Disclaimer– Before I go on to write anything about Zanjeer (2013) I should admit that I wanted to only view this film as a standalone film and not do any comparison whatsoever with the original iconic film made by Prakash Mehra way back in 1973. Similarly it would be futile to even try comparing Ram Charan Teja’s performance with that of Amitabh Bachchan, whose acting career literally zoomed thanks to the success of Zanjeer. I need to also make it clear that I have seen each and every film of Ram Charan on the big screen, from Chirutha to Naayak and consider Magadheera to be among my 10 top entertaining Indian films of the last decade. So there is no bias whatsoever in my objective behind this deconstruction of Zanjeer.
By now I am sure everyone knows the plot of the film irrespective of whether you have seen the original Zanjeer or not and hence it’s futile to even be getting into that zone. So for people who want to know whether Zanjeer (2013) is worth a watch or not, I have some pointers for you all to make note of –
1. For starters the film which we all know and expect to be an action packed drama begins with a James Bond featured along with the opening titles. What’s the connection? Well go figure that yourself, I’m sure even the producers had no clue of what director Apoorva Lakhia was trying to prove with the same.
2. Yes the villain kills the hero’s parents in both the versions but the fashion of the killing is pretty different this time around. And yet our hero, ACP Vijay Khanna keeps having the same nightmares of an unknown rider on a stallion. This after reports before the release of the film which kept insisting there won’t be a repeat of the nightmare scenes.
3. The hero’s first dialogue and action scene begins conveniently in Hyderabad just to show a tribute to his father and uncle i.e Megastar Chiranjeevi and Powerstar Pawan Kalyan respectively.
4. The makers then realize that it’s a Hindi film and decide to get the hero transferred all the way to Mumbai. Why will a cop from Hyderabad get transferred suddenly to Mumbai? Shh, come on I guess even Apoorva Lakhia doesn’t know the answer to this one.
5. It’s extremely normal for an NRI girl from New York to land up in Mumbai to attend a Facebook friend’s (whom you’ve never met before) wedding, perform an item number and get drunk like crazy. Why, because you don’t get to do all this in the U.S.of A apparently, really?
6. Priyanka Chopra’s portrayal of Mala, the NRI girl who goes on to become the love interest of ACP Vijay Khanna has to be seen to believe that an actress of her calibre could actually be irritating and painfully dumb in the film. Now was this deliberate or not I do not know. What I know is that she will leave you shell shocked with her performance in the film and no I don’t mean this in the positive sense.
7. Bollywood entertainers these days have an acute shortage of villains and hence you have Prakash Raj playing the same ghisa pita don/baddie in film after film. Try as hard as he might, but by now the audience seems to understand his every move and anticipate every dialogue of his in advance. Fatigue factor anybody?
8. 40 years ago Teja (Ajit) used to be a smuggler and led a big gang. 40 years later Teja (Prakash Raj) still is a smuggler (but smuggles oil now as fuel prices have skyrocketed you see). Similarly 40 years ago Sher Khan (Pran) used to run gambling dens and now 40 years later Sher Khan (Sanjay Dutt) still does illegal stuff with a lot of ‘respect’, he now deals with stolen vehicles, how ingenious.
9. You want to know if the film has any comedy in it, despite knowing that it’s an intense action-drama. Well don’t worry as director Apoorva Lakhia brings in 2 junior cops, named very intelligently as Amar- Prem 🙂 and the scenes between Teja and Mona (Mahie Gill) are ‘supposedly’ rib tickling. Instead of resembling Ajit and Bindu from the original, Praksh Raj and Mahie Gill remind me rather of Amrish Puri and Deepshika from Koyla (don’t ask me why, maybe this could be your reason to watch the film? 🙂 ).
10. Now is there no new character in the film? Hasn’t Apoorva Lakhia tried anything new? Of course he does introduce Atul Kulkarni, Jaidev a crime journalist who is based on the slain journalist J.Dey (they did not even tinker around much with the name). It’s another matter that he is shown to be working for Deccan Chronicle (check out DCHL’s branding clearly in multiple scenes where Jaidev is shown at work), so what if Deccan Chronicle doesn’t even have a Mumbai edition. Well this is not a documentary on J.Dey right?
11. 40 years ago Prakash Mehra had the guts to show that his hero Vijay Khanna could get dismissed from the police force and then fight his own battle. 40 years later Apoorva Lakhia still prefers to play it safe by showing his Vijay Khanna getting suspended and returning back as a cop eventually.
12. Just when you think the misery is about to finally get over, you are served with a double whammy. The film ends with a possible hint of a sequel (yes you are reading it right) and then you get to see that terrible music video of a song “Mumbai Ke Hero”. For those interested in trivial details as well, the final scene has Sanjay Dutt’s voice dubbed by someone else (maybe this was after he went back to jail) and on the white board in the commissioner of police’s chamber you have Salim-Javed’s name written for some kind of homage of sorts?
So at the end of it all you get a film which even as a standalone film carries no merit and is a grim reminder of the countless masala movies churned out by Bollywood in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s worth remembering that late Prakash Mehra’s son Amit Mehra (who was the initial producer of the new version) actually had a fall out with his brothers Sumeet and Puneet, resulting in the change of ownership of the film’s rights. Also remember that the brothers went on a continued battle against the original writers- Salim-Javed (before going in for an out of court settlement) over the rights to make the film. Today if only Prakash Mehra saab would have been alive it would have been worthy to know if he would have approved of his legacy getting blown to dust in this fashion.
For those who have read all this and still wonder if the film is worth watching, please go back through points 1-12 once again :).