Movie Moment: Agneepath

Nothing like sweet revenge to get the year started off right.

Agneepath (Path of Fire) is a Dharma Productions remake of the award winning 1990 film starring Abmitabh Bachchan. Karan Johar is yet again reaching outside his comfort zone and tackling a product that doesn’t tout affluent households and unrealistic lifestyles. Instead, Agneepath tells the story of a regular middle-class young boy who loses his father, thus sparking the hunger for revenge.

*Official Synopsis: In a small Indian village Mandwa, Vijay Dinanath Chauhan (Hrithik Roshan)  is taught about the path of fire by his principled father. His life is shattered completeley when the evil drug lord Kancha Cheena (Sanjay Dutt) hangs his father to death, Vijay leaves for Mumbai with his pregnant mother, and takes an oath that he will return back to Mandwa and bring back the glory of his fathers name and take revenge against Kancha Cheena.

In Mumbai, Vijay is taken under the wings of the cities drug lord Rauf Lala (Rishi Kapoor). From here on it is a journey of revenge where he makes and breaks many relationships only to get closer to his aim. Vijay finds support in his only friend Kaali (Priyanka Chopra), who stands by him at every moment of his life. Fifteen years later, his hatred for Kancha takes him back to Mandwa where life comes full circle.

Music: Item numbers in Hindi films have always fascinated me, for at times they are the only “visual” draw to the film. And in extreme cases, overshadows the film at large (in terms of exposure and media attention [see: Bunty Aur Babli‘s “Kajra Re” or Kya Love Story Hai’s “It’s Rocking”]. This may also become the case for item girl Katrina Kaif’s “Chikni Chameli  for, it does make a distinct impression. The song isn’t that great but it and Katrina’s energy, coupled with her performance is contagious (and for an item song, that is where the appeal lay). Kaif has definitely come along way as an actress and her inclusion in this film showcases it. She isn’t a solid actress, nor is she a contender for meaty substantive roles, but she is improving year after year and her stamina and determination is impressive.

Trailer: 1 & 2

The first trailer is fast-paced and in-your-face intrigue, showcasing what the film has to offer. Whereas the second, delves more into character spotlights. All with the wonderful narration of Om Puri.
Personally, I like the look of this film. Dharma’s Agneepath seems to take the title into a darker place than the original film, bringing the revenge concept into more of a diabolical and explosive power, like the dangerous nature of fire. The effect of fire in the protagonist’s like is literal, which carves out his “path.” That path being physical, psychological and personal. The symbolize is very apparent and like the original, indelible.

Premiere: January 26

Thoughts: Though award-winning, the original Agneepath was a box-office stinker. It has however, from then on, become a cult classic– one that is mentioned endlessly in other films and if you are a Hindi film fan, should have seen at one point or other. Unfortunately, remakes have a high standard to live up to and surpass. The history of the previous film, I believe will have some bearing on this current venture, for it is a remake, not a re-imagining. Where the differences lay will be in quality and approach, for the basic premise is rather timeless. Hopefully, Johar will just produce a better project than his father.

The film has some heavy hitters and some pretty decent casting with Hrithik Roshan (Guzarrish, Koi Mil Gaya) in the lead and Sanjay Dutt (Mission Kashmir, Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.) as the villian and Rishi Kapoor (Bobby, Hum Tum) as Vijay’s mentor, in supporting roles. These three men together are a rare treat and markedly make for a world that will toil with the ideals of good and evil and it’s reconciliation with revenge. Priyanka Chopra (Aitraaz, 7 Khoon Maaf) and Hrithik Roshan have worked together before in the sci-fi superhero film Krrish and will again for the sequel. They have a decent chemistry that works for any romantic angle. Chopra doesn’t impress on-screen, but had quite a good turn in her notable lead role in last year’s 7 Khoon Maaf. That acclaim does however prove her to be rather, hit or miss, given the film and material. In a love equation, she is very dependent on her report with her partner and seems to be at the mercy of her role in relation to the pairing. Hopefully, this role will afford her the opportunity to shine as bright as her co-star.

Overall, Roshan is an interesting choice, if film-makers are looking to reincarnate Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, the Amitabh Bachchan creation. For Bachchan and Roshan are spheres apart in experience and technique. However, the same could have been said for Shah Rukh Khan’s turn in the iconic role of Don which actually was a respectable remake and well received. Ultimately, actors have extremely hard tasks when taking remake roles, for the original is most decidedly better and hard to live up to. Then add the most revered actor in your country as the principle character and there is yet another mountain of pressure. With Agneepath, this is the case, but with the actors being so wide in range and approach, the acting honestly is the least of this films worries. Roshan is one the best (considerably well-known) actors of his age in the world right now. Every film he’s in may not be box-office gold but his performances always are.  Though certainly his Vijay may not awaken memories of Amit-ji, perhaps he will birth a new wave of respect for the character and the source material.

[* synopsis and stills courtesy of Agneepath and GlamSham]

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