Why Agneepath needed a remake

Some movies just need to be there, embedded in our memories. We shouldn’t attempt to refresh its memory by trying to watch them again.

I now regret having watched Agneepath again after all these years. All the fondness is now gone. Before the DVD began to whirr I had these glorious tales to tell the Chaiwali (who hadn’t watched the ‘landmark’ film yet) and within an hour into the movie we were watching it in fast forward. She just wanted to get over with it.

Agneepath - The original and the remake

When someone watching a movie for the first time, watches it in 4X, it does tell a lot about the film. I tried, feebly, to defend Mukul Anand, Amitabh Bachchan and Mithun Chakraborty. But faced with the reality of over the top acting, clumsy script, lacklustre direction and a bore of a music track, I gave up. The realisation had settled in that Agneepath was indefensible. It was a bad movie, that in equally bad times went on to earn some money and bagged some big awards (including National Awards for both Amitabh and Mithun). And this is perhaps why, even though Karan Johar will never acknowledge it, the film is being remade.

The plot still holds promise. Revenge always spelled revenue and still does. Before re-watching the original Agneepath, I, initially, was disheartened on reading that they were doing away with the character of Krishnan Iyer (MA/Yamye). Now I understand. The bad baggage of the original was too heavy to carry into a fresh film, at a time when the audiences’ tastes have evolved and are therefore much less forgiving. If Hrithik Roshan is playing a 36-year-old Vijay Deenanath Chauhan, at least he looks 36 (he is in fact 37) and not a 48-year-old Amitabh pretending to be a dozen years younger. Also Priyanka Chopra, though often overrated, is an actress of more calibre than Madhavi.

The only thing that was good about the original Agneepath was Danny Dengzongpa as Kancha Cheena. The character and the manner in which Danny played the role had style. Bollywood of the 1980s and early 1990s had very few classy villains and Kancha Cheena was one. However, Kancha Cheena has also gone for an overhaul. The stylish suits and shades have been replaced with a raw and evil look. Instead of Danny’s gelled back hair we will get to see Sanjay Dutt’s baldplate and a strategically placed earring.

The general impression may be that Karan Malhotra, in his debut directorial venture, will be weighed down by the perception that he is remaking a ‘classic’. But then he shouldn’t have any such worries, anything he does will undoubtedly be an improvement (unless, Karan manages to better Ram Gopal Varma in the bad remake department).

Agneepath was not a classic, those of you who still feel so please make the effort to watch it again on DVD (or in the YouTube playlist embedded below) and the illusion will shatter. It is an example of a good idea being badly executed.

Past errors need atonement. That’s what Dharma Productions seems to be doing.

Agneepath (2012) trailer

Agneepath (1990) – Watch the full movie