V for Vijay Dinanath Chauhan
For two years in B-school, the word ‘core competency’ would come up in multiple case study discussions. In our over simplified solutions, we would often propose that the organization do something completely different from its DNA. Our Profs would then reiterate the importance of ‘understanding’ a particular line of business and organizations sticking to what they do best.
Dharma Production’s (post Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) core competency is making larger than life weepy emotional dramas. It is in their DNA to make bubble gummy romantic pop corny films. Nothing against that, I have liked quite a few of them (Do not judge me!). Debutant Director Karan Malhotra’s Agneepath is a visually stunning film (cinematography by Ravi K. Chandran, Kiran Deohans) which attempts to go away from K Jo’s DNA and sadly, as my Profs would lecture, it eventually suffers by doing what it does not know how to do well. Though some of the K Jo elements still creep in diluting the attempt to break away – super synchronized dance sequences (in red light areas!) to actors living in chawls with the perfect make up!
Blame it on my high expectations or my love for the original (one of my favourite Sr. Bachan movies) but this Agneepath did not make me go wow. On the contrary I found it an effort to sit through the almost 3 hour long movie.
The story is the stock Bollywood one, of a son (Vijay, Hrithik Roshan) seeking revenge for his father’s murder by a big bad villain (Kancha, Sanjay Dutt). The entire process of enacting this revenge is what made the original Agneepath riveting to watch. Of course, it had a brilliant screenplay and mature characters to engage the audience; while this one does have some interesting characters, it is majorly let down by its own lethargic story telling pace. The biggest pain points are the sob scenes and to some extent the romantic ones despite a pleasant performance from Priyanka ‘OMG! what a waist!’ Chopra (Kaali, worst screen name ever for someone with such a hot waistline).
There is a silver lining though. Each time the movie is dragging and you start feeling bored, an action sequence pops out keeping you on the edge of your seat. Ajay-Atul’s background score is a big help during such moments, pity their music in the rest of the movie is just so-so. Regarding Chikni Chameli, well, my liking for Katrina is well documented but I did not enjoy this act one bit. The choreography here is just terrible. And as antithetical as it may sound, Sheila atleast had some class, this has none.
Besides the sheer length of the movie, the other drawback is that the viewer keeps waiting for the action scenes to happen on screen, as the best portions of the film lie there. The flaw lies in the screenplay not being able to sustain the viewer engagement in between the violence and allowing it to dip instead. For instance, Hrithik does surprisingly little of his gangster business for someone supposed to be ruling Mumbai’s drug business.
However, the biggest positives are from the couple of superlative performances – by Roshan and Dutt. Hrithik is absolutely fantastic and does no wrong in playing the brooding, vendetta focused Vijay Chauhan. But Sanjay Dutt steals the show and surges two steps ahead delivering one of his finest performances ever, definitely his best in a negative role. Rishi Kapoor as the local drug lord is excellent; his menacing act is so against his usual on screen image that it takes you by completely by surprise.
Plus there are certain moments of pure unbridled entertainment, my favourite scene is the one in which Hrithik mouths the iconic ‘Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, pura naam’ dialogue. I was waiting for it throughout, and almost feared the makers had dropped it. But it does come in the second half and lives up to the hoopla created by Amitabh Bachan.
In fact that particular scene, sums up the 2012 version of Agneepath, the basic premise is the same as the older one, the characters though are completely new and the mode of delivery too. I may possibly be unfair in comparing the two movies at every step, but then that is the risk you take in a remake, people will always benchmark it with the original. But credit to the Director that this one does not feel like the original, it is a completely different film with the same theme. Wish he had got better editing done though!
Rating: Go for the movie if you have nothing else to do on the weekend. It is better than watching TV news channels brood about India’s ‘Agneepath’ series loss.
Dessert Note: Apparently the makers of the original, late Director Mukul Anand in particular, derived the idea to make Agneepath from Deewar, another iconic Bacchan film. He wondered how the Deewar Vijay would react if he knew the people responsible for his woes. And hence made Agneepath!