Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

January 27, 2012

Sweet revenge

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:33 pm

January 27, 2012

Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Sanjay Dutt, Rishi Kapoor, Zarina Wahab, Chetan Pandit, Arish Bhiwandiwala, Om Puri

Director: Karan Malhotra

Debutant director Karan Malhotra’s re-telling of Mukul Anand’s 1990 vendetta movie Agneepath is a glossy, well-acted production. Compared to recent ‘mass entertainers’ that tend to lazily sacrifice story and plot for retro-style action and star appeal, this remake rolls along like a well-oiled machine. And yet, after watching three hours of stabbing, gunfire, blasts, and hand-to-hand fighting, you realize the film is somewhat crippled by its over-indulgent length.

Despite the almost 22-year gap, this new Agneepath retains the basic thread of its predecessor, and opens in the seaside village of Mandwa in 1977. The plot kicks in with the unjust killing of schoolteacher Dinanath Chauhan. His murder at the hands of sadistic villain Kancha, played menacingly by Sanjay Dutt, is witnessed by Dinanath’s young son Vijay, who grows up with an indefatigable thirst for revenge. As Vijay moves to Mumbai with his pregnant mother, played by Zarina Wahab, he aligns himself with Kancha’s rival – drug-don and pimp Rauf Lala, taken on in an unforgettable turn by Rishi Kapoor.

Fifteen years later, Hrithik Roshan is the grown-up Vijay, commander-in-chief to Lala’s empire. Estranged from his mother and teenaged sister because of the life of crime he chooses, Vijay lives in a Dongri chawl, and is the gunman with a good heart, who’s won the love of Kali, played by Priyanka Chopra, the motor-mouthed local girl who runs a Chinese beauty parlor in the neighborhood.

The film forges ahead, with high-voltage action scenes, chilling confrontations, double crossing, and gang wars. But Vijay moves with single-minded purpose, as if on a chessboard, working towards eliminating Kancha, who has transformed Mandwa into an isolated fortress for his cocaine production.

Now Agneepath is a throwback to those heightened action dramas of the 90s, so every dialogue is delivered as a punch-line; our hero may be battered and stabbed, yet he’ll rise like the phoenix, and the women are flung around to be raped or sold as sex slaves. As the noisy background score further testifies, subtlety is not an art here, but first-time director Malhotra handles the scale of this star-heavy, lavishly-mounted remake competently. He extracts strong performances not only from his leads, but also from supporting players like Chetan Pandit who plays Vijay’s upright father Dinanath, and Arish Bhiwandiwala whose eyes literally torch up the screen as the younger, angry Vijay.

However, the sometimes trite dialogues, and a few underdeveloped characters stick out like a sore thumb…take Om Puri playing upright cop Gaitonde, who pops up chiefly to deliver moral sermons to Vijay, or the frustratingly over-the-top Deven Bhojwani as Rauf Lala’s mentally-challenged son. Priyanka Chopra too gets a raw deal because her character is sketched as either hyper-comical or hyper-dramatic. To justify her part, the writers throw in more romantic scenes than needed, and these only further slacken the film’s pace. While the music by Atul-Ajay has its high points, the songs – yes, even Chikni Chameli – eat into the narrative, as over-choreographed as they are.

The film is enhanced by uncompromising, brutal action, and by its striking camerawork…especially those scenes framed against a monsoon sky, heavy with dark clouds. In fact, Sanjay Dutt’s entry in one such scene, his black-clad figure stomping across a bridge, stays with you. After watching him sleepwalk in film after film, it’s refreshing to see Dutt make this character his own – his sheer bulk adds to the overall evil of Kancha. He loses some of that sheen when he chants Sanskrit into an apocalyptic sky, yet his presence is freakishly powerful.

Rishi Kapoor too is deliciously despicable in his career’s most memorable negative role. He’s positively creepy when selling young girls in an open market, and has the commanding presence of a most-wanted criminal. His is the performance that returns to haunt you long after you’ve seen the film.

Amitabh Bachchan, who won a National Award for his performance in the earlier film, defined Vijay Dinanath Chauhan with a stylized performance, including a hoarse voice and a swagger. But it’s Hrithik Roshan who redefines this Agneepath. He plays the character without the flourish that Bachchan brought, turning him into a ruthless machine for revenge, yet shouldering layers of hurt, pain and rage that make you match step with him on his journey. He commands the camera once again and delivers a riveting, sincere performance.

