Friday, January 27, 2012


Release date:
January 26, 2012
Karan Malhotra
Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt, Rishi Kapoor, Zarina Wahab, Chetan Pandit, Arish Bhiwandiwala, Priyanka Chopra

Let me be honest and tell you right at the start that I’m not in love with the earlier Agneepath directed by Mukul S. Anand, produced by Yash Johar and starring Amitabh Bachchan. I realise that Bachchan won a National Award for it, but this is part of my least favourite phase in his career when he seemed not to have come to terms with his advancing years and had become a victim of his own image and stardom.
2012’s Agneepath produced by Johar’s son Karan is melodramatic no doubt. But the melodrama works in large parts because it’s got something the old Agneepath did not have. Someone, actually. Well, make that several someones … it’s got Hrithik Roshan who, unlike some of his senior male colleagues, seems refreshingly confident of his gracefully ageing face; it’s got debutant director Karan Malhotra who joins the ranks of the very few directors who know how to handle present-day Bollywood’s most beautiful man; it’s got Ajay-Atul’s rousing background score. Add to that veteran Rishi Kapoor effortlessly shedding his nice-guy image to deliver a typically under-stated performance as a cruel gangster, and Arish Bhiwandiwala playing the little Hrithik with natural ease, and you will know why I say that though I have many objections to Agneepath, I was still greatly affected by it.
Objection #1: the length. It’s not that entire scenes should have been removed from this film, but that at too many places especially in the second half, once a point has been made, the director still stretches the scene beyond requirement … by seconds and even minutes.
This applies most to scenes involving Sanjay Dutt playing the bad guy Kancha. Dutt relies less on acting skills and more on his physicality, make-up and camera angles to create a menacing persona ... and menacing it is, no doubt! But the script which so effectively develops Hrithik’s Vijay Dinanath Chauhan for us, fails with Kancha. Don’t give a back story if you don’t want to, but don’t give us a half-baked one in passing! Every time Kancha appears on screen, the film loses energy with its studied effort to build him up as a towering personification of evil ... with some slow motion thrown in, a long shot here, an extreme close-up there.
Objection #2: Priyanka Chopra’s role. If you need any evidence of how male dominated this industry is, watch one of India’s top female stars reduced to a minor player in this film. You may argue that a small role could be significant, but let’s face it, Hrithik is unlikely to play such a tiny part in a film that’s primarily a vehicle for its female star! Besides, it’s not the length of Priyanka’s role that’s disturbing, but its insignificance. Sure, she’s good while she’s there, but she’s hardly there! Why oh why did an actress of her stature and talent accept this film?!
Objection #3: the songs. Deva Shree Ganesha is nice and picturised on a lavish scale. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s mischievous lyrics in Chikni chameli are fun ... “Chikni chameli, chupke akeli, pauwwa chadha ke ayee.” But the rest of the songs are unmemorable and unnecessary.
The story remains faithful to the original: a boy witnesses his honest father – a village teacher and reformer – being framed and then killed by the drug lord Kancha in Mandwa, not far from Mumbai. The child grows up to be Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, right hand man of Mumbai don Rauf Lala (Rishi Kapoor). Kancha wants to rule Mumbai, Vijay wants to return to Mandwa to avenge his father’s humiliation and death. He is a victim of circumstances, moved by his parents’ ideals yet convinced that they are not for this world; an essentially good man whose bitterness is destroying him. Two important changes in this remake: Rauf Lala is a new addition and thankfully, the south-Indian-stereotype-ridden character of Krishnan Iyer MA (played by Mithun Chakraborty) has been done away with.
Agneepath 2012 is stylish, well acted, moving in many places, with engrossingly old-fashioned, well executed, chilling action scenes and a hero who makes you weep with him. Some people may find the violence too gruesome, I did not. The writers and director also show rare courage in making Hrithik and Priyanka appear for the first time about 40 minutes into the film, and yet it is arresting until then.
My problem with Agneepath is that in spite of its many powerful scenes, it didn’t form a cohesive whole for me. On the plus side, Karan Malhotra is clearly good with actors. For a while now, even as recently as Don2, the incredibly talented Om Puri has appeared disinterested in his films. Here though, as the upright policeman who reminds Vijay of his dad, he’s far more involved than usual. There’s a tenderness to Vijay’s relationship with the ACP and also with his father played by the ever reliable and likeable Chetan Pandit. In fact, the lengthy opening scene with young Vijay and schoolmaster Dinanath Chauhan is lovely, a confluence of good acting, a breathtakingly atmospheric location, excellent camera work and Piyush Mishra’s clever dialogue writing. When the boy is told that Mahatma Gandhi said an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind, he shoots back, “Mahatma Gandhi Mandwa mein paida nahin hue thhe.
Hrithik, for his part, is wise not to imitate AB senior. He is nearly a decade younger than Bachchan was in the original, and he makes Vijay Dinanath Chauhan his very own. Yes, we do get to see his fabulous body, but there’s nothing self-conscious about those scenes. And in Karan Malhotra’s able hands, he delivers a finely controlled performance which is enough to make you forgive Agneepath for the tedium intermittently caused by its length.
Rating (out of five): ***
CBFC Rating:                       U/A
Language:                              Hindi


