As mentioned in my reviews earlier, A Remake is the easiest way of making your way into the history of cinema, which also gives you a readymade script to start working upon instantly. But after watching this recent version of one of the most stylish and cult movies of Indian Cinema (which got this status in the later years after being a flop initially), I reached a new conclusion about this latest trend in Bollywood.
Remaking a cult movie featuring one of the current heart-throbs of the Industry is undoubtedly the safest business projects for a production company. It not only shows that the company is hesitant in making films on some new ideas but it also loudly announces that the makers are now quite over-confident to think that they can surely do something better from the original in their new version. And these two conclusions are clearly proved by Dharma Production’s present remake of their own 1990 project in the following way:
1. Karan Malhotra’s AGNEEPATH is not at all a remake of Mukul S. Anand’s classic in a true manner. It takes too many liberties, makes too many deletions and adds too many insertions showing the over-confidence of its makers mentioned above. Many important characters of the original (like of Mithun, Madhavi, Tinnu Anand, Goga Kapoor and more) are taken off completely and many new are added, out of which only one works in a fine way, thankfully. But due to these hugely heavy manipulations, the real impact of the original gets lost and is visible only in parts. So, actually Karan’s current new age version just takes the basic idea plus some of its key characters from the 1990 film and then gives you a completely different product all together.
2. But even then, despite of making it so distinctively, Dharma Production still publicized it as a Remake of AGNEEPATH in order to get all the business benefits associated with the buzz as stated above. In fact this publicity stunt of making a remake of the hugely popular 1990 film will help them in two ways. Firstly it will bring in the Big Initial as essentially required for such mega project in its first weekend. Plus, since it is not exactly A Remake, it will re-install the memories of the past and would boost the demand of their own original 1990 project in the Satellite and Home Video market once again. So it’s a perfect two way profitable business plan being played here by the producers.
Coming to the review of the movie, it’s a pretty easy task if one writes about the film as a remake of Mukul. S. Anand’s AGNEEPATH of 1990. Because frankly, from that point of view it fails miserably since it lacks the 4 essential aspects of its original. Now Mukul’s AGNEEPATH had a powerful Vijay Dinanath Chauhan with his own impeccable style (followed by the youngsters even today), a strong mother with her truthful ideals, a lovable nurse-wife understanding her husband perfectly and an honest police officer who had a mutually respectful relationship with Vijay.
Unfortunately none of these four elements are there in Karan Malhotra’s official remake. There is very less emphasis given to the mother-son track, the nurse- wife gets converted into a beauty parlour owner degrading the character itself and the police officer never really feels like a strong official ever. But most importantly there is no Vijay Dinanath Chauhan here in this 2012 AGNEEPATH unexpectedly. And that’s where I have certain reservations with this so called remake of the cult classic.
Mukul S. Anand conceived Vijay Dinanath Chauhan as a larger than life persona, a macho man who had both mercy for the needy and terror for the culprits in his decorated eyes. But here in Karan Malhotra’s version we have a young well built Boy playing Vijay and not the Man, Vijay Dinanath Chauhan as in the original.
Mukul’s Vijay was a powerful Don, who also happened to be the Messiah for the poor and was loved by everyone immensely due to his good deeds. He worked with the BAD but had a heart thinking for the poor and humanity as a whole. But I honestly couldn’t understand this new Vijay and his ideals which are all confusing. At one end Karan’s Vijay living in a chawl, is doing many charity works and running his own vans for the cause. But on the other hand he has no objections and is very keen in dealing in Drugs which in fact is the key factor ruining our society, particularly the people staying in the same chawls in which he is living. Now what kind of ideology is that, remains out of my understanding completely. Its like at one point he supplies the youngsters the Drugs and at another point sends a charitable van in order to get them to the hospital.
Secondly as per the theme, Mandwa (the village) is Vijay’s dream and so are the people living there to whom he wants to tell the truth about his father. So he will never like to ruin Mandwa or its innocent people, who are now working under the rule of Kancha. But contradicting this basic fact of the theme, Vijay in the climax, bombs the whole Mandwa in this new version of AGNEEPATH, visibly killing so many harmless people living in their miserable conditions. Now here the most interesting point is that in the original its Kancha who bombs the whole Mandwa with a remote control but here in the new version its Vijay who bombs the whole Mandwa……which looks very strange on the screen and quite weird too.
Hence this can’t be the VIJAY DINANATH CHAUHAN as portrayed by Mukul S. Anand in his 1990 original. So here is a different Vijay for the current generation who is less powerful, more cunning and a little confused too moving towards his mission of getting ‘Mandwa’ back for her mother.
Thirdly there are so many things missing in this so called Remake. The famous opening scene at the Police Station where the young Vijay gets transformed into Vijay Dinanath Chauhan saying his ‘Poora Naam’ is not there. The raw feel and tense chaos in the scenes where Vijay and his people attack the slums where his rivals have taken his sister is not the same. And even the fabulous mud-fight shot innovatively back then in 1990 is also missing.
