STARRING: Hrithik Roshan, Rishi Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Priyanka Chopra, Zarina Wahab

DIRECTOR: Karan Malhotra

The hallmark of Karan Johars success has always been his ability to highlight the emotional aspect in even the most kitschiest of contexts. He may have lost it along the way ( Qurbaan, We are Family) but with alt39 Agneepathalt39 he appears to have regained that lost touch. Karan Malhotras alt39 Agneepathalt39 is not so much a tribute to Mukul Anands version as it is to the bollywood stereotype masala that used to be the staple of almost every mainstream film in the 80alt39 s and early 90alt39 s. The distinctive tropes are all there- an activist schoolbeing framed for rape by the villain and then brutally murdered, witnessed by his hapless pregnant wife and young son- who then vows to decimate the evil villain and eventually does just that in a matter of nearly three hours of intensely engaging emotional turbulence. Its predictable alright! The story is a mixture of alt39 Scarface, Eastern promises.

Dayavan and Agneepath, so its not original in any sense, neither does it have any topicality to it. In fact the main plot and the innumerable sub- plots woven around it are so decadent and unrealistic that you might well think that Karan Johar was either not keen to tell the decades old tale any differently, or maybe he just wanted to double his profit margin while keeping his expense on content creation to the absolute minimum. The build- up of injustice and crime thereafter is so gigantic, as to justify the final cathartic bout of orchestrated vanquishing of unfettered evil.

The mother ( Zarina Wahab) represents the voice of reason. Its up to that character to bring in some semblance of normalcy. By standing firm in her conviction that violence only begets violence her character marks presence for all that is good in the world. Its a feeble voice at best but it manages to stay true right to the final few minutes.

She proves that steadfastness and belief, by banishing her young fatherless son to the outskirts of her life, following his first act of uncontrolled violence- the killing of a police officer who was brutalising the woman who gave his family solace and caring in their hour of need. The mothers hour of reckoning comes when she is confronted by her sons impending death at the hands of her husbands murderer. Its a sequence that is milked for all it; s worth. She rants against the village folk- turncoats who were misled by Kanchas evil machinations and cries out in pain when she sees her son being brutalised by the blackguard but never for a moment does she acknowledge that her son was right in taking to violence.

Inspector Gaitonde( Om Puri)alt39 s is the other voice of reason. But its a voice that is far too haphazard and underdeveloped to make any impact. The chawl dwellers and eunuchs who come to Vijays aid in his fight against Rauf Lala, are also forces of good that get decimated by overwhelming power of evil. Kalis ( Priyanka Chopra) and Chamki Chamelis ( Katrina Kaif) presence is akin to that of a few whiffs of perfume in a stinking gutter of mindlessness.

Both bring muchneeded lightness, relief and romance to the violence drenched scenario.

In the original Mukul Anand version Amitabhs Vijay was anointed a messiah but in Karan Malhotras version Hrithiks Vijay is far more subtly referenced. Vijay compromises with one evil, Rauf Lala( Rishi Kapoor) , a flamboyant flesh trader, in order to get to the bigger fish, Kancha Cheema – who started off as a salt baron and then veered into drugs. The narrative in fact begins on a significant notethe repealing of the salt act.

But that significance is conveniently lost in the smorgasbord of violence that emerges thereafter.

Rauf Lala is a new addition to the plot. His presence adds strength to this crime and retribution saga.

Rishi Kapoor lends his own consummate skill to the character. Most of the dramatic moments of the original have been altered to include distinct

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