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

December 1, 2011

Review: RGV Ki Aag is RGV ka daag

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajeev @ 5:00 am

  Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, Sushmita Sen

Direction: Ramgopal Varma

Writing out a review for Ramgopal Varma Ki Aag amounts to dignifying this third-rate film with a studied observation on its plot, its characters and its treatment. And believe me, that’s more thought and effort than the film’s director has put into it.

I can’t come up with appropriate enough words to describe the horror I felt sitting in that cinema watching Ramgopal Varma Ki Aag, the director’s half-hearted attempt to pay tribute to that classic Bollywood western, Sholay.

The biggest problem with Varma’s remake is that he doesn’t even try to make a credible film. It’s evident in every single frame of this movie that Varma’s heart is just not in it.

What you see on screen is a bad joke at best, a gimmick on the part of the filmmaker, and it pains you to see what little regard he actually shows for a film he claims he’s been a fan of all his life.

In my job as a film critic I’ve seen several bad films over the years, but I can’t remember one that’s been as much of a torture to sit through as this one. Consider yourself very brave if you’re able to survive the entire film, because it tests your patience like few films have before.

Varma may borrow his plot and characters from the original film, but his version is trite and hollow and doesn’t have any of the spirit and energy of Sholay.

Ramgopal Varma Ki Aag is actually a mockery of that timeless gem because it turns out to be everything that the original film was not – way-over-the-top, too-long-too-boring, and entirely mindless.

Much-loved moments from Sholay are parodied by Varma and for that you want to wring his neck. One of the most memorable scenes in Sholay in which Dharmendra as Veeru climbs up the watertank and threatens to jump down to his death is turned around in this film with Ajay Devgan playing Hero, pulling a pistol to his head threatening to shoot himself. How you wish he’d pulled the trigger and spared us all the agony.

Not only does Ramgopal Varma Ki Aag fail as a remake of Sholay, it’s a pretty bad effort even as a stand-alone film.

The eardrum-damaging background score sounds more like someone clanging vessels in the kitchen, and the camerawork alternates between dramatic and head-spinning.

Partners in this terrible crime of bringing this ridiculous film to screen are the film’s mostly dead-as-wood actors.

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Sushmita Sen as Devi the widow takes both her role and the film too seriously, punctuating her lines with pauses, staring into camera for effect, and generally performing like her life depends upon it.

Mohanlal as Narsimha, struggles with his Hindi dialogue and looks embarrassed to be delivering some of the stupidest lines in his illustrious career.

Newcomer Prashant Raj playing Jai-equivalent Raj has no acting chops to speak of and can’t strum up any of the brooding intensity Amitabh Bachchan brought to the part in the original film.

As Hero, the new-age Veeru, Ajay Devgan is entirely hopeless, failing miserably in his attempts at comedy.

But the film’s weakest link, easily the most shocking casting decision is Nisha Kothari as Ghunghroo, who steps into the shoes of Hema Malini as Basanti, the endearing airhead from Sholay. Nisha Kothari is not only the worst actress in this country, but possibly the worst actress in this whole wide world, she gives the word annoying a whole new meaning, and she makes you want to slit your wrists every time she’s on screen.

And then, there is Amitabh Bachchan playing Babban Singh, Ramgopal Varma’s version of Hindi cinema’s most popular villain Gabbar Singh. The only actor in this ensemble who recognises the film’s over-the-top tone and plays along accordingly, Bachchan constructs a menacing character who is a treat to watch. He’s meant to be a comic book villain who snarls and sneers and hisses and hams, and he does all of that to good effect.

But because he’s trapped in such a doomed enterprise, his performance doesn’t really help elevate the film in any way.

No surprises here, I’m going with zero out of five and two thumbs down for Ramgopal Varma Ki Aag, it one’s of those painful movie-watching experiences you wouldn’t subject even an enemy to.

It’s not like Varma hasn’t handled a remake before. With Sarkar he gave us a smart, gripping take on The Godfather, and it’s a pity he’s made this Sholay bhature out of such a much-loved classic.

Ramgopal Varma Ki Aag is his worst career decision ever, it’s also a dark spot on his resume he’ll be embarrassed of forever. I suspect this film will go down in movie history as Ramgopal Varma Ka Daag.

Rating: 0 / 5 (Such Trash!)

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