Kya Dekhne Aaya Tha! Kya Dekh Ke Chala Gaya! That is exactly how I was feeling as I walked out of the theatre after watching Agneepath! The very name induces goosebumps in every Big B fan worth his salt. We have all grown up hearing the stories about how Amitabh tried a different voice modulation for the movie and it didn’t work. We have all shaken our heads in disdain whenever we read about how it bombed at the B.O back then. And, We All still feel the same excitement when it airs on TV like when we watched it for the 1st time.
My 1st viewing of Agneepath happened when I was 15. Till then, I wasn’t exactly a movie buff and used to just watch the latest releases reserving my excitement only for the Khans. Back then, The Big B had just managed to claw his way back with Mohabbatein and KBC. Set Max would air this movie quite frequently, and while I’d catch glimpses of the movie, I’d usually chance upon Mithunda dancing to the Krishnan Iyer song and end up changing the channel. Till one day, there happened to be nothing interesting playing on TV and the only option I had was to watch Agneepath that had just started playing. Words can’t describe that 1st viewing. Since then, there have been at least 15-20 viewings and the goosebumps just never stop. The introduction of the Adult Vijay, The 1st meeting with Kancha, The Vendetta against his former partners, The daring rescue of his sister or even the very literal climax. I’m sure, even you’d agree as you read each and every one of it.
However, this post is NOT about that Agneepath! This post is about the “new and improved”Agneepath! New, yeah maybe, But improved, definitely not! But more on that ahead! We have all been sceptical about this “remake”. Be it the rather interesting choice of Hrithik ahead of Jr B in the main role, The rather inspired casting of Sanjay Dutt and Rishi Kapoor as the antagonists or even the debutant director, Karan Malhotra. The promos pretty much increased the scepticism, especially when the focus shifted to the item song.
The plot, while similar to the original does away with most of the elements. There is the Maa, there is the Behen, there is the girlfriend and there is the sympathetic cop. But the character of Vijay Deenanath Chauhan, who is the soul, the essence and the nerve centre of the story is turned a 180 degrees. Which is a tragedy because what this otherwise clichéd and hackneyed story needed was a Hero. Over the top, Brash, Confident with that slight bit of arrogance. Instead, what we are given is a protagonist, silent, seething within himself, somebody who lets his silence speak for him, somebody who prefers the cloak and dagger approach to eliminating his enemies rather than openly confronting them. And this to me is what drags the movie back to just another tale of a man turned to crime by circumstances and his vendetta.
Hrithik deserves utmost credit for taking the role despite knowing that there will be comparisons to the original. The man is extremely talented and his body of work proves it. But, his one shortcoming is his inability to handle old school over the top acting and we witness it here. I don’t deny that his performance is brilliant. It very much is, BUT it is NOT the Vijay Deenanath Chauhan we know. If you notice, Hrithik’s best roles have always been the ones needing an understated performance like Lakshya etc . To be fair, I will admit that Hrithik pretty much owns the 2nd half and it’s quite delightful to watch him and Sanjay Dutt play off each other!
Sanjay Dutt plays to the gallery here fully! Like Gabbar and Mogambo, his interpretation of Kancha again is a 180 degree turn from the original and works quite well. Sure, we all agree that he seems to be channelling Raghu from Vaastav in most scenes, but that is exactly what the story needed and it works. He has beefed up for the role and shaved his hair and eyebrows thus bearing a rather eerie resemblance to Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz. And that is what works. Be it the look, the rather over the top personality, the dialogues or just the screen presence, it works and it works big time. The cheers of the audience every time he appeared on screen act as evidence to this fact.
To me however, the real star of this movie was Rishi Kapoor. To audiences, used to seeing him as the affable elder in the family or the lover boy in his older movies, this role is gonna come as a shocker. And to his credit, he doesn’t let his character down by coming up with a one dimensional performance. His character may be evil, but like Suparn Verma in Rediff mentions, He manages to humanize the character to a degree and does it very very well.
Priyanka Chopra is pretty much relegated to the background here, but she manages to light up the screen with her antics. For some reason, She did remind me a lot of Sridevi and comes across as adorable. What however did annoy me about the movie was the criminal wastage of extremely talented artistes like Sachin Khedekar, Rajesh Vivek, Piyush Mishra etc by giving them minuscule and inconsequential roles that any other junior artiste could have done.
Technically however, the movie is very sound. Karan Malhotra seems to be a very confident director and it shows in every frame. The camera work is top notch and quite a few sequences stand out. Mandwa especially has been captured quite well. The selection of Diu as a location was a smart idea.
The music by Ajay Atul however is surprisingly dull. Except for the Ganesha track and to an extent, Chikni Chameli(Which is the hindi version of an awesome Marathi song), the songs are quite dull. The background music too lacks retention value except in a few sequences.
However, judging by the audience in the theatre, I am dead sure that they don’t really care about the above as they were having a blast. The movie is old school masala mostly with a few updates and is worth a watch. But yeah, don’t expect it to live up to the original. Just go, watch and have fun!