Directed by: Karan Malhotra
Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt, Rishi Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Om Puri
Agneepath is definitely one of the best films to come out of Bollywood in the past several years. To have a reference point I watched the original first, and I can without a second thought say that this is, together with Don, the best remake I´ve seen.
The original, as impressive as the one man show by Amitabh Bachchan was and as endearing Mithunda was, did not really leave much impact in my mind, and although it is revered as a classic by many, it is not a movie I would watch again from my own choice. As far as I know it gained its cult status by handling in an interesting an innovative manner of revenge more than anything else. The new Agneepath takes all the best out of the old one, moulds it with more action, more thrill, more glamour and produces a cinematic piece full of passion and emotions. Agneepath has a mysterious kind of wild beauty, and that even during the scenes that (as far as content is the matter) are actually nail-biting and even disgusting. It concentrates less on the underworld plotting and more on the persona of Vijay, there is less of motherly scolding and rejection but that doesn´t mean it´s less painful. The love track, although still secondary, is better understood than in the original, where it somehow happened out of nowhere (the old Bollywood-way), while in the new one it has a background and reason.
Hrithik as Vijay is perfect (and so is Arish Bhiwandiwala as a young Vijay, one of the best child performances since Ayesha Kapoor in Black). I am not talking only about his stellar performance, but about his overall look, his presentation - and age! He was exactly what Vijay should have been. His natural interaction with all the characters seemed completely effortless from his silent love for Kaali, protectiveness of his sister to disdain he felt for Lala and finally the utter hatred for Kancha, all was there, mixed together and always painfully real. His eyes speak without words, but his dialogue delivery, especially the poem recital uttered in pain in the moments of bitter victory, is wonderful.
His brilliance is only rivaled by Rishi Kapoor, who conquered a new base. From teenage lover boy to Lala, Rishi proves he is no less than the more appreciated names like Amitabh Bachchan or Dharmendra. I dare to go as far as to call his villanious act iconic. Sanjay Dutt, of course, gives also a very impressive performance, but is given a raw deal and his screaming scene at the beginning does not leave the desired impact. Special mention to Om Puri, who never fails. After seeing the original film I was somehow wary because from the start it was heralded the new adaptation will not have one of the chief characters – Krishnan Iyer, played by Mithun Chakraborthy. I could not really imagine how that could be done as he had quite a prominent role that held importance in all the lines of the story, but the script of new Agneepath surprised. Krishnan was definitely not an ungrateful and meaningless character, but I never felt his absence in the new film. That also leaves Mithun Chakraborthy the only actor from the previous cast who remains unsurpassed.
|The highly impressive villains.|
Priyanka Chopra as Kaali looks beautiful, but she is one actress you know can act the pants off of almost everyone, and so one is bound to feel disappointed at the lack of screen time she gets as well as lack of character development. She is lovely, of course, but anyone at all could have done the role. Both Vijay´s mother and sister are actually characters with more impact on both his life and the viewer, in spite of also being sidelined. The last notable female appearing in the film was of course Katrina Kaif as Chikni Chameli, but oh my! Whatever looked good in the promos looked completely out of place in the movie. The editing with special fading effects made it seem like the film switched to MTV for a while. Not even Katrina´s dancing was good. I recall how I was impressed by the promos early this year, but after seeing the whole thing I must say Katrina can move, but that was not a dancing. The blame should be put mostly to the choreographer of course, but Katrina doesn´t ad anything positive to the whole thing either. Her expression doesn´t change throughout, and if you notice she hardly ever does two different moves in one take. The shot is always cut when it should come to a change. Chikni Chameli so became my least favourite part of the movie and definitely one of its rare weaknesses. The best song - and dance - must be for me Gun Gun Guna. Also the wedding song right before the interval was excellent, it helped to build the tension and thrill wonderfully.
The visual part of the movie ads to its beauty. It´s wildly colourful, but not sugary or over the top. The play of colours and shadows are used brilliantly to portray the difference between the hell that is Mandwa and a peaceful place it used to be. The symbolism finds its place (we all like it, don´t we) when Vijay literally steps into Lala´s shoes, when a tree Kanha uses for executions witheres seemingly without reason and more.
People call the old Agneepath a classic, but to me personally this label doesn´t really fit. I guess it is one of those cases when a movie needs to be viewed in the frame of its own era. To me it was a fine film with fine performances, but way too many loopholes, subplots, and let´s face it but Amitabh Bachchan as Vijay was a miscast. I still recommend to watch it first, so you can truly appreciate the new Agneepath. It really impressed me more than I even expected (and my expectation were indeed very high).