I’m going with three out of five for director Karan Malhotra’s Agneepath. It is in the end, an old-fashioned revenge drama treated in that melodramatic, over-the-top style. You’re not likely to be bored by the intense action and the solid performances, but prepare to be exhausted by just how long this film plays on.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. what about the realistic part of the movie I asked. Are you north people still ready to swallow the climax in which a man who got 3 or four stabs stand on foots to avenge? Mmmm? North getting close to Colliwood..

    Comment by Ajber Rahman — January 31, 2012 @ 10:05 am

  2. The movie was a real bore…1.5/5

    Comment by Radhika — January 31, 2012 @ 10:41 am

  3. rajeev@ wat a horrible review…how can u give it 3..its one of the worst i ve seen in so many years…such a lacklustre script and horrible direction by karan malhotra..not expectd such a review from u…

    Comment by ajay rara — January 31, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

  4. Good review

    Comment by prateek — February 3, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

  5. Unbelievable…… the max. that this film can get is 2.5 ★….. it was way too slower in pace, Kancha hardly got enough screen space, Priyanka’s acting was hell annoying and the movie was a real bore. I will give it just 2 ★.

    Comment by Jay Jani — February 3, 2012 @ 11:45 pm

  6. disaster movie(though with good acting)…too cliched…there are still some guys who haven’t yet got bored of the bolly-masala- revenge,death sequence, item number, parallel-song to a crucial scene..that too for whole 3 hours..!! ..rajeev this review is quite not your best…sorry..

    Comment by gaurav mishra — February 4, 2012 @ 12:19 am

  7. Tottaly agree with your review.. Sanjay Dutt was a revelation so was Rishi Kapoor.. Its more of a tribute than a remake… Paisa Wasool…

    Comment by Sajin Anand — February 4, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

  8. Rajeev,

    For your standards, giving 3-stars for this movie is blasphemy. This looks like a paid review! The movie is a real bore, I cant understand how some people are liking it. These revenge flicks don’t work anymore!

    Comment by thyag — February 5, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

  9. If anyone really want to see what this movie is all about, watch it in a small time single theater.
    You will get deaf by the noise & applaud Sanjay Dutt & Hritik recieve on their entry & action sequences.

    After Dabang the only movie having typical bollywood style presentation, which is liked by typical bollywood fan like me, that too with compelling performances & screenplay.

    Good job by the 1st time director.

    Comment by Nishant Aggarwa — February 6, 2012 @ 1:39 am

  10. Three Stars !!! are you joking ? This movie is exhaustively boring . I would have given 1 star only .

    Comment by Ekrajj — February 8, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

  11. Itni bogus movie hai yeh so is the review. What critics in india have formed an association like Hollywood Foreign Press ? Please do not say yes movie tak toh thik tha ab kya unke jaisa buisness model bhi copy karogay ? ? ?

    Rajeev Masand Man have you joined their Club ?

    It’s not cool man !!

    Comment by sunny — February 10, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

  12. The script is just too sloppy for any decent rating.

    Comment by Anvita — February 11, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  13. Cant believe you gave 3 stars !!! If this movie is 3 stars then Don2 deserved 4 not 2. Agneepath has so many unrealistic factors with so many Bloopers, for example, How can a black eyed boys growing and having
    Green eyes???

    Comment by Dev — February 12, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

  14. Loose acting and mindless plot claimed the remake by otherwise seemingly talented director.

    And not to forget, Hrithik Roshan turns Agneepath laughingly into Agneepaaath.

    Comment by Mayank — February 13, 2012 @ 2:29 am

  15. wat a joke..the film was terrible.besides the song chikni chameli the music was disgusting i didnt even remember any of the song of the film excluding chameli..

    how can a man can get up in an dying stage…??

    and also he is so much powerful that he can hang mr kancha…with a single hand..??

    just a fuss…unrealistic movie..

    Comment by siddharth — February 16, 2012 @ 11:22 am

  16. Actors acting skills:-

    When we watched the first trailer most of them thought that Sujay Dutt was going to rock on the screen. Yes he performed well but the main sole of the movie was Hrithik Roshan’s acting its really great.
    In every variation when “Vijay” entering on to the screen, playing game plays(in Pathan dress he did well), when “vijay” first meet with “kancha”, when Kancha hugged Vijay then the Hrithik acting skills touched the sky, when Vijay gifted cake to sister & first he meet with his sister, when he drunk up and feeling hangover seen, in front of the “om puri”, in Ganapati utsav, when Vijay telling his full name, when Vijay chanting “Agneepath” poem & in all fighting scenes Hrithik Performance was too Great.
    Mr. Rishi kapoor also did well. Sanjay Dutts negative role was very lively, after “Amrish puri” Sunjay dutt who created fear to the audiences with his look and action. Deven Bhojani (Azhar Lala, young mentally challenged son of Rauf Lala) performance was very Beautiful, I never seen this type of powerful action before in the role of mentally challenged person Deven Bhojani action was extraordinary.

