When the trailer of Ram Gopal Varma’s Aag was released in early 2007, fans were brimming with excitement that the Bollywood classic Sholay (which ironically itself was a remake of Hollywood film The Magnificent Seven) was being remade by the powerhouse behind Satya. Although a lot of effort was put in the remake; unfortunately, the only thing that seemed to have really worked was Urmila Matondkar replacing Helen as the item girl for “Mehbooba”.
Bollywood actors Ajay Devgn and Mohanlal replaced Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra and their characters were renamed as ‘Raj’ and ‘Hero’ instead of ‘Jai’ and ‘Veero’ as in the original. Bachchan, who was in the remake as well, played the role of the villain ‘Babban’ in Aag replacing the evergreen ‘Gabbar Singh’ in Sholay. All in all, the film was a disappointment and apart from the stylistic elements, such as cinematography and art design, it lacked innovation and had major casting flaws.
So the question arises — can Bollywood learn from its mistakes? Probably not, as is evident by a number of remakes that are underway. One of them being another Bachchan classic — Agneepath. This time around, Karan Johar — the man behind Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and Kal Ho Na Ho — will produce the action flick.
Agneepath (1990) has been a major contribution to action films in Bollywood and the character of ‘Vijay Deenanath Chauhan’, played by Bachchan, lives on in the hearts of Bollywood buffs. In the original Agneepath, Bachchan avenges his father’s death by becoming a part of Kancha Cheena’s (the man who killed his father) business and causing it to collapse.
The trailer of the remake, which was released recently, looks much more exciting than Aag’s did, mostly due to the powerful cast. Hrithik Roshan plays the character of Chauhan, and Sanjay Dutt, takes on the role of Cheena. But, the bigger question is whether director Karan Malhotra will actually contribute to the original Agneepath or make a complete new film based on a similar plot and characters.
Only time can tell whether it will be as disappointing as the 2006 Umrao Jaan remake or the new Aag. However, Johar is known to produce miracles, especially when he is just producing the film and not directing it.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2011.
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