Directed by: Karan Malhotra
Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Sanjay Dutt, Rishi Kapoor
All images courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com
WARNING: Contains plot spoilers – please revisit this review after viewing Agneepath if you do not wish to know what happens beforehand!
Sometimes, it is difficult to write a film review. Strangely, when I don’t like what I have seen, the post seems to write itself, the thoughts flow and the problem becomes one of too much to say. However, when I like a film, it is a different matter. Sometimes I cannot help but gush and write love letters to directors and producers and actors as their work has had a profound effect on me. Then you occasionally get a Rockstar – which I am still unable to write up my thoughts on with any sort of clarity or objectivity.
I was lucky enough to see Agneepath (1990) when it first released (though I was only ten years old at the time) and in my eyes, it immediately became a film which was synonymous with determination and grit. It also felt different from the masala fare that I had been weaned on and though it has been over ten years since I last revisited it (format changes since you ask – my copy was on VHS!), it is still seared in my mind as an incredible and iconic film.
Hence, I wasn’t overjoyed to hear about the remake but having now seen the full product, I can’t stop thinking about it. For rather than a frame to frame remake (my worst fear) or trying to be too clever, Agneepath 2012 is more of a companion piece to the original, taking various elements such as the characters and the stories and presenting them in such a way to appeal to modern sensibilities and a new audience but at the same time, encouraging those who loved the original to look at things differently.
One of Agneepath 2012’s greatest challenges (aside from doing justice to its source material) is the enormous canvas it has to cover and so we really do get a slice of 90’s cinema where emotions are openly manipulated to unbearable levels whilst the violence and intensity are presented in a polished manner but still retain the ability to provoke a strong reaction. If I have to nit pick, I thought Kaali’s character had little purpose to serve in the scheme of things, which is a shame as if the makers did want to add a significant female role to the film, I feel they should have committed and seen it through to the end.
Also, the film is quite long which may put some viewers off but I liked this as it allowed the characters time to develop and explore the very dark side of the story which is perhaps the film’s trump card – making a bleak story of revenge set in a seedy underworld entertaining and accessible in a way that very few films manage to achieve by design.
The longer duration also allows for the leading actors to shine in their roles, which brings me onto performances. Priyanka Chopra has little to do but does give a good account of herself in the few emotional scenes that she has. I also thought her supporting act was exactly what she needs right now as I certainly wanted to see more of her and that is better than not wanting her to be there at all. Rishi Kapoor is superb as Rauf Lala, a character who is incredibly evil but sees no wrong in what he does and seeks only to further his own cause. Rishi is very convincing and manages to give Rauf Lala a human side which is far easier said than done but Rishi makes it look effortless. Similarly, Sanjay Dutt is fantastic as Kancha Cheena, a villain haunted by his own demons and possessing a brutality and menace that truly scares the viewer. Furthermore, I loved how Sanjay gave such a restrained performance – the danger with Kancha Cheena is to be too dramatic or caricature but Sanjay keeps Kancha in check, even giving him shades of grey amongst the black.
However, for me, the standout performance was Hrithik Roshan who not only has to contend with powerhouse performances from Rishi and Sanjay but also the shadow of Amitabh Bachchan’s iconic turn in the original (even though it is beyond comparison). At first, I felt Hrithik looked like he was sleepwalking but then I tuned into the intensity and subtle frequency Hrithik was performing at and was sucked into his performance. Not only does he prove a worthy foil to Kancha and Rauf Lala but makes Vijay three dimensional, someone the viewer feels they could know and care for. Also, whether it is action, emotional or crowd pleasing, Hrithik shows off a dazzling array of versatility as Vijay and continues to set the bar higher for himself with each film which is exactly how it should be.
Agneepath 2012 is a fantastic film that is definitely worth a watch and excitingly, promises to reveal more about itself upon repeat viewings. Whilst it is not an out and out masala film, it does have enough range to satisfy audiences across the board and succeeds as a suitable tribute to an amazing film. If Hindi cinema is in the grip of a remake frenzy, then Agneepath 2012 has set the standard for what we should expect from remakes – and for that reason alone, this is highly recommended.
Author’s Note: This is my 125th post! I just wanted to say a big thank you to all those who have visited,read and commented on my blog, I really am so grateful to everyone for their encouragement!
I also want to thank Akshay Kumar for not releasing a film in time for my 125th post (see my 100th post, a review of Patiala House) and thank Dharma Productions for Agneepath which is exactly the kind of film I love writing about…
Here’s to the next 125 posts!