Business rating: 4 / 5 stars (Four stars)
Star cast: Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt, Priyanka Chopra, Rishi Kapoor.
What’s Good: The arresting screenplay; the performances of the cast; the Chikni Chameli song; the raw action; the canvas, the making and the shot takings; the direction.
What’s Bad: The excessive violence, blood and gore; the film is very heavy and a bit too lengthy.
Verdict: Agneepath is a surefire hit, no questions asked! It will shake the box-office today (Republic Day) and in the first weekend.
Loo break: Not really!
Watch or Not?: Watch it for so many reasons but be prepared for gore and violence… plenty of it!
Spoiler alert! You may want to skip directly to the ‘Script Analysis’ portion of the review.
Dharma Productions’ Agneepath (UA) is a revenge story. Vijay Dinanath Chauhan (master Arish Bhiwandiwala) is just a kid when his father, who is a principled, much-loved teacher in the village of Mandwa and who is respectfully called Masterji (Chetan Pandit), is framed in a rape case and is mercilessly hanged to death by Kancha (Sanjay Dutt), an evil drug lord who is not happy with the power he (Masterji) wields over the people because that comes in the way of the realisation of his evil plans. Little Vijay and his pregnant mother (Zarina Wahab) come to Bombay as their house is also burnt down by Surya, an evil young boy who grows up (Pankaj Tripathi) to join Kancha’s gang.
In Bombay, Vijay’s mother delivers a baby girl. Vijay has the burning desire to avenge his father’s killing and to restore the family’s lost honour among the people of Mandwa. To this end, little Vijay joins the gang of Rauf Lala (Rishi Kapoor), another wily drug lord who operates from Bombay, dealing not just in drugs but also in the flesh trade, and who soon takes Vijay under his wings because he sees the fire in him. Little Vijay knows that Rauf Lala hates Kancha. Vijay’s mother doesn’t see eye to eye with her son because of the path he chooses in spite of the fact that his principled father had taught him other lessons of life. Vijay’s sister lives with his mother in Bombay and is, in fact, not even aware of his existence in her growing-up years.
Vijay grows up to become a smart, handsome and clever young man (Hrithik Roshan). His childhood friend, Kaali, has also grown up to become a beautiful young lady (Priyanka Chopra) who lives in the same chawl in Bombay as Vijay.
Fifteen years have elapsed. Vijay now thinks, it’s the right time to strike. In his quest to wipe out evil, he first eliminates Rauf Lala’s son, Mazhar (Rajaysh Tandon), and then Rauf Lala himself when the latter tries to sell Shiksha (newfind Kanika Tiwari), the 15-year-old sister of Vijay. Wielding a lot of power, he now goes to Mandwa to lure Kancha to sell his drugs in Bombay, having eliminated Kancha’s arch-rival, Rauf Lala. The aim is, of course, to take revenge.
Does Kancha fall prey to Vijay’s designs to trap him? Is he able to realise that Vijay is Masterji’s son? Does Vijay succeed in his dual missions – to avenge his father’s murder and to restore the family honour in Mandwa? Does Vijay’s mother forgive him? What happens to Kaali – does Vijay marry her and live happily ever after with her?
Agneepath Review: Script Analysis
The film, adapted from the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer of the same name, has more or less the same story. However, its screenplay is so engaging that it makes for compelling viewing. Screenplay writers Ila Bedi Dutta and Karan Malhotra keep the audience interest alive throughout despite occasional dull moments, because they offer so much drama and so many characters. The film, no doubt, is a bit too lengthy and heavy because there aren’t many light moments but the lack of humour is intentional so that the revenge angle is not diluted. Womenfolk may not approve of the blood, violence and gore but it is not as if they will not approve of the film which has a lot of other things to offer to them too. The best part of the screenplay is that it packs in emotions in the violent drama so beautifully that it would make the weak-hearted cry and at least emotionally move the others. Another plus point of the screenplay is that the characterisations are so well-defined that no one ever digresses.
The first half is heavier than the second half and also seems a bit too long. But it does have its riveting moments. There may be people who object to the late entry of Hrithik Roshan but grammatically, the childhood of Vijay had to be established very well for the revenge drama to appeal as much as it does. So the writers have done the right thing by concentrating on Vijay’s childhood portions in the first few reels. The second half may be more violent but it moves at a much faster pace. The climax is very mass-appealing and satisfying. Dialogues, penned by Piyush Mishra, are well-suited to the drama but a section of the audience will miss the high-voltage and filmi dialogues which could’ve evoked claps.
