Director: Karan Malhotra
Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt, Priyanka Chopra
Ram Gopal Varma, sit quietly in a corner for a bit. And watch a Karan Johar production — yes Karan Johar — make an operatic film about gangster violence. If there is a movie that explores the poetry of violence, it is this. Ye mahan drushya hain, chal raha manushya hain, ashru, sweth, rakta se lathpat lathpath lathpath. Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s poem will echo as you watch Hrithik Roshan weeping while wolfing down the dal chawal his estranged mother has made for him. It will echo as you watch the face of the actor playing the young Vijay Dinanath Chauhan when his father is hanged from a tree. It will echo as you watch transfixed when Sanjay Dutt pounds Hrithik Roshan in the climax, the punches crunching bones and snapping muscle. And it will echo when you see a loathsome Rishi Kapoor hawking the flesh of a 15-year-old girl to a bunch of grasping greedy men.
Melodramatic, choir-inducing sentiment, ecstatic. Agneepath is that rare mainstream movie that is written well. Sanjay Dutt’s Kancha Cheena speaks Sanskritised Hindi, referencing the epics. Priyanka Chopra’s Marathi lilt is a carryover from her cheerful role in Kameeney. Hrithik Roshan, well, Hrithik Roshan just burns silently, seething, waiting, plotting, planning. His gangster is the purest form of criminal because he has no motive but to restore his father’s reputation. His father who taught him to work without waiting for results, to recite poetry, how to eat, how to respect life.
The film is a metaphor for the world we live in and Mandwa, the benighted Mandwa, which sold its soul for the money it expected to come from cocaine, is what India is today. A nation perhaps which has sold its spirit for the joys of consumerism. A nation which has to sacrifice its most honest citizens because they have chosen shaitan as their malik. A nation which watches helplessly as its soul is stolen.
Like Varma’s best movies, Agneepath is about the sociology of power. Shakti ka istamal karne ke liye shakti ke paas rehna zaroori hai. As Vijay plots Kancha Cheena’s downfall, watch him first embrace Rauf Lala (an astounding Rishi Kapoor), then try to swap Kancha’s entry into Mumbai for a return to Mandwa. He is, of course, Ram to Kancha’s Ravana.
A stellar cast — great to see Om Puri back as the fine, upstanding police officer Gaitonde — terrific moody cinematography by the ultra talented Kiran Deohans and Ravi K Chandra, and dialogues that are not an assault on the language, Agneepath reinforces the viewers’ faith in Bollywood, struggling under an avalanche of southern cartoon violent movies. Watch it, weep, wallow in the brilliantly choreographed gangster opera. After a brilliantly natural performance in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Hrithik Roshan, welcome back to form. And who is Karan Malhotra? Where has Karan Johar been hiding him?Agneepath Hrithik Roshan India today Karan Johar Karan Malhotra Kaveree Bamzai Priyanka Chopra Reviews Rishi Kapoor Sanjay Dutt