Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Agneepath: Revenge re-packaged
While watching Katrina Kaif gyrating to “Chikni Chameli”, more than halfway through Karan Malhotra’s “Agneepath”, I couldn’t help but wonder about the similarities between the song and the film. Both are adaptations of an original product (“Chikni Chameli” has been adapted from a popular Marathi song), both have ample production value and some great moves, but they are also ample proof that remaking an original may not always work.
Malhotra’s version of “Agneepath”, to be fair, is not a direct copy and is quite different from Mukul Anand’s 1990 version. A lot of the plot points of the original film have been swapped for newer stories, but the gist of the story remains.
Hrithik Roshan plays Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, a gangster from the Mumbai slums, who is obsessed with killing Kancha (Sanjay Dutt), the man who killed his father over a dispute more than 15 years ago.
Vijay feeds his revenge, joining a rival gang and rising to the top quickly, but in the process alienates his mother (Zarina Wahab), who cuts off all ties with him. To his credit Roshan portrays that angst and that loneliness beautifully and in one particular scene, where he eats at his mother’s house after fifteen years, you do feel for him.
There are some moments, like the scene where Vijay meets his sister for the first time, which are well done, as is most of the action. The palette of Mandwa, dreary and dark, lends very well to the personality of villain Kancha, and the fight scene at the end will keep you hooked, even though you know how it’s going to end.
What brings this film down is its unnecessary length. There are too many songs, and too many inane dialogues at crucial points that will make you laugh out loud. Om Puri, playing a police officer who looks out for Vijay, has the bulk of these lines. Malhotra’s script isn’t as tight as it should have been and the central theme of the film — revenge — gets diluted.
On the plus side, there are some good performances — Hrithik Roshan, Rishi Kapoor (playing Kancha’s rival and Vijay’s mentor Rauf Lala) and Sanjay Dutt (who looks creepy enough to scare most people except when he’s speaking lines in Sanskrit) are all exceptional in the film. Roshan uses his eyes to express the turmoil his character goes through in the film, delivering a powerful performance.
But Priyanka Chopra, playing Vijay’s love interest, hams it up like there’s no tomorrow and is singularly irritating. She doesn’t look like a girl who lives in a slum at all, togged up in designer wear and perfect make-up.
If you are a fan of the earlier “Agneepath”, don’t go expecting to see a copy of the earlier film. There is no famous baritone and no Mithun Chakraborty. But there is a formula revenge film with modern production values. If that’s your kind of film, watch it.