I knew Karan Johar’s Agneepath isn’t just a remake; it is another version with some crucial elements removed from the previous one. But by the time I was out of the cinema hall, I could not stop thinking about comparing the two and the manner in which screenplay has taken its course.
In the end, just like we write or view it differently, director Karan Malhotra also tries doing the same — different from the previous.
The details and the way sets have been erected is a commendable job. Just goes on to show that Bollywood is improving by the day in matters related to sets detailing.
Overall, the movie had more Indianness to it than the previous one where Westernisation had just started taking roots in the country. Hrithik’s stubbled, sherwani-clad look is a far cry from the clean-shaven well-tailored Amitabh, giving the impression that our hero isn’t bothered with the trendy elements of life but nevertheless manages to look good with the outfits he chooses.
Now comes the part where I feel the remake was a let down. There are huge gaps in the new version which I fail to understand and as I write this, I am still unable to fathom a few scenarios that are presented as they are. In fact, more than a remake, it would be apt to call the new Agneepath a heavily inspired movie where the characters lack depth and sense of purpose. If Mukul Anand’s cult version is the benchmark, then it has not done justice in keeping the soul of the movie alive in important moments.
The vengeance is clear but I have issues with the way script has been narrated. Agneepath was meant to be displaying the path of fire — the fire inside a child that gave birth to a rebellious youth who is all out to fulfill his childhood ambition. In the new version, the fire is there in short bursts and the path is devious with unnecessary murder plots, completely irrelevant to the main goal of the movie. These little breakaways from the highway make it incomplete to say the least.
By this time it is clear about who I am favoring and it isn’t Karan Malhotra. The stories about how Vijay taking to crime isn’t convincing in spite of the dark hanging scene shown. The killing of Rauf Lala’s son and Shantaram could have been avoided; there could have been a better way of highlighting the circumstances behind Vijay’s determination to get back his village, Mandwa, his relationship with the cop Gaitonde isn’t clear and lacks dialogue and screen presence emphasising the clash of ideologies. The only thing that is obvious is Vijay wants to kill Kancha and just goes about it without thinking much.
Now, I am in a mood for comparison, as the soul of the story and purpose were supposed to be same, with variation just in the manner of interpretation. But Let me warn readers, this is my personal interpretation after some hard thinking (which included bashing up a friend for taking us to this movie!). The story leading to the death of Master Deenanath is very poorly scripted; a person with such revered status cannot be eliminated in a flash. The faulty police system isn’t well highlighted and the very purpose of making Vijay taking to crime isn’t convincing. Suhasini Chauhan makes an appearance to the police station towards the end in panic; revealing her identity isn’t exactly the way you hand in the most important part of the movie. You need an eye-to eye scene to capture the range of emotions Kancha would have displayed knowing the hidden face of ‘Vijay’. This direct confrontation is badly missed.
Priyanka Chopra is pretty, but there is little scope for her to show her acting prowess. Alongside Chikni Chameli Katrina Kaif, Priyanka playing Kaali is just a character added. Bulk of her scenes isn’t consequential to the movie and the more I think, her character is just a requirement to increase the glam quotient.
Sanjay Dutt as Kancha plays more of a dark magician whose sole purpose is to keep the power and make money. Though the modern Kancha has some witty lines straight out of the Holy Hindu texts in spite of the character lacking the charisma, it is acceptable as he does justice to his role and has a significant presence throughout. Rishi Kapoor’s character Rauf Lala impressed me. Zarina Wahab as Suhasini Chauhan has lesser presence than Rohini Hattangadi, who had some of the best lines in the previous version.
Now comes the part where you would want to compare Hrithik and Amitabh, for obvious reasons. Thankfully, there is a clear demarcation with respect to age and timing of the revenge. In the earlier version, the bulk of the story took place 25 years after Master Deenanath’s demise. In the new one, it is 15 years. This gap of 10 years helped me to live with the fact of the way the modern Vijay goes about his approach — in 10 years even a character matures a lot. While Amitabh’s voice did justice to those power filled lines, Hrithik’s strength is in his innocence and the way he uses his physical prowess. I stopped comparing keeping in mind the 10-year gap seen in both the movies.
So what are our takeways?
I can’t remember any line from the Karan Malhotra version. Sorry, you could have nailed it here if only emphasis were given on dialogues, especially that of Vijay’s. Where are the punch lines expected out of a rebel who is on a mission? Is a great body a better substitute to the way you use your mouth to make your presence felt?
But by this logic, if Amitabh’s Vijay was to be 10 years younger, he would have faltered too, would have struggled to protect his family, would be ambiguous but physically more agile. So it is only fair to say, the latest Agneepath takes a detour and accelerates in accompanying the mission — to kill Kancha in order to get Mandwa.
While you start looking at it like that, you get the feeling that may be Karan Malhotra thought on similar lines.
But, the important part of any movie is to have some sort of intellect driving its characters, and with all due respect, the latest offering misses some key moments that could have bolstered it better. To a great extent, Rishi Kapoor’s was the only character whose role is appealing and to a lesser extent that of Sanjay Dutt, mainly because he has a few good lines.
I wonder how the original Agneepath would fare if it were to be re-released with minor changes keeping with the latest technological trends. Would it have been a hit unlike previously when it was released in 1990?
It is difficult to comprehend if today’s youth would have identified with Amitabh’s Vijay. But one thing is for sure — the characters used in the Mukul Anand’s version had a solid reasoning and it seemed the flow of the story to be well connected. It is another matter why the movie flopped. But then that happened to Swades too. So let’s not get into the mysteries of the Indian box-office.
Irrespective of the box-office collections, the 1990 version of Agneepath to me was a cult-classic, one of the very rare crime- and gangster-based movies Bollywood has produced. Amitabh Bachchan won his first National award for this and his performance as Vijay Deenanath Chauhan will be remembered for a long time to come.