Agneepath Review: Star Performances
Hrithik Roshan does an absolutely mind-blowing job. He plays Vijay so wonderfully that this could go down in Bollywood history as one of his best performances to-date. Note, for instance, how he uses his eyes and body language to convey the emotions, whether of anger, hurt, love or joy. He is terrific indeed and his performance is award-winning! His physique is to die for. Priyanka Chopra shines in a comparatively short role. She makes the character of Kaali very endearing. Her dances are extremely graceful and she shines in emotional scenes. Sanjay Dutt looks supremely menacing as Kancha. His get-up is well thought of and his acting only adds to his terror and his eccentric character. Sanjay Dutt’s performance will be loved by the masses and the single-screen audience. There are bright chances of him winning the award for the best negative role. Rishi Kapoor plays Rauf Lala to such perfection that he deserves distinction marks for it. Again, his get-up makes him look the evil character he plays and his performance is remarkable, to say the least. Rishi Kapoor could indeed pick up awards for his villainy. Om Puri is good in the role of the understanding police officer, Eknath Gaitonde. Zarina Wahab has her moments in which she gets the right emotions to the fore. Chetan Pandit lives his character of a contented, concerned and principled school teacher. Kanika Tiwari makes an impressive debut as Vijay’s 15-year-old sister, Shiksha. Rajaysh Tandon is effective as Rauf Lala’s elder son, Mazhar. Deven Bhojani leaves a mark as Azhar, the younger son of Rauf Lala. Sachin Khedekar plays the home secretary with conviction. Brijendra Kala is a fine actor and this comes across even in the tiny role he has as the munim. Pankaj Tripathi (as Surya) and Ravi Jhankal (as Shantaram) add their bits. Madhurjeet Sarghi (in the role of Kaali’s mother), Sunil Chauhan (as the police officer who is killed by little Vijay), Rajesh Vivek (as police officer Bakshi) and Banvari Taneja (as Kancha’s father) lend the desired support. Master Arish Bhiwandiwala is first-rate as little Vijay. His expressions and acting are superb. Katrina Kaif adds loads of glamour, sex and oomph in a special appearance in the super-hit Chikni Chameli song.
Agneepath Review: Direction & Music
Director Karan Malhotra has handled the revenge drama with authority and he makes a fantastic first impression in his debut directorial venture. He is in total command of the subject and his cast and not only extracts great work from out of the actors but also keeps the audience engaged in the drama which unfolds on the screen. The man knows his art and craft and also seems to understand the commercial side of filmmaking. He is producer Karan Johar’s New Year gift to the industry just as this film is Johar’s Republic Day gift to the audience.
Ajay-Atul’s music score needs special mention. Firstly, it is difficult to integrate songs in a tension-ridden revenge drama like this film but the music composers and director have done that quite smoothly. The Chikni Chameli song is already a rage and it will prove to be the repeat-value item song of the film. Its picturisation on Katrina Kaif (by Ganesh Acharya) is terrific. Kudos to Katrina, Acharya and the music duo team for a delightful song-dance number which will make the front-benchers salivate. Katrina has done the difficult, energetic and vigorous dance steps with the ease of a seasoned dancer. The Gun gun guna and Deva shree Ganesha songs are also quite tuneful. Priyanka Chopra’s dance (choreographed by Saroj Khan) on the Gun gun guna song is fascinating. The picturisation of the Ganesha song (Chinni Prakash and Rekha Chinni Prakash) is grand. Shah ka rutba stands out for Rishi Kapoor’s dance (choreography: Brinda) on it. The Abhi mujh mein kahin song has tremendous lyrical value (Amitabh Bhattacharya). Ajay-Atul deserve the highest praise for a mesmerising background scroe which greatly elevates the drama. Stephen Gomes’ sound designing also needs to be lauded. Cinematography (Kiran Deohans and Ravi K. Chandran) is top class. The crowd scenes, the action sequences, the scenes picturised in the rains, the dance picturisations are all just too wonderful. Sabu Cyril’s sets are fantastic. Action and stunts, by Abbas Ali Moghul, are raw and they may be too violent but they are brilliant, nevertheless. Although the action scenes are very gory and may put off the ladies audience, they will be adored and applauded by the masses. Akiv Ali’s editing is crisp. Production values are grand. Other technical aspects are of a high order.
Agneepath Review: Komal Nahta’s Verdict
On the whole, Agneepath is a surefire hit. It has taken a bumper initial and its four-day weekend would be stupendous. Given that it has already recovered more than half its investment of around Rs. 75 crore from sale of satellite and audio rights and another around 15% from sale of Overseas and home video rights, recovery of the balance 35% (from the point of view of the producers) should be a cakewalk. In fact, the share of the first weekend alone – yes, first weekend alone – should be more than enough – yes, more than enough – to cover the balance part of the investment. The share accruing in the remaining four days of the 8-day week and in the weeks to follow will all go towards the profits. Anil Thadani, who has acquired the distribution rights of part of the territories of India and is distributing the film in the balance Indian circuits alongwith the producers, will also make handsome profits.