WBRi Movie Review: AGNEEPATH (2012) Hindi Film: Hrithik Roshan And Sanjay Dutt Light Up Polished Bollywood Potboiler

Trailer: Agnipath (Hindi, 2012)

Calcutta January 27, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio/ Penning Creations): Remaking cult classics from yesteryears is a risky affair, as most filmmakers would agree. While ‘RGV Ki Aag’ (the ambitious remake of the evergreen ‘Sholay’) had been an unqualified disaster, even Farhan Akhtar’s decision to recreate ‘Don’ had met with considerable initial scrutiny and scepticism. Karan Johar himself had earlier tried to remake the Hollywood hit ‘Stepmom’ with the distinctly average ‘We Are Family’. Johar returns as producer again with ‘Agneepath’ – the remake of the Amitabh Bachhan, Mithun Chakrabarty-starrer of the same name (which released in 1990).  Thanks to the sleek and stylish promos, the star attraction (Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra are, currently, two of the biggest names in B-town) and indeed, the very fact that this was a remake of an earlier classic, the film generated high levels of pre-release hype and anticipation. Thankfully, with debutant director Karan Malhotra at the helm, Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions strikes gold with ‘Agneepath’. This revenge saga is as polished as they come in Bollywood!

Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra Hot Scene from Agneepath
Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra Hot Scene from New Agneepath (2012) Hindi Movie. The film features Sanjay Dutt in a fearsome Kancha look.

For those who are not aware of the basic premise of the story, ‘Agneepath’ relates the tale of ‘Vijay’ (Hrithik Roshan), who lives with his parents in the quiet village of Mandwa. From his very childhood, ‘Vijay’ has been listening to inspiring, character-building principles about how one should always be prepared to walk through the path of fire and righteousness (hence the title of the movie – ‘Agneepath’). The family is also expecting the arrival of a new member soon, with ‘Vijay’s mother (Zarina Wahab) being pregnant again. Everything seems to be picture-perfect for young ‘Vijay’ and his family.

Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif launch Agneepath video trailer
Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt, Priyanka Chopra,Rishi Kapoor, Karan Johar at AGNEEPATH (2012) Trailer Launch

Then again, what is a Bollywood potboiler without a twist that turns the life of the main protagonist upside down? Enter the evil drug lord ‘Kancha’ (Sanjay Dutt), who kills off ‘Vijay’s father, forcing the latter to flee the village with his mother. On arrival in Mumbai, the 12-year old ‘Vijay’ is taken under his wings by another drug dealer, ‘Rauf Lala’ (Rishi Kapoor). All through his life, ‘Vijay’ has the sole ambition of avenging the brutal death of his father and bring the notorious ‘Kancha’ to justice. The only form of emotional support that ‘Vijay’ receives is in the form of ‘Kaali’ (Priyanka Chopra), who sticks with her best friend through thick and thin. Fifteen years after the death of his father, ‘Vijay’ returns to Mandwa, for a final showdown with the devious ‘Kancha’. Will ‘Vijay’ be able to make ‘Kancha’ suffer for the evil deeds of the latter? While most movie-buffs (particularly those who have seen the earlier film!) would know the answer, it is still a treat to watch the determined ‘Vijay’ take on the overpowering ‘Kancha’ on the big screen. Yes, the film is that good!

‘Agneepath’ marks a comeback of sorts for Hrithik Roshan as a solo hero on the big screen (after ‘Kites’ and ‘Guzaarish’, both of which were duds, and ‘Zindegi Na Milegi Dobara’, which had an ensemble cast). The actor is in fine fettle here and truly shows off how well he can get into the skin of a character, provided that he selects the right films for himself (which he has not consistently done over the years). Roshan’s portrayal of the iconic ‘Vijay Dinanath Chauhan’ is sincere and stirring and the emoting skills of the man proves once again that he is one of the most dependable actors around in the Hindi film industry. The journey of the simple ‘Vijay’ through life as he moves through a long chain of adversities is essayed onscreen in a fantastic manner by Hrithik. Comparisons to the great Amitabh Bachhan are inevitable, but, to his credit, Hrithik brings his own brand of style and panache to the character of ‘Vijay’, which makes the film every bit as enjoyable as the original. ‘Agneepath’ is, undoubtedly, one of the finest cinematic performances of Roshan till date.

