Agneepath (2012)

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Even if there are mighty trees all around you,
Let them be shady, let them be huge,
But, even for the shade of a single leaf,
Beg not, beg never, ask never!
The path of fire you shall tread! The path of fire! Yes, That Path of Fire!

You shall never tire,
You shall never slow down,
You shall never turn back,
This oath you will take today!
This oath you will fulfill in your life!
Take this oath!
And walk the Path of Fire, every single day!
The oath of fire! Yes, That Path of Fire!

What greater spectacle,
Than to see such a man walk,
Who in tears, sweat and blood,
Is soaked, covered and coated;
And still walks on in the Path of fire!
Walks the path of fire! Yes, That Path of Fire!

The poem is entitled Agneepath and is written by poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan, father of Amitabh Bachchan. I read somewhere that it’s to commemorate the toil of man. Both films Agneepath begins with a father teaching his son the words and as the films progress the words will become mantra for the boy. He will live, breathe and eventually die by the words.

There are revenge movies and there are Revenge movies and then there are REVENGE movies. If you think about it, all good versus evil movies are basically revenge movies in a way. The really good ones go beyond the basic template and make you empathize with a hero on a relentless pursuit of personal justice because his life is defined by it. To me the really great ones go even further – the story is about the metaphysical Good vs Evil and the hero does not only seek revenge for a great wrong done to him, he also seeks redemption. Off the top of my head, the great ones in this category include Toshiya Fujita’s Lady Snowblood (1973) and Quentin Taratino’s Kill Bill (2003) (which is an inspired remake of Lady Snowblood), perhaps even HK TVB drama The Greed of Man. Now, I will have to include Agneepath, both of them in this illustrious category.

I was totally riveted to the 2012 remake of the cult-classic. The original is amazing. I am not sure of what Bollywood movies came out during the time period of the 1990s but the original has a very Kabuki theatrical feel and everything seems to be larger than life. I have a feeling it was the zeitgeist of its time and even when I saw it recently I felt I was watching something very special. Who would want or dare to remake this classic? It’s just crazy!

Prior to watching the 2012 version, my puny mind suggests that it will just up the violent and melodrama quotient and cheat the curious patrons to buy tickets to this 3-hour epic. Oh man… I am so wrong… I am humbled. Karan Malhotra has crafted a film that displays reverence to the cult-classic and yet is able to deliver something fresh to this new generation.

The performances are awesome all round. Special mention must be given to Rishi Kapoor who made his bad guy role so 3 dimensional. It is also a role that didn’t exist in the original. This is also the first time I see Sanjay Dutt. Looking at his face, I thought he looks more fitted for comedic roles. As the ultimate evil villain Kancha, he is phenomenal. I can’t help noticing that he would have made a better Bane than Tom Hardy. Heck… Sanjay Dutt wouldn’t even need a mask to terrify Batman and Gotham! Then finally Hrithik Roshan in Amitabh Bachchan’s titular role of Vijay Chauhan. He was wise to hold back on the extreme histrionics and played his role exceptionally well. How can anyone top what Bachchan did?

The story didn’t change but the plot did which is good. Who won’t want to be surprised? Previously the song and dance numbers didn’t quite work for me because of the dark tone. So a screwball character was added to balance the serious tone with lighter moments and the song and dance numbers came from him. Personally, I didn’t like that. This remake didn’t have that problem. The songs were weaved in seamlessly and worked with the narrative flow. It even added a very hot Katrina Kaif in an even hotter dance number.

Watching both Agneepath is a superb experience. The story is the same but the stylistics and plot cannot be more different. Both are awesome movies in their own way. None paled and this is an excellent example of how to make a remake of a much revered film.

One last happy moment before all hell breaks loose

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