They say you shouldn’t redo a role that Amitabh Bachchan has done before. And if the role is the character of Vijay Deenanath Chauhan in Agneepath, then the only thing you should be redoing is mulling over your decision to replay it.
Hrithik Roshan went through that process of thinking and then rethinking some more, and as a Bollywood fan, I am grateful that he decided to take up the challenge. He did justice to the character of an angry young man whose sole purpose in life is to avenge the death of his father; a vulnerable man who is a brother, a son and a lover.
The three-hour-long film, with an overdose of melodrama and sometimes even violence, is not for those who don’t appreciate Bollywood for what it is: paisa wusool entertainment.
The great news is that the film does not waste precious minutes on songs that serve no purpose. Contrary to what most of us would have thought, nobody really bothered with Katrina Kaif’s horribly done item song Chikni Chameli. In fact, several people in the theatre murmured, “Can we get on with the film please?” as the song made an unfortunate entry at a point where the two main characters were meeting after 15 years.
Even though it is difficult to ascertain what era the film is set in, it is appreciable nonetheless; a brilliant mesh of the 90s India – where beneath the surface, every hero was an angry young man who lived in a jhopar patti – and 2012 Bollywood cinema, which has progressed by leaps and bounds in terms of technology.
While staying true to the 90s plot with minor additions such as Rishi Kapoor’s role as Rauf Lala, director Karan Malhotra and his team have exploited the almost unlimited resources that a mega producer like Karan Johar put at their disposal, making Agneepath a great viewing experience.
The film belongs to Sanjay Dutt as much as it does to Roshan. Dutt, who had admittedly proven himself in negative (Khalnayak) and semi-negative (Vaastav) roles, is absolutely disgusting as Kancha, a man who hangs men to death as he pleases. Dutt manages to depict Kancha very well.
For me, however, the real star of the film was Rishi Kapoor. Best known for soft roles like the chilled-out father (Hum Tum and Namastey London), he is surprisingly compelling as the repulsive villain who rules the Mumbai drug scene. Nowhere in the film does he appear the typical cuddly (and often tipsy) Rishi Kapoor – he is Rauf Lala and that is all.
When he announced plans to remake Agneepath, producer Karan Johar had said he wanted to set the record straight since the film had under performed when his father made it in the 90s. Apart from achieving that success, Agneepath is the final answer for those who are still critical of the concept of remakes.
Now that Indian filmmakers have proved that they are capable of re-imagining legendary roles like Vijay Deenanath Chauhan and Don, next on the cards should be a Sholay remake. I’m sure you’ll agree!