playing with balloons and air bubbles on the beach. No, definitely not the guy who emerged from the waters in a white suit looking, for AB fans, hotter than Bo Derek!

The bad guy, though, has become larger. In size that is. Styled on Marlon Brando’s Col. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now — there’s even a rehash of the scene when Martin Sheen approaches his island (here Vijay returns to Mandwa) — Sanjay Dutt’s Kancha Cheena is scary yes, but a caricature too. Once the initial sparks die down, it’s just big eyes and khalnayak cackle in loop mode.

Making the most lasting impression is the character introduced in the remake — Rauf Lala. As Kancha’s arch-rival and Vijay’s Abbajaan, Rishi Kapoor is a knockout. His fight with Hrithik is the big moment of the film and packs more punch than the painstakingly built-up final showdown between Vijay and Kancha.

What does one say about Priyanka Chopra? In terms of screen duration, her name should appear sixth or seventh in the credits. She rings in the songs which are as redundant as her. The same, of course, cannot be said about either Katrina Kaif or her Chikni Chameli, which completely SHAKES things up in the dead-slow second half.

Also helming the background music, composer duo Ajay-Atul blanket the entire film with such a loud and deafening score that together with all that violent and bloody action, you are really exhausted by the end of it all. The images, although captured well (by Kiran Deohans and Ravi Chandran), attack with so much red and orange, the eyes hurt too.

KJo says that the box-office failure of the original Agneepath hurt his father Yash Johar so much, that they always wanted to remake it. Well, the coffers at Dharma Productions are surely overflowing this time, but this is anything but a “homage to Mukul Anand”.

If Kader Khan, the dialogue writer of Agneepath 1990, watches Agneepath 2012, he surely would sign off with: “Yeh 6ft ka original lurkaane ke liye 4 inch ka remake kam pad gaya, maloom?”

What’s new and what’s gone in Karan Malhotra’s remake of mukul anand’s cult film

When Mukul Anand’s Agneepath opens, we see Vijay’s sister as a little girl but in Karan Malhotra’s Agneepath, Vijay’s mother, played by Zarina Wahab, is pregnant at the start of the film and gives birth to Vijay’s sister Siksha (name remains same) in Mumbai, after they have been thrown out of Mandwa.

Since Siksha is a 15-year-old girl when the Agneepath action really takes off, she doesn’t need a love interest and hence there’s no Krishnan Iyer MA nariyel paaniwaala. Mithun Chakraborty’s memorable award-winning character, who pops up every time Vijay’s life is in danger, is, well, history.

While Amitabh Bachchan appears 25 minutes into the original movie, Hrithik Roshan appears only after 45 minutes in the remake. The extra 20 minutes in the first act of the new film really test your patience.

When we first meet Hrithik’s Vijay he is not the big thing like Amitabh’s Vijay was. He is the right-hand man of Mumbai’s don Rauf Lala — a character introduced in this film and played by Rishi Kapoor with aplomb — and is always scheming his way to the top of the crime chain.

Vijay Chauhan’s love interest is not a hospital nurse Mary (played by Madhavi, a big name in the south in the 1990s) but his childhood love from his Dongri chawl, Kali (played by Priyanka Chopra).

With Kapoor’s Rauf Lala and his sons — Rajesh Tandon and Deven Bhojani — in the thick of things, the small gangsters of the original Agneepath — played by the likes of Sharad Saxena and Avtar Gill — are done away with.

Commissioner Gaitonde, played by Vikram Gokhale in 1990, becomes Inspector Gaitonde here, played by Om Puri.

Kancha Cheena is not a business associate of Dinkar Rao, the Mandwa zamindar, in 2012. He is the son. The father-son relationship plays a huge factor in the new film. Between Vijay and his dead father. Between Vijay and his adopted father, Rauf Lala. Between Vijay and his father figure, Inspector Gaitonde. Between Rauf Lala and his sons.

All the so-called iconic scenes — including Vijay’s introduction scene at the police station, the Vijay-Kancha meeting on the Mauritius beach, the climactic mother-son healing scene — are left out in a bid to create new legendary moments. Huh!

There’s no Archana Puran Singh’s Laila. There’s Katrina Kaif’s Chikni Chameli. Wow!