Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Movie Review: Agneepath (Hindi)

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Whenever I'm on holiday in India, something I do without fail is catch the screening of the latest Bollywood flick. This time was no different....I wanted to watch the recently released Agneepath so I set off to the nearest multiplex in tow with my hubby and siblings.

Agneepath (Path of Fire), is a hindi movie directed by Karan Malhotra under the Dharma productions banner. This movie is a remake of the classic Agneepath (1990) directed by Mukul Anand which reinforced the public perception of Amitabh Bachchan as a megastar. I've heard that the original Agneepath was released twice - the first time it bombed at the box office, one reason thought to be Bachchan experimenting with his voice so it was released a second time after re-dubbing his lines in his original baritone voice, following which it began to pick up and eventually developed a cult status. I think it is a huge responsibility to remake a classic - the expectations are huge and the pressure to equal or surpass the success of the earlier version is tremendous. Needless to say, comparisons are inevitable. My review of the new Agneepath will be unbiased because I haven't watched the earlier one! I may have watched bits and pieces of it during my childhood because I vaguely remember a few dialogues and scenes but I really don't remember much more.

The movie is set in the late 1970's in a small village called Mandwa in Maharashtra. Vijay Deenanath Chauhan is a young boy living a simple and happy life with his school teacher father and mother who is heavily pregnant. Master Deenanath (as he is fondly called by the village folk) is a popular and influentital figure in the village. He is honest, tolerant and peace-loving. His son on the other hand, is slightly rebellious and asserts himself. He doesn't believe in letting people get away if he feels they are wrong, even if it means resorting to violence. Inspite of this, Vijay loves and respects his father and they share a special bond. The village head is threatened by Master Deenanath's growing popularity with the villagers and voices his concerns to his son Kancha Cheena (Sanjay Dutt), a hideous giant who is feared by everyone. Kancha along with his cronies, hatches an evil plot to frame Master Deenanath of a heinous and immoral crime which results in the entire village turning their ire on the teacher and his family. The villagers blinded by their rage, beat the teacher and set his home on fire in an attempt to wipe out the entire family. Vijay manages to lead his mother to safety and immediately rushes to help his father but with no one to help him, he watches horror struck as Kancha, hangs his father from a banyan tree in open view of the entire village. With their life in shambles, Vijay and his mother leave Mandwa and reach the shores of Mumbai. Homeless and penniless, they reach a grubby chawl in a red light district where Vijay's mother gives birth to his sister Shiksha. The people of the chawl shelter the trio and Vijay finds a companion in Kaali (Priyanka Chopra). The movie then follows the main protagonist into adulthood as he seeks to avenge his fathers humiliation and death. His every living breathing moment is fuelled by the desire to seek revenge and destroy the monster who changed his life forever. The dark side of the Mumbai drug trade, child trafficking and underworld of the 1990'ss unfolds as Vijay's journey reaches its climax.    

Before I continue with my review, let me tell you that this is one long movie (3 hours to be exact) so if patience is not one of your virtues, be warned! As you know, the story is an adaptation of an old movie but the treatment of the movie is praise-worthy. Hrithik Roshan as Vijay plays the tormented angry young man to perfection. He is one actor who can convey a myriad of emotions with his eyes and it serves him just as well in this movie. There is very little grimacing, shouting, yelling on his part and this lack of over the top histrionics makes his character very believable. Rishi Kapoor as Rauf Lala, the crooked Mumbai gang lord and foster father of Vijay is exceptional and I'm sure there will be plenty of accolades coming his way for his portrayal. Priyanka Chopra as Kali has a small supporting role and pitches in a decent performance. The actors playing the young Vijay (Arish Bhiwandiwala), his father (Chetan Pandit), mother (Zarina Wahab) and sister (Kanika Tiwari) do justice to their roles. Om Puri as Commissioner Gaitonde is impressive as always. But one of the highlights of the film is Sanjay Dutt as Kancha Cheena, the antagonist. He looks menacing and makes the audience want to hate him with a passion. His bald head, lack of eyebrows, stained teeth, raven clothes and tattoos add to his sinister demeanour. He will probably join the rank of hindi cinema's most hated villains of all time.  Some other strong points of the movie were the background score, the visuals and Katrina Kaif's catchy item song - Chikni Chameli. The movie strikes an emotional chord with the audience and I found myself reaching for my handkerchief more than once. However, I felt there were a few minor flaws - most of the songs were unnecessary, some scenes could have been shortened/deleted, the romantic track was feeble, there were a few loose ends here and there (such as how the honest Commissioner Gaitonde is so sympathetic towards a criminal) and of of course the usual unbelievable fight sequences (how can the hero even stand up after being stabbed multiple times!). 

In all, Agneepath is a revenge saga which is entertaining and worth a watch especially for Hrithik Roshan's, Sanjay Dutt's and Rishi Kapoor's performance. It is a good tribute to the original. But keep in mind, this movie has considerable violence so keep the kids away.  

I would rate this movie 3.5 stars out of 5. 

1 comment:

  1. well written! the hanging scene still gives me the creeps! very well shot.


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