A fascinating tale of moral redemption.
Images so powerful they linger in the mind hours after they've left the screen.
And the eyes, always the eyes
the eyes of Evil, the eyes of Truth.
A young man (Hrithik Roshan) must tread the dark and difficult 'path through fire' -- lit., 'agneepath' -- of challenge and personal sacrifice to avenge his family against the crimelord (Sanjay Dutt) who brutally murdered his father, dishonoured his family, and corrupted their whole community.
If the classic 1990 "Agneepath" pioneered one of the strongest stories ever in film (and was way ahead of its time, for Hindi cinema), this 2012 "Agneepath" preserves the most effective elements of that brilliant original story and revamps what needed help. Our villain is even more evil, and the road of challenges our hero must overcome to defeat him is correspondingly an even darker, more treacherous journey.
Raw. Powerful. Primeval.
Sanjay Dutt's Kancha is a villain for the ages. Visually, he scared me just on the poster! A big, bad, very bad man. The bald head, the tattoos, the smile, the laugh, the spreading shapeless pale blobbiness of his huge bulk, and above all those hauntingly sick eyes, combine to render Mr Dutt's Kancha one of the most naturally frightening villains ever conceived. Where the original 1990 Kancha Cheena played by Danny Denzongpa was sleek and smooth and sophisticated, his evil was very modern and straightforward in open pursuit of power and wealth – and thus more familiar. Mr Dutt's Kancha, however, is pure psychopath: he destroys and kills because he LIKES it. And even though the audience understand how he became so twisted, that sickness makes him very scary indeed
the visual embodiment of human evil.
What I could *not* anticipate from the trailers, though, is how Hrithik Roshan's Vijay Dinanath Chauhan would prove equally intimidating and visually frightening as Mr Dutt's Kancha: with those keen clear eyes knifing through his face awash in blood, Mr Roshan's Vijay looks purely the Avenger-from-Hell. Director Karan Malhotra effectively channels Mr Roshan's natural intensity into a human sword of vengeance – a quiet character who 'says' a lot from the shadows, projects mountains of lurking threat and menace, even where he has no dialogue. Again the eyes, always the eyes in this film! Never before had any director so effectively used the sheer glow-in-the-dark luminosity of Mr Roshan's eyes. The iconic 1990 Vijay created by the great Amitabh Bachchan (one of his most memorable roles) was significantly older and more verbally aggressive, the character more seduced by the trappings of power and wealth, only refocussing on his essential task toward the very end. By contrast, Mr Roshan's Vijay leads a haunted, almost monk-like existence, never losing focus down the years toward destroying his enemy. Obsessed, relentless, deadly – and a perfect showcase for Mr Roshan to demonstrate, yet again, his great dramatic range as an actor.
Mr Roshan and Mr Dutt are so riveting in this film that any scenes they are not in, separately or together, honestly feel like a distraction.
Despite 12 intervening years these two great actors have lost none of the chemistry that powered 2000's excellent "Mission Kashmir". Mr Roshan is slightly the taller actor, Mr Dutt significantly the heavier, but the two are so perfectly matched and the build-up so well laid that by the climax of this "Agneepath" audience anticipation could not be higher ... or more well-rewarded.
An unforgettable, 'must-see' film!
This, despite certain of the supporting roles being poorly cast (rather shockingly, for such a high-profile project from a major production house). The performances of both Vijay's new parents were competent but undistinguished; Alok Nath as Vijay's father in the 1990 film was far superior. I quite liked the concept behind the new dark character Rauf Lala; however, naturally clown-faced Rishi Kapoor brought inadequate menace to this baddie, at least for me. (And I'll swear they made Mr Kapoor's wig out of cheap carpeting!) But easily the worst miscasting? The 12-year-old Vijay – any boy less likely, in form or colouring or behaviour, to grow into 'Hrithik Roshan' as an adult Vijay would be seriously hard to find! What were they thinking? Anyone curious about what did grow into Hrithik Roshan need look no further than 1986's "Bhagwaan Dada", wherein you'll discover that Hrithik Roshan himself at age 12 looked exactly as any reasonable person might expect: a tall skinny boy with fair skin, light green eyes, brown hair, and already the distinctively-perfect profile. But the young Vijay cast here looked so glaringly out of place – too loud, too heavy, too dark, too coarse – that every flashback (of which there are far too many) with this boy jerked me completely out of the story. Again, the original casting in the 1990 film was much more believable in that specific role.
On the plus side, however, certain female characters are much stronger and more three-dimensional in this 2012 version. Priyanka Chopra was simply outstanding as Vijay's lover and only friend, the new character Kaali – one of her best-ever performances, despite limited minutes.. Newcomer Kanika Tiwari also impressed, as Vijay's younger sister.
Veteran actor Om Puri was also extremely effective as Commissioner Gaitonde, Vijay's sometime-conscience and sometime-ally. His scenes with Mr Roshan were particularly good.
Even Katrina Kaif's jaw-dropping item number, "Chikni Chameli", may prove classic: who would have thought one could do THAT with a booze bottle!
Special credit is due the highest standards of craft professionalism that distinguish this 2012 "Agneepath", notably these departments: Cinematography (exceptional lighting and shot selection, especially with the principal actors) – Kiran Deohans and Ravi K Chandran; Sound and Sound Editing (variety and scope, silent private moments to mass public festivals, all perfectly managed) – Stephen Gomes; and Stunts/Fight Choreography (so many action scenes, but each distinct and cumulatively building to the truly epic climax) – Abbas Ali Moghul.
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