In the 90s, Vijay Dinanath Chauhan epitomised the fallacy of a celebrated gangster. It was touted as THE film of the Shahenshah and famously earned him the national award for an iconic performance.
21 odd years and we have Kancha Cheena rocking Mandwa with his ubiquitous aura. Rauf Lala becomes an aid for Vijay to avenge his father’s death and reclaim the little picturesque near the sprawling Mumbai.
For me, KJOs Agneepath is a far cry from what his dad crafted with Mukul Anand at the helm. Vijay was the consortium of an outcry in Kancha’s devious motives. He topples his empire with ferocious charm and flaunts a heart of gold. The latter is visible in the Vijay of KJOs but the former is completely gone. And, that for me, relinquishes the very soul of Karan Malhotra’s Agneepath. With few notwithstanding, Kancha Cheena, the Bollywood baddie is back rocking and Lala will remain etched in me for sometime to go.
Again, this version survives on splendid performances from its lead actors who are the antagonist. Like the original, the ladies have nothing to cash in on, though Madhavi was a critical leaf in Vijay Dinanath Chauhan’s blood-immersed life of goons. Kaali, is hardly there (except in the song and dance sequences) and her frames with Vijay lack the desired chemistry. Zarina Wahab falls prey to the script she was handed over and does justice (Rohini Hattangadi as Vijay’s unapologetic mother was an irreplaceable venture). Om Puri as Gaitunde was ordinary, and one of the finest actors in our country has been wasted. Katrina does the stealer act with ‘Chikni Chameli’ and leaves quite a few hearts famished.
You could easily blame me for rekindling past a bit too much, but then, nostalgia defines the roots of our lives in a mysterious fashion. I missed these sorely: the confrontation between Vijay and his mother on his ways, her constant attempts to keep him away from his little sister, the delicate relationship between Gaitunde & Vijay and above all, the camaraderie of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan and Kancha Cheena. And, how could I ever forget the ferocious talent of the abusive ally in Tinnu ‘Nathu’ Anand? I will always miss when stamps are bygones.
Sanjay Dutt is my favourite devil here and gives a knock out performance. He is back and look how! The muscle baldie with lingering tattoos of the ‘Shaitan’ is a look borrowed straight from hell and I adored it. Rauf Lala’s inclusion is the biggest saving grace of this Johar remake and Rishi Kapoor deserves an ovation for his stand out feat as the wrecker in chief amidst the Vijay – Kancha despair. His exit post interval took the sheen away and I had to wait till Kancha comes back for the penultimate. The dialogues fitted the bill of the need but Kader Khan’s rendition in the ’91 classic was powerful and remains undisputed.
I don’t believe in comparisons, but I revel in legendary moments. The cash registers are singing the swan song and Dharma Productions will certainly take that. But I am sure KJO will lose the reins over a cup of coffee with his dad at the outcome. And, I would, by all means, take the senior Johar’s side.