  1. Mam
    Haven't seen the movie yet. Was waiting for your review, so that i can go and enjoy the movie with setting limits on my expectations!Anyway,from your review,it's clearly understood that it's an above average, yet a good movie, and one should watch it for the performance of Hrithik roshan.Thank you for this detailed review..will let you know after i watch the movie..:)

  2. Anna, I went in to the movie with an expectation of the original etched in memory.Am a huge fan of Mukul Anands Original and Amitabs towering act. With with such a high marker, was very satisfying to see Hrithik push his acting prowess earnestly. Sure Piggy Chops , Om Puri were wasted.Double agree to why Piggy even accepted this minuscule , simultaneously admiring the spunk in Vidya Balan to chooses to swim against the tide yet swing it in her favor. The Karan's Johar+ Malhotra..attempt Grand without the Grandeur..I agreement without contest on your 3 stars..will add another half for Hritikh,Rishi,Piggy&Chameli.

  3. Anna ur review is bang on! Loved the movie for all the reasons u listed & disliked it for the same reasons as u. Hritik & Rishi were amazin! Om Puri as always does every role given to him effortlessly . And so true why, did Priyanka take such a teeny tiny role. Here in the US they even chopped the hritik priyanka song shown in the trailers. I thought Hritik n sis scenes were rather nice. Gr8 review

  4. Great review but I am going to have to overrule your objections :) PC's role was short, but I'm glad she accepted it. The story didn't need for her role to be any longer, and she did it to perfection. Here we had Hrithik Roshan and Sanjay Dutt deliver their career-best performances, and yet PC held her own and lit up the screen every time she appeared.

    I don't remember watching the original Agneepath, but I doubt even Amitabh Bachchan would have acted as well as Hrithik did, and I am absolutely certain Sanjay Dutt's performance blew Danny Denzongpa's out of the water.

    Overall, a mind-blowing movie with several great performances.

  5. Hi Anna,
    I haven't seen the old version and hence couldn't make a comparison with the new version. But I felt the Hrithik starer as an intense, hard hitting manly movie. As far as I am concerned, Hrithik is the only actor who could do justice to the central character Vijay and the angry young man tag befits him well than any other actor. Also I hope the role of Kancha will be a turning phase in Sujay Dutt's career. Hrithik's biceps in the climax scene was worth-watching. I disagree with your views on the female character & if you say that actresses been sidelined in this film, I would deny it by claiming the role of Serena Wahab. She did a commendable role as Vijay’s affable mother Suhasini and in few scenes involving Hrithik and her were poignant. On the whole I liked the movie as I felt the director succeeded in conveying the message in right sense to the audience....


  6. They made Kabhi khushi Kabhi gam out of a revenge story!!! Did no one notice a black eyed 5 fingered boy becoming a green eyed 6 fingered one??? Or basic detailing is too much to ask? Sanjay dutt looked like a toad, scenes ended abruptly or went on like forever - Hrithik tried hard - but was failed by a terrible script and bad direction - as you said - the whole wAs missing- really disappointing!

