If Revenge were a dish best served cold, Mukul Anand made it icy. Rather, as Vijay Deenanath Chauhan rose through the echelons of the underworld in his white suit, eye liner and hoarse voice, Amitabh Bachchan sizzled with one of his most memorable performances. His, was a character powerful enough to speak through actions and as the movie centered around his vendetta, Mukul Anand extracted commendable performances through the supporting cast while engaging us in Vijay Chauhan's story. Now, Dharma Productions tries to recreate the magic with debutant director Karan Malhotra, whose violently intense but hollow remake is everything short of the legend. 'Agneepath' shouldn't have been re-made in the first place. Not with Hrithik Roshan.
The story's premise remains the same with Mandwa's school teacher Deenanath Chauhan being betrayed by the villagers in a malicious scheme devised by Kancha (Sanjay Dutt), that has him lynched from the village tree. As his son (Hrithik Roshan) vows to avenge his death and his family's humiliation, he uses Raut Lala's (Rishi Kapoor) influence to rise in the underworld. After an elimination round, Vijay Chauhan proposes a deal with Kancha directly to obtain control over Mandwa in exchange for Bombay, which was in his shoes at that point. Kancha is a mean, monstrous, evil Raavan of his Lanka and obviously that offer doesn't go down well with him. However, Vijay's entire life has been full of sacrifices only to regain his village and family's honor. He must succeed in ousting Kancha's evil reign over Mandwa.
Normally, Vijay Chauhan could've pulled this off easily. Not because he's sarva shaktimaan but because he had to be powerful enough to overcome any obstacle and defy death itself against such nemesis. Karan Malhotra instead, chose to make Vijay Chauhan more subtle, calm and ordinary. Hrithik Roshan's performance is devoid of any glamour, memorable dialogue, authority or even anger. His remorseful, guilt-ridden, secondary existence hardly match up against the challenges in store for him. 'Agneepath''s remake will be remembered if at all, for all factors other than Hrithik Roshan. Those factors include Kancha and Raut Lala. Rishi Kapoor portrays the inhuman, manipulative and authoritative Raut Lala convincingly. Never before have we seen him pull off such a negative character and his incredible acting sheds the charming image and creates a magnetic aura of evil. Apart from being a necessary character in Vijay Chauhan's rise to power, Raut Lala is also the film's big surprise with Rishi Kapoor's brilliant portrayal.
As Kancha walks into Mandwa upon his father's calling, with The Geeta in his hand, wearing a long dark kurta over a monstrous body and an evil smile upon his daunting face, we realize how weak Vijay Chauhan will be and how impervious his revenge will be. Kancha gets all the good stuff including the eerie looking lair in Mandwa, mythological quotes, canny humour, action and a chance to beat up Hrithik Roshan. Sanjay Dutt plays the part with ease and gets to exploit his versatility in his most evil role.
The writers laid more emphasis on the villains with situations, dialogues, style and degrees of evil. Thus, it shouldn't be a surprise that Hrithik Roshan gets shrouded by two terrific actors who exploit favorable conditions to deliver monumental performances. With less confidence, a couple of white shirts, glycerined eyes, lack of development and subdued characterization, Hrithik Roshan's Vijay Chauhan fades in the shadow of Amitabh Bachchan's. Barring the excessive violence, the villains will leave an impression in a movie that was supposed to be about the hero's vengeance.
To top it all, we have Priyanka Chopra's irritating character that is overly peppy, hyperactive and naÃ¯ve. She does the same thing in every big movie as though the director leaves her on her own and she goes on to ruin 'Krrish', 'Dostana', 'Don 2' and now this.
Another disappointment is the film's music. The much hyped Chikni Chameli is perhaps the worst item song ever, completely disposable from the movie and inappropriate for Katrina Kaif's standards. Deva Shree Ganesha is a good theme but tends to overwhelm the situation at hand. Shah ka Rutba is perhaps the film's only relevant and memorable song.
Ravi Chandran's cinematography captures the mood and the larger than life characters brilliantly. The colors and saturations make every scene look remarkable while set designs, costumes and make-up artists create the rest of the magic for Raut Lala and Kancha.
Karan Malhotra's ambitious attempt to recreate Vijay Deenanath Chauhan's incredible story has more evil engrained within. To the extent that it lost the importance of Vijay's suffering, sacrifice, ambition and greed for power. He lacks all the shades that make a hero and the script fails to support the cause as well. If Bombay was truly in his shoes, why doesn't he have the authority to go with it? Is he ruling it with a bunch of eunuchs from the chawl along with two henchmen? It's one thing to portray him living a simple life but austerity is quite the extreme, literally. Was he even recognized in town? He was supposed to have a huge following that would lead to an uprising in Mandwa. Here, he is begging for attention for acts that do not warrant it. These and many other aspects have been ignored for Vijay's character and therefore, the story has little impact upon the viewer. All they will remember is how powerful the villains were in comparison and how unconvincingly, Vijay Chauhan defeated them.
This was not what Mukul Anand created. A remake should atleast align itself with the original's vision if not other aspects. Raut Lala was a great creation but elsewhere, the innovation seemed to lack in a fatal manner.
As Vijay Chauhan struggles to breathe after severe beating by Kancha, in the background of a gloomy Mandwa and blaring background music, he narrates the Agneepath poem aloud and hangs Kancha up the same village tree that saw his father's lynching. It should've been an epic ending to all the violence and evil and a celebratory victory for the hero but Hrithik Roshan seems to be trying too hard to convince the villagers and the audience that he has done it! That he has achieved what Amitabh Bachchan had two decades ago. Karan Malhotra, had other plans.
6.33 on a scale of 1-10.