Rajeev Masand

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Sweet revenge



Rating: 3

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)

72 Responses to “Sweet revenge”

  1. Vignesh says:

    Thanks for the review Rajeev ! Was just waiting for yours to make it to the theaters..



  3. dipen says:

    loved this movie

  4. arafat says:

    just 3 out of 5 ?
    dude stop creating biased opinion

    its not less than 4 out of 5

  5. Smk says:

    Hrithik at his best in the AGNEEPATH
    all awards for hrithik and agneepath next year

  6. rhea says:

    u r absolutely right rajeev. I was expecting more from priyanka’s role:S but hritik was FAAAAAAAAAB!!! It was karan malhotra, hritik, sanjay and rishiji’s film all the way!!

  7. Ayushman says:

    Thanx sir,i’ve seen this movie and agree with u except the length factor.Some people are complaining that hrithik roshan has delivered in atypical style..what is ur opinion sir?

  8. Ashish says:

    Though i liked d movie coz of strong performances but its nowhere near the original one…It will remain my favorite …

  9. Aneesh E says:

    Thnx Rajeev, I always look for ur review before going to theater.
    Unlike other reviews a 2.5 or above from u is defintly worth watching.

  10. ram says:

    I was waiting for your review before going to watch it.
    Thanks for the review.

  11. pradeep says:

    im die hard fan of hrithik bt its nt his bst performance………. i agree wit u r review, karan needed some more thightness in his screenplay overall thumbs up to team. sanju baba over shadowed hrithik sir

  12. Anjani says:

    Was eagerly waiting for your review before heading to the theaters…

  13. kshitiz samrendra says:

    some time be honest masand ? its 4 out 5 at least . 4 player how much u have given jst recall .

  14. Rohan says:

    My review…rate **
    Will collect 70 crore in weekend(due to much hype).
    But in second week it will hardly cross 10 crorea
    overseas very poor performance

    Lifetime collection will be near 90 crore.

    It is the worst movie to watch
    Good movie continue good collection for atleast 4 weeks

  15. GV says:

    Honest review. Loved Hrithik’s acting, Sanjay and Rishi imbibed the characters well. The biggest let down for me was the script, under-developed characters… wasted many accomplished actors except the three mentioned above. Sore-point: unecessary violence against children (minor’s rape, selling of little girls – yet again another communal bashing), climax fighting with Rishi and Sanjay.. sorry felt horrible. Could have been written much better for the excellent effort put in the by the actors and the rest of the crew.

  16. Prashant Mishra says:

    Biased review. Movie does not deserves such accolades. Comparison with the great Amitabh is audacious. If many other “masala” films which have been subject to your brunt sword, this movie should also be given such treatment. A nice judge is one who remains neutral in testing situations.

  17. Mithu says:

    Awesome movie n awesome review:-). I’m total agree with you:-).

  18. Pankaj says:

    Had i read this before, i could have saved my money..! The only high points in movie are chikni chameli and the role played by Sanyay as Kancha cheena. Get some original story guys…stop making remake …..no…… stop spoiling which has already been made..!!

  19. Swati says:

    “He loses some of that sheen when he chants Sanskrit into an apocalyptic sky, yet his presence is freakishly powerful.”

    Sanskrit? which scene? do you mean the “ye re ye re pausa” sequence? That’s Marathi.

  20. abdulla says:

    totally agree with mr rajeev.
    i think apart from priyankas songs her presence was lesser than chikni chameli

  21. abdulla says:

    movie belongs to duggu n sanju

  22. Mubin says:

    Totally agree with ur review….the movie is tooooo long n the second half writing slips big time….the twist in the plot that starts with hrithik double-playing suddenly becomes less intelligent n less inspiring immediately after the interval!! But hrithik really is the one who makes this movie a good watch Kancha while very scary n menacing….didnt see much depth in his character…it was there just to make the bad guy look super bad….without the depth that hrithik brings to Vijay Chauhan

  23. Pooja says:

    masand’s three means the movie is really good,…

  24. The movie was disappointing.

  25. Ajber Rahman says:

    oh my God.. Rajeev , what happened to you? This film minus The great Rishi Kapoor is a big zero.. My goodness… the hero after getting atleast 15 punches of 1and half quintels and 4 cuts and 3 ruthless stabs with a huge knife from a giant Sanju, stand upright to avenge is simply ridiculous and shows that Bollywood movies are still haunted by the 80s… A burned house after 15 years seem to be just burned.

  26. anish says:

    thnxz i was being awaited by for ur views only…….
    nd u really hold my hope vry gr8ly thnxx again

  27. shounak says:

    This movie was truely awsome….the basic fact that the antagonist is much powerful than protagonist makes it a wonderful watch. the only thing that I can say after watching this movie is please do not compare with the old movie…its a totally different movie…

  28. shounak says:

    A difinite 5 out of 5 from me….

  29. syed fareed says:

    thanks rajeev for your comment sweet revenge on “agneepath”,your way of reviev on the films too good and attract moviegeors com to theater.

  30. Amazing performance by HRITHIK.. another feather in his excellent body of Work.. MUST WATCH!

  31. Samir says:

    its a super duper hit movie….