  7. I largely agree with you especially the objections you raised. Regarding the 'gracefully ageing face' comment about Hrithik, I agree here but film makers still live in denial. He's shown to be 27 year old here! (12 year old when his father dies + 15 years' age leap).
    Here's my post should you get an opportunity to read:

  8. This movie was such crap!! They should have donated the money to charity instead of remaking a bad movie.

  9. Hi,
    Awesome review!!
    P.S. Used to follow you while I was a regular reader of The New Indian Express. I liked your article in FaithLine (16/01/2003) and commented on it which was also published in letters to the editor. Didn't know that you are into movie review presently. Good to know about you. Started following you on twitter.

  10. "Not cohesive" is rather understated. What a horrid horrid film! I walked out when the sweet birthday song began to zap every connection in my brain. And I'm a Hrithik fan.
    Why was everyone in the movie shouting? Why are Hindi movies so horrendously overdone? Why does every emotion have to be HAMplified and force-fed to the audience, non-stop?
    Sanjay Dutt was atrocious in the part of the movie I did see. His Gita paath made me cringe. What a waste of a fine actor, poured down the drain for the sake of spectacle.
    Priyanka Chopra was worse than unrequired.
    And Om Puri should retire now.
    The South Indian caricature was missing, but the kajal-heavy Muslim gangster was overdone too.
    Bollywood has got its production standards right but it's getting so lost in them. A loose script in an action movie, one that was a remake to begin with?
    Felt cheated by the film.

  11. Overdose of sound effects.. failed visual effects..
    (if removed all the technological arts) Hrithik looked like an ordinary guy next door.. why would anybody consider that as an acting? Priyanka Chopra and Rishi Kapoor were superlative though!!
    DevD.. all the way, is the best remake of any old hindi movie till date.

  12. I'm a huge Hrithik fan and so went along to see Agneepath out of sheer loyalty. I did see the original film but all I remember are Amitabh's haggard face and red-rimmed eyes. After wanting to walk out at periodic intervals (I'm one of those who found the violence terribly overdone), I sat through the film but at the end, found no convincing explanation for why this film had to be remade. It's set at the same time as the original, it tells largely the same story, uses the same tropes, uses current technology/fx spectacularly on the same stunts. Sure, there are some super performances. But beyond that, it's irrelevant. KJo's achieved his dream of making his father's flop film into a moneyspinner but I think that's where the film's justification ends. Apart from showcasing, of course, how much money Warner Bros could have saved in prosthetics and Ralph Fiennes' fees if they'd cast Sunjubaba as Voldemort!

  13. Tks for all your posts, everyone. I'm afraid I've been neglecting the comments section of my blog this year. I promise to be better in the coming months:

    A quick word to Shrey:
    I agree that it was silly of the film to try to convince us that Hrithik's character in this film is in his 20s. The reason why I didn't mention this in my review is that it's a point I'm constantly making in my reviews so here I thought I'd give it a break. Besides, for a change I was so relieved by the fact that in Agneepath: (a) Hrithik looks obviously in his late 30s, and (b) Hrithik does not seem to have made any effort to hide the advancing years in this film. But your point is well taken. :)

  14. Old Agneepath was a classic in each and every sense of the word. Who doesn't liked the original Agneepath has no sense of cinema according to me. And talking about new Agneepath and ur rating of 3.5 to this stupid piece of cinema, let me tell u, Hrithik doesn't knows how to act. It's people like u who make tall claims about him. He can never act. Comparing him with classic's Bachchan is as stupid as giving this shitty remake 3.5 stars. I will never forgive KJo for destroying a classic for the sake of money. What a movie original one was. Stylish and suave. And in the remake we've this 'ganji' wearing Kancha and Vijay. Where the hell was the agression for which VDC was famous for?

    In the end I'll repeat myself. The remake was nothing but a piece of SHIT.

    1. Dear My Thoughts,

      The tone and language of your comment is such that it's clear it will be impossible to have a polite debate with you, so I'm not going to respond to any of the points you have made. However, kindly note a factual error in your comment - I've given this film 3 stars, not 3.5 stars as you say.

      Regards, Anna MM Vetticad