Sanjay Dutt, as ‘Kancha’, is superb in ‘Agneepath’. In a truly menacing avatar, Dutt plays the role of a typical Hindi-film baddie with great aplomb. Indeed, there are times in the movie (plenty of them, in fact!) where it seems that the Dutt’s ‘Kancha’ is way more powerful than Roshan’s ‘Vijay’ and that adds to the charm of the movie further. After a slew of disappointing films (‘Rascals’, ‘Double Dhamaal’, ‘Chatur Singh Two Star’ and the lot), Dutt is back to what he does best – playing a negative character. The actor’s performance during the climax of the movie is also worth a special mention. Few ‘khalnayak-s’ of Hindi films have ever managed to look as terrifying and evil as ‘Dutt’s ‘Kancha’. Two thumbs up for his performance!

The character of ‘Rauf Lala’ (which was not present in the 1990 film), played by Rishi Kapoor, is an interesting addition to the cast of ‘Agneepath’. As expected, the veteran actor chips in with a sincere performance as a cunning, city-based drug dealer. Priyanka Chopra, as ‘Kaali’, manages to get herself noticed in a small but important role. It was brave of Chopra to take up a part that could easily have been overshadowed by the leading men of the film (think ‘Kaminey’), but her act leaves the audience wishing that there was more of ‘Kaali’ in the film. Arish Bhiwandiwala, the young actor who plays ‘Vijay’ in his childhood, is outstanding. Zarina Wahab and Om Puri do adequate justice to their roles. Chetan Pandit, as ‘Vijay’s dad, is decent enough before being bumped off by ‘Kancha’ quite early on in the movie. Katrina ‘Chikni Chameli’ Kaif sizzles in a catchy item number.

Any movie that has revenge as its driving theme invariably requires a crisp and fast-paced screenplay. ‘Agneepath’ falls slightly short of expectations in this regard during the first half, with the romantic sub-plot appearing more as a distraction to the flow of the main storyline in the film. However, the post-interval portion of the movie, which is nothing short of outstanding, more than makes up for the rather dull first hour of the film. The action sequences of ‘Agneepath’ are fantastic (as they needed to be!) and Abbas Ali Mogul, the action director, deserves a round of applause for his efforts. Director Karan Malhotra’s style of narration is captivating and the scenes where ‘Vijay’ and ‘Kancha’ pit their brains (and brawns!) against each other keep the viewers hooked to their seats. Dialogs, penned by Piyush Mishra, are smart too and that contributes to the overall style quotient of the movie.

The musical score of ‘Agneepath’ is pretty decent as well. While the album does not have any blockbuster track (except, maybe, for ‘Chikni Chameli’), the songs are situational and blends in perfectly with the narrative in the movie. Music directors Atul-Ajay do a good job of coming up with such songs that capture the mood of the film in the best manner possible. While ‘Gun Gun Guna’ is distinctly hummable, ‘O Saiyyan’ and ‘Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin’ are also nice. ‘Chikni Chameli’ is, of course, the standout track of the album, but that has more to do with Katrina’s pyrotechnics than the actual quality of the song. The background score, in most parts, is creative and well-designed as well.

‘Agneepath’ has certain significant deviations in its storyline from the original movie but the changes are rather smartly incorporated in the film. With Hrithik Roshan and Sanjay Dutt coming up with fantastic performances (with more than adequate support from the other members of the film’s cast), expert direction, a smart narrative and a nice musical score, ‘Agneepath’ is definitely one of the very best vendetta movies to have ever been made in Bollywood.

The original ‘Agneepath’ had fetched multiple National Awards, but had failed to do much headway as far as its theatrical business was concerned. The new movie, however, has the potential to become one of the biggest hits of the year. This one has blockbuster written all over it!

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