Agneepath

Outdated and unintentionally funny…

Agneepath; Dharma Productions; Source: Wikipedia

Hrithik Roshan starrer Agneepath was an unintentional funny film for me. No, I am not really a big fan of the original (1990; directed by Mukul Anand) starring Amitabh Bachchan but if we are talking remakes then the earlier version still wins. Karan Malhotra’s new Agneepath is full of plot holes and has the 80s-90s film-making sensibility that makes you cringe. I am a big fan of the original masala style of Bollywood film-making but the new Agneepath seems more outdated than the original one. Of course, the new film is also set in the 90s (1992 to be precise) but in a thriller made in 2012, one expects the filmmaker to respect the intellect of the audience. Let me list down a few gaffes to illustrate my point (spoilers ahead).

Before I do that let me share a brief synopsis for those not familiar with the plot. Agneepath is a revenge drama that begins in a tiny island near Mumbai called, Mandwa. A greedy landlord cum goon, Kaancha Cheena (Sanjay Dutt) falsely blames a conscientious school teacher and village leader, Deenanath Chauhan of rape and murder. Led by Kaancha Cheena, the village mob lynches the teacher whose pregnant wife and young son, Vijay escape to Mumbai. Years later, Vijay returns to extract revenge and to win back Mandwa. And here are some of the goofs that did not allow me to take the film seriously:

  • Inspector Gaitonde (Om Puri) makes a presentation on the gang wars in Mumbai and in the slide show, presents a photograph of an emerging young gangster, Vijay Deenanath Chauhan (played by Hrithik Roshan). Unfortunately, the picture is not the latest one but of a 12-year-old Vijay (Arish Bhiwandiwala) as they haven’t been able to get a recent photo of him (he is now shown to be 27-years old). Gaitonde goes on to describe everything about the gangster, down to his address and the charitable trust he runs. 10-minutes later, Vijay pays what-seems-like a regular visit to the inspector at the police station. But, they haven’t been able to get a picture!
  • Inspector Gaitonde in his detailed slide show also talks about Mandwa, which apparently is run by Kaancha Cheena like Hitler’s concentration camp. Really! And the Government of India sits pretty? As per him, they do not raid Mandwa as last time they tried, it led to many civilians dying in cross fire and human rights commission created a ruckus. So, now they decide to let Mandwa be.
  • In the second half, Vijay’s mother, Suhasini Chauhan (Zarina Wahab) while watching TV recognises a gangster murdered by Vijay as Surya from Mandwa. Please note when she left Mandwa, 15-years-ago, Surya was a kid and did not look anything like his grown up version. Neither did Suhasini stay in touch with folks in Mandwa who’d send her photographs (also Facebook wasn’t there in 1992). Heck, she didn’t even stay in touch with her own son!
  • After recognising Surya on TV, Suhasini for some reason goes to the police station to explain Vijay’s revenge plan to Inspector Gaitonde. Why? I don’t know. Why does she explain it to the first police man she sees (who is on pay rolls of Kaancha) I don’t know!
  • Hrithik has abs made of steel! In a fight with Kaancha, Vijay gets stabbed by at least a 12-inch long and 2-inch wide knife but after his shirt is torn (yes ladies, the abs are on display) you only see a hint of blood and lots of black soot.

Let’s leave all this aside and agree that the director wanted to make a 90s style film and didn’t care much about logic. After all Bollywood is about taking a leap of faith! Even then the film doesn’t shine much as both the build up and the climax are long and tedious (screenplay: Karan Malhotra, Ila Dutta Bedi; editing: Akiv Ali). Cinematography by Kiran Deohans is excellent but the production design lets it down. Sabu Cyril’s sets are so unbelievable that you forgive Omung Kumar’s over the top designs for Bhansali films. The fake banyan tree and Kaancha Cheena’s den look silly and well… fake! Music by Ajay-Atul is just about ok and the songs hinder the narrative (lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya). The much talked about item song, Chikni Chameli (featuring Katrina Kaif) does what it was meant to – help in film marketing and support a dragging second half. Being an action film, you’d expect some memorable stunts or fight sequences but you get none; there is just a lot of blood and gore (action: Abbas Ali Moghul).