  32. dipika khaitan says:

    i actually didn’t remember the old agnipath except for the fact that it was one bloody movie! i am a big amitabh fan, so seeing him wounded when i was young didn’t really seem right! i actually thought the new agnipath was quite nice. i felt sanjay duty and rishi kapoor were really good playing the bad guys, tho hrithik i felt could have been exploited. he is very talented and truly gets into the skin of all characters he plays. priyanka or who ever played the role would have done just that much to the character. no rocket science playing th woman in this film. the kat song was so average! dont want to hear it again for sure!
    if not compared to the old agnipath, one could quite like the movie. esp if ur age group is <35.

  33. Gautam says:

    A Balanced Review…Rajeev was only unjust or biased in Reviewing Guzaarish.

  34. JJ says:

    u hv erased one star just because it is remake, yes new story matters but it is not director’s fault, it is a fault of market. we only eat parle-g, dont like anything else…it is best in canvas of agnipath, means great painting canvas doesnt matters.

  35. Anup Pandey says:

    well thought take, sir. almost agree.
    kindly read my full review on my blog http://thepuccacritic.blogspot.com/2012/01/agneepath.html
    Thank you

  36. kshitij says:

    best movie of 2012..5 out of 5.

  37. priya ranjan sahoo says:


  38. Sawan Chaumal says:

    Till Jan 25, 2012, i was in love with Agneepath bcoz of Mr. Amitabh Bachhan’s performance and its superb story line. And now, I am in love with the new Agneepath as well bcoz of the sheer performance of Vijay, Kancha and Rauf Lala…

    New Agneepath justifies the money and the expectations set against it. Mr. Malhotra and Mr. Johar have done justice to the remake.

    Must watch… But please do not compare with the old Agneepath. Both are awesome in their own way….

    Paisa wasool. My verdict 4 out of 5.

  39. Akashdeep says:


    I hope the author gets what I want to say! Can you please list down the last mainstream Bollywood film that you awarded 4? You are a great Hollywood critic and there are not plenty of them in India, true! You top that in say a list of 5 people! Decent achievement I would say! Well, since you have some good hits on your site and show, please raise the bar of how you comprehend Indian cinema and rightly judge a film according to what it wants to show. I ain’t critic for this film, but neither are you then!

  40. unbeaten says:

    blockbuster hit……….

    hrithik’s acting far better than amitabh………..

  41. Tanveer says:

    How can people actually watch this movie is beyond me, let alone like it…
    How can we forget the super-irritating Hijda force running with swords to the rescue of shiksha, or the boring,dumb ,out of place songs like the one with the cast of comedy circus and everybody is dancing with swords and red kerchiefs.Really?
    Sanjay Dutt’s performance was powerful you say, but i still felt I was watching Sanjay Dutt,acting weird and shouting loud and not some evil character.
    The entire storyline was bogus. It wasnt a tribute. It was a remake.Same story , same location,just different actors and a director who sadly didnt bring anything to the plate.
    Kudos for the cinematic sequences, but overall at the end what you are really left with is the “get off my back will ya?” feeling…
    Thumbs down for karan malhotra’s Agneepath.
    Please we dont want to see any more stupid movies again.
    There is a hell waiting for us to punish for our bad deeds, Do not Torture us now i am begging you

  42. sandeep says:

    saw this movie today.. really good one … u were absolutely correct about the length of this film… yet its very engaging and entertaining all the way……..

  43. akhil says:

    always searching 4 sum mistakes even wen der r none is nt a sign of a good critic…………
    get real dude……………dnt always try 2 b diff……………sumtym b real also……………its atleast 4/5………..

  44. Ana says:

    Wat was the importance of Rauf Lala in this movie?

  45. HG says:

    Nyc movie…

  46. Biman Saha says:

    A perfect review…I would rather give 2.5 for this movie…
    It is a much hyped movie…thats all
    Hirthik is good but not impressive…
    I expected lot more from this movie and little bit disappointed.

  47. Kaushik H S says:

    I always look out for your reviews sir..n again a good review to say !! off-course i did watch the movie..n totally agree with u..its a little lengthy..but yes indeed great performances by the three leads..keep reviewing sir..looking forward for more of your reviews 🙂

  48. Ankkur Shah says:

    I am a bit surprised at your lineance in rating the movie.
    The movie has been rated U/A and in the very beginning it reads’parents should make their children understand violence’ What follows after this prelude, is a three hour drill of non stop , excessive , gory violence.
    What is the function of the censor board in India , to allow some two decades old story to be retold again, in the most gruesome manner only to horrify people? I asked a little girl audience in the theater what she thought of the movie.
    Her response was that she was angry with her father to have brought to this silly saga of sadism.
    It is been proven that despite brilliant individual performances, Agneepath is super sordid antique tale of revenge,romance and ruthlessness, things we were used to seeing in the 1970s and ’80s.
    Sadly, even with stellar performances from stalwarts like Rishi Kapur, Agneepth is nothing but a sleeker version of a Ramgopal Verma creation , the only saving grace it has that Mr. Karan Johar has agreed to sign his name on it as its producer and Godfather!

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