From the timeless tear-jerker Kuch Kuch Hota Hai to the gangster film Vaastav — it seems Bollywood is a potpourri of drama. However, this time around it’s not just the classic originals that are getting the limelight, in fact, the slicker remakes that are underway are gaining attention. One of the most anticipated remakes is Agneepath, which is set for an international release on January 26 release.
From the disappointing Umrao Jaan to the notorious Aag, the Bollywood experience with remakes has left audiences disheartened. Nevertheless, critics and audiences are hoping for a complete turnaround with Agneepath.
A 1990s Bollywood super hit film, Agneepath unleashed the angry young man in Amitabh Bachchan in the form of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan — one of the most memorable characters of Bollywood. The character of Chauhan was essentially inspired by, if not taken completely from, Tony Montana, the drug lord from the 1983 classic Scarface, played by the legendary Al Pacino. Famous Al Pacino one-liners like, “I am Tony, Tony Montana” were taken up as “Vijay, Dinanath, Chauhan” and everything from the look of the characters to their postures and way of delivering lines were similar. Nonetheless, at the time, Agneepath managed to give Bollywood something new.
Coming to the remake of Agneepath, the casting looks promising judging from the trailer release. The buffed up Hrithik Roshan plays Chauhan and a bald Sanjay Dutt plays the villain Kancha Cheena who was originally played by Danny Denzongpa. Although Bollywood has been relying on heroes instead of actors these days, the casting of Roshan in Bachchan’s legendary role has raised some eyebrows.
However, Roshan seems unaffected by all this criticism. “I think it’s absurd that anyone would think I was trying to ape the Vijay Dinanath Chauhan of the original,” he retorts. “The only way I can do justice to a movie is to make it mine, and (make) the character me. I’ve played Vijay straight and simple, without any swagger or style. He is someone who would merge in a crowd if the camera hadn’t picked him out to tell his story.”
Still, there is a chance that Dutt would steal the show from Roshan. It is a well-known fact that when the charismatic Dutt embraces an evil character, everything else fades in comparison. Right now, it seems difficult that the masala-fed Indian audiences would love the bad guy in the presence of a good one. Still, it would be interesting to see Dutt embody the kind of emotional depth portrayed by the late Heath Ledger in his iconic bad guy role of Joker in the Batman installment The Dark Knight.
When it comes to the leading lady, Priyanka Chopra fills in for Madhavi who played the character of Mary — Chauhan’s nurse and love interest in the original film. From the looks of it, Chopra may make an essentially dark film look pretty. Another interesting development is that one of the most important characters Krishnan Iyer played by Mithun Chakraborty has been removed from the film.
On the topic of Bollywood remakes, one has to be really careful with a project like Agneepath, especially since a remake of fan-favourite Sholay (another Hollywood inspired project) was a critical and commercial fail. The good thing for the Agneepath remake is that it has Yash Johar’s Dharma productions and the acclaimed Karan Johar backing the production. However, it must be remembered that Kaal, the last action film produced by Johar was a disappointment and left many eyebrows raised and critics confused.
Let’s hope that director Karan Malhotra gives Johar something to be happy about and audiences something to celebrate.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2012.