Coming to the acting department; I think Karan Johar did well by choosing Hrithik Roshan over Abhishek Bachchan, son of the original Vijay Deenanath Chauhan. Hrithik does a good job and is believable in a local, gritty character that is cunning and opportunistic. Priyanka Chopra as Kaali is forgettable; she had a small role in Kaminey also and we remember Sweety but here you don’t connect with her, you don’t care for her. Sanjay Dutt as Kaancha Cheena is menacing and looks-wise reminds you of Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now and Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort in Harry Potter. The real star of the film however is Rishi Kapoor who plays Rauf Lala, a ruthless drug lord in Mumbai. His is a new character that did not exist in the original film but leaves an impact.

Watch Agneepath if you’re a Hrithik fan and also for Rishi Kapoor.

My rating: * * * Almost three on five

– Shrey Khetarpal

 

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Blue

 

This is no Indiana Jones…

Pic: Blue; Source: planetbollywood.com

You get foreign technicians to work on your film, give itsy-bitsy bikinis to your leading lady to wear, shoot at some breath-taking locales and spend a bomb on under-water sequences… you definitely get a good looking film (except Sanjay Dutt’s paunch). Directed by Anthony D’Souza, Blue is just a good looking film, that’s about it. Pegged as an underwater treasure-hunt adventure flick, Blue disappoints with its weak script. It lacks the edge-of-the-seat thrills and the mind-games expected of a treasure-hunt film.

The film starts with the one of the cheesiest lines I have heard on-screen this year, it goes something like this, ‘Paisa, samunder ki macchli aur ladki ka dil… in par kisi ka naam nahin likha hota’ (no one’s name is written on money, fish and a woman’s heart). Immediately I knew that I am not to expect anything smart from the film. Leave aside the excitement of National Treasure or Indiana Jones, the film’s screenplay doesn’t even match up to the 1992 treasure-hunt film, Daulat Ki Jung starring Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla.

Akshay Kumar plays Aarav, a rich businessman in Bahamas who wants his friend cum employee Sagar (Sanjay Dutt) to help him find a lost treasure in the sea. Sagar apparently knows the location of the treasure but for some reason is not willing to go and look for it. Zayed Khan plays Sam, Sagar’s brother (poor guy, till when he would have to play kid brother characters) and Lara Dutta plays Mona, Sagar’s love interest. All characters are poorly developed and you hardly relate to any of them. The film has a few twists in the end but all predictable, so the climax is also extremely thanda.

Akshay is quite irritating in the film as he once again reprises his Kambakkht Ishq like Casanova character; honestly, isn’t he tired himself? Sanjay looks quite old and you want to look away from the screen when he appears in his diving gear with his stomach clearly outlined. I pity Lara who has a brief role with two and a half songs and maybe three dialogues, it seems that she wasn’t shown the script (whatever was there); even Katrina’s cameo has more importance attached to it. Regarding Zayed, he was all right in the role he had but a little too enthusiastic.

Another big disappointment in the film is A R Rahman’s music; not that it’s bad but certainly not Rahman standard. The title track ‘Blue’ is shot extremely well with some great under-water footage; while another hyped song, ‘Chiggy Wiggy’ with Kylie Minogue is just not up to the mark. Cinematography by Laxman Utekar is good and so are some of the action sequences.

Overall, Blue has more style than substance and I would recommend Abbas-Mastan’s Race, which had both in true Bollywood masala way. Regarding the film’s USP, its under-water sequences, go watch an infotainment channel instead, you’d get a better deal.

One thing that I could not understand in the film, please explain if you can. A group of angry goons enter Sanjay Dutt’s house in a scene and start shooting at everything in his living room; Sanjay who is having coffee with Lara in the dining room, decides to wear his sunglasses after hearing the sound of the bullets. Any idea why?

My Rating: * * Two stars (on five)

Shrey Khetarpal