Movie Review by Piyali Dasgupta
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt, Priyanka Chopra, Rishi Kapoor
Director: Karan Malhotra
Producer: Karan Johar
Comparisons are inevitable in a remake, especially when they involve Amitabh Bachchan.
This is where Agneepath scores the first win.
Comparisons are damned. This *is* the new Agneepath. Though it shares a name with the original and begins with a flashback, Bachchan’s larger-than-life- surma-rimmed Vijay Dinanath Chauhan is a page in movie history. A new one begins with this Agneepath.
The movie begins in the strategically located hamlet of Mandwa and then moves to Mumbai. Hrithik Roshan as Vijay Dinanath Chauhan wants to take revenge for the murder of his father by drug lord Kancha (Sanjay Dutt). On the way he meets Rauf Lala (Rishi Kapoor) who becomes his godfather in crime. He grows up with girl-next-door Kaali (Priyanka Chopra) who eventually becomes his lover.
The next big win is the meshing of the past and the present. This is Karan Johar’s emotional tribute to his father, the producer of Bachchan’s Agneepath. So director Karan Malhotra retains some of the classic scenes. I won’t give them all away, but this one is so masterfully done that it must be mentioned – the killing of Vijay’s father. Kancha hangs him to death – terrifying, gripping and around me – in a packed theatre – silence.
This brings me to the next big win – the action – by Abbas Ali Moghul. For context, Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai was his other recent film as action coordinator. In Agneepath, there a great mix of loud swaggering noisy action and hand-to-hand combat.
Here’s the last win before I move to the fails – yes there are a few. There’s quite a star cast in the film and they’ve come through. Hrithik remains grounded. He, like his lover Kaali, is the boy-next-door at heart. Circumstances change his life and surroundings, but his heart remains the same. The pain in Hrithik’s eyes when he returns to Mandwa, the climax, the grim Ganesh visarjan – oh there are just so many.
Sanjay Dutt – don’t go by his recent quotes comparing his laugh to the Joker(!). Just go watch him. He probably kept Mission Kashmir in mind while shooting this. That one became a Hrithik Roshan film. This one is also a Sanjay Dutt film – easily among his best recent performances.
The other stalwart is the ever-dependable Rishi Kapoor – completely despicable and thoroughly enjoyable through the film. And yes, he wears lots of surma around the eyes. So completely old-world Bollywood.
Priyanka Chopra hangs in there as Kaali, but hers isn’t the role that you remember, simply because there’s not much to it.
The music and background score by Ajay-Atul blend with the screenplay – it’s loud and boisterous and adds to the earthiness of the film. Yes – I am coming to Chikni Chameli. Katrina Kaif adds to the tempo, which incidentally picks up again with this song, as if on cue. Saw lots of happy faces in the audience around me. They loved it.
Now for the few missteps in the film; the pace falters in both the first and second half despite the action. It doesn’t escape the usual Hindi film fail – it’s too long. A pointless song, a few extra flashbacks spoil a hardcore Bollywood masala flick.
But here’s the thing. Watch this film because this one is unadulterated Bollywood entertainment. I’ll go with three stars and add half a star for the sheer excitement palpable in those who I watched the film with, first show this morning. Near packed attendance, hearty applause and complete silence in parts. What a bright start, it can only grow from here.
Oh and Bollywood producers – please don’t piggyback trailers of your films on expected blockbusters. Tempting but do avoid – noticed huge impatience among those who trooped into the theatre to catch the first show of Agneepath on a holiday. The trailers were lost.