    If a Good song sung by a great singer presenter also should be equal to that stage. In Agneepath “Shah Ka Rutba” sung by great singers Sukhwinder sing & Anand raj annd and the Lyrics also so powerful, but the presenter on the screen were not able to carry the weightage of that song. The presenting actors not have the power to present that power full song. With reference to the “Jodha akbar’s” “Gareeb navaaz(Khwaja Mere Khwaja)” song the screen performer suites to that song and he also performed very well. In Agneepath “Shah Ka Rutba” song Mr. Rishi kapoor gave some breath with his typical Navabi dancing style. I am so depressed with the song presentation on the screen, Sukhwinder sing & other great singers should not give their powerful voice for these types of low value screen presentations. If Sukhwinder sing himself acted on the screen for this song that would be superb & it’s going to a great pulse point for the song & also for the movie.
    Another song “Deva Shree Ganesha” was got hit with the Hrithik performance, even though the singer voice & the lyricist lyrics on the entire song we enjoyed the Hrithik acting & his walking style and also his live singing performance were great.
    Again in “Gun Gun Guna” & “Abhi Mujh Main Kahin” in both songs Hrithink Hangover & sentimental performance ruled over all the other elements.

    Frankly myself I expected some development story on the old Agneepath but it’s somewhat same & also cut shorten story of the old Agneepath. On 2 hours 40 mints film, First 40 minutes film was on the little boy it’s too lengthy flash back that is the reason in the second half all the 3songs came one after one and also the climax ended on the screen very sudden without any punches that’s the reason climax was little bit boring & fast and also it damaged the Hrithik performance stands I didn’t find great performance in the climax. Last one hour screenplay was not good & the story drives also.
    Finally the story make-up & screenplay both are not good.

    Back ground score means for a normal viewer sounds in the theater were good according to the leading roll, negative & other rolls entry, fights, songs & other sounds are ok. Big money holders made the film they obviously spent good money on settings (ART) according to the money they spent well.
    Finally it didn’t reach the expectations; But But But But Hrithink Roshan’s performance garbed the viewers. Hrithik’s acting skill & performances are shining & developing day by day, truly Hrithik is a great actor and his films also going to be great films.

    Comment by Ramnarayan — February 18, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

  17. Hi Rajeev,

    Your review is completely biased. This movie was utter nonsense.

    This is the first time I came across your website. It has a lot of reviews but this one really sucks.

    You’ve made movie reviewing commercial.

    Comment by Shivram — March 13, 2012 @ 11:47 am


    Comment by steve — June 8, 2012 @ 4:41 pm


    Comment by steve — June 8, 2012 @ 4:45 pm


    Comment by steve — June 8, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  21. 3 i think is ok mainly because of the acting by 2 people, Hrithik and Rishi Kapoor. It was nice to see Hrithik as the angry young man once portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan. He lends a refreshingly different touch to the character of Vijay Chauhan, totally different than Amitabh’s but powerful nonetheless. You can’t really compare the two portrayals because that would do injustice since the other elements of the film which have been adjusted to modern times. Sanjay Dutt i felt was quite bad; his presence invoked disgust rather than fear. With his shaved eyebrows, bulging biceps and bald head, Kancha looks like an oversized demon than a crime lord. I feel Danny Denzongpa’s stylish performance could be placed atop Mt Olypmus and Kancha’s merely on mortal Earth if not in the hellish depths of the Underworld. Priyanka Chopra was, well, simply there. All praise to Rishi Kapoor for giving us a performance we’ve seen before but never the character. In some scenes, he was far far better than even Hrithik but that will be like comparison old and older wine; both are good but the latter is bound to be better because of experience. Overall, quite violent and loud as @Rajeev Masand pointed out but enjoyable as well.

    Comment by Praveen — June 20, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

  22. this was a great movie i enjoyed like hell…this kind if action movies must be made….in love wid this movie

    Comment by hari k — October 25, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

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