Yes, Mukul’s AGNEEPATH had many elements and scenes inspired from various sources but despite of that it had a typical Mukul stamp all over it which can be understood by the viewers who are well familiar with his other works. The man was a genius when it came to execution and Karan also takes many references straight from the master itself. But still, if you want to know about the film as a remake – then honestly it reaches nowhere close and walks on to a different path of its own with a pinch of painful over-confidence.
Conversely, if you watch it as a fresh project (which only has some similarities with the Cult Classic AGNEEPATH) then all is not lost here. As an individual project, without comparing it with the original, the film has its own merits and is watchable too with a few avoidable glitches.
In short, the latest project of Dharma Productions called AGNEEPATH is a well crafted, polished product which can be termed brilliant as far as production value, cinematography and action is concerned. So technically it’s a winner in one way but fails miserably when it comes to characterizations except the one called Rauf Lala.
In a very surprising manner, there is no Vijay Dinanath Chauhan leaving an impact on his audience in this new AGNEEPATH. The present version is more a Rauf Lala and Kancha’s AGNEEPATH than Vijay Dinanath Chauhan’s. Therefore, its not Hrithik Roshan but Rishi Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt, who successfully leave their solid mark in the end, against the general expectations. In other words, this is a more darker, rude and cunning remake where an innocent girl gets raped by the students in a village school, minor girls are being sold openly like slaves in the market and the hero who happens to be a masses man is eagerly doing drugs business and charity activities together.
The film starts off in a great style and impresses hugely in its first 30 minutes till the young boy grows up into Hrithik Roshan. The spell binding start raises your expectations to a great extent which sadly remain unfulfilled to a large extent. The whole film does have a grand look with magnificent colourful backdrops enhancing the overall impact of the people performing on the screen. But still the cliché subject of the script having the ages old plot of a child looking for his revenge through gang wars and conflicting family values doesn’t give you anything fresh to enjoy.
The sole winner of the film remains Rishi Kapoor as Rauf Lala, who shocks you with his well defined role done with convincing perfection. The "Lover boy of the 80s" surprises you once again (in a negative role) after more than four decades in the Industry and that’s indeed not an easy task to do for an actor at this age. Following him is Sanjay Dutt as Kancha who is able to spell terror on the screen with his deadly looks and body. But at the same time his character keeps hanging between a wicked don and a psycho maniac. Nevertheless due to these two veterans, the film has its Bad people making more impact on the audience than the Good ones.
Hrithik Roshan as Vijay becomes the victim of a confusion that what he has to do in order to differ from that Big Image of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan already there in the viewers minds. As a result, he ends up doing simply nothing extraordinary. Hrithik plays Vijay in his own style without any special gimmick or mannerism and remains too simple and straight throughout the film. And that’s the reason why the villains become the winner in this new AGNEEPATH. Though his performance remains perfect for the claps and whistles coming from his fans. But as far as the iconic character of Vijay Dinanth Chauhan goes, I was expecting something exceptional from the actor.
In the supporting cast, Priyanka Chopra is just there to be the leading lady in the credits and nothing else. Zarina Wahab is great in his limited scenes and Om Puri keeps struggling with his weak role. The rest of the cast performs well contributing to the overall feel of the film but no once stands out. Like the original, the remake also doesn’t get any good songs except “Chikni Chameli” which again is a rehashed version of a Marathi track. Katrina Kaif works hard on his fast body movements in the song but fails to give the required face expressions essentially needed in such kind of raunchy track. Apart from the item number Ajay-Atul deliver a powerful Ganpati song having a pumping rhythm and energy. But they actually excel in their Background Score (more than the Soundtrack) which is simply great supporting its various sequences perfectly.
In all Karan Malhotra’s AGNEEPATH misses the bulls eye mainly due to its second half which goes beyond the required length becoming exhaustive. Though shot brilliantly, the climax takes too much time and that too when the viewer already knows that what is going to happen next. Moreover due to the new “Tree-Hanging” insertion in the script the original meaning of the word “AGNEEPATH” (The path of Fire) is no-where visible in this remake whereas in the original it was a visual Agneepath on the screen for Amitabh to walk on in order to kill Kancha.
In the end, I would only like to say that Karan Malhotra and Karan Johar’s new age AGNEEPATH is no doubt a well executed film in technical terms but talking about the content, its really not a film about Vijay Dinanath Chauhan we had seen in the past (certainly not a dancing Vijay for sure). It’s a remake just for the name-sake which actually leaves every single character of the Original, pure and untouched. So you can surely watch it but for Rauf Lala alone and not for Vijay Dinanath Chauhan.
Ratings : 3 / 5 (Including 1 for its superb production values, execution and cinematography)