Long long time before Bhiku Mhatre said Mumbai ka Don kaun in Satya and Malik from Company played dirty games to ‘dhanda hai par ganda hai’, there was a man called Vijay Dinanath Chauhan(VDC), who ruled Bombay. But for him ruling Bombay was not important, his sights, vision & energies were occupied to one small village called Mandwa. I don’t know if it even exists but his energies were channelized to conquer that place for a promise that he had given to his mother and thereby starts a fascinating crime and relationship journey into the minds of characters in this movie.
When Hindi movies were making a transition from the rotten eighties to the early nineties; even Amitabh Bachchan(AB) had a torrid time with disasters like Toofan, Jaadugar & Ganga Jamuna Saraswati. The only glimpse of hope for fans was AB initiating an actor-director combo with Mukul S. Anand.
I had a special regard and liking for Mukul Anand only because of one film called Insaaf, which leaves for a detailed post some other day, but it was the first time AB came out of his comfort zone to act with a director who was hailed as a whiz kid in those times (Sanjay Gupta had this tag from media in initial days & has failed spectacularly till now).
The major intention of writing this post about Agneepath came when I saw the first trailer of the remade version. Even though I am no seasoned blogger or a film critic I had to write this as a fan boy from my growing years where I always admired movies and an individual from an era who experienced Agneepath in its glamour awesomeness.
Going ahead I will mention some scenes and analyse all memorable characters from the movie along with VDC’s relation and love/hate affair on screen with them. It is more than a possibility of VDC in being in all those scenes as that’s the beauty & glory of this cult masterpiece. Dharma Productions will do more than good if the emotional core is maintained and all characters are half decent as its original, though it seems a tough ask.
Young Vijay Dinanath Chauhan(Master Manjunath): Hindi cinema is galore with irritating child artists and only a handful few films show them in a convincing manner. But VDC was no ordinary child and when an elder protagonist of the same character is so explosive, the child artist should match up to it. Master Manjunath is as much responsible for making VDC who he is right from its inception and there are two scenes of absolute determined intensity which says it all.
(a) When young VDC carries the body of his father on a cart with Kancha Cheena’s car passing by to splash the dirt on his face followed by an oath while leave Mandwa, “Nahin…main yeh gaon kabhi nahi bhoolunga…..Ek din yeh gaon maa ko zarur doonga.” And
(b) After burning a petrol pump of Kancha Cheena showing a glimpse of a huge transformation in morals as a young VDC while in interrogation with Inspector Gaitonde, he breathes fire to lines “Aur woh kya tha jo mere Maa ke saath hua tha, woh jurm nahi tha….Report karne ka tha…kiya…woh bhi kiya maine…par kya kiya tum logo ne…kuch nahi…is liye main kiya…JALA DALA…JALA DALA petrol pump ko” to AB right across in your face after that, you know a legendary character is born.
Commisioner Gaitonde(Vikram Gokhale): VDC probably remains one of the rare screen acts where he shares a love-hate relationship with most characters around and Commisoner Gaitonde is one of them. Vikram Gokhale played it with controlled restraint and remains one of better characters though even now Hindi cinema has not utilised his potential fully. There are many scenes where they confront each other but the most memorable has to be:
Where VDC goes to Gaitonde’s house to brief him about an impending danger with the dialogues followed, which are very relevant the most even now.
“Kehne ko yeh sheher hai…Sirf kehne ko..Par idhar jungle ka kanoon chalta hai maloom..Cheenti ko Bisturiya kha jaata hai..Bisturiya ko mendak..Mendak ko saanp nigal jaata hai..Nevla saanp ko maarta hai..Bhediya nevle ka khoon chus leta hai..Sher bhediye ko chaba jata hai..Idhar har taqatwar apne se kam ko maarkar jeeta hai”, an edgy scene with remarkable dialogue delivery.
Terylene(Sharat Saxena)/Usman(Avtar Gill)/Anna Shetty(Deepak Shirke)/ Hasmukh: These are the men who take VDC under their wings from an early age and have some substantial influence on his character but as VDC backs out for further business expansion with drugs and asks for the top seat, they gun for his life and are reminded of one of the earlier take on him by Anna Shetty,”Dekho…Socho…Yeh ladka ek chingari hai…Kal bada bankar sabko zinda jala diya toh kya karenge.” Moments of pure adrenaline and tense culminate whenever they confront which include scenes where:
(a) VDC goes to meet his ex boses, there is a hush silence in room as he enters with all the telephones ringing frantically and the ensuing scene that follows later.
(b) “Vijay Chauhan ka behen ko uthakar le gaya..uthakar le gaya..” Mukul Anand takes heroism to another level when VDC runs through a claustrophobic hutment locale replete with mucky and muddy surrounding to enter the area where Anna Shetty has abducted his sister. It is an epic action scene in true sense which is a zenith of achievement in gangster films.
Nathu Kaka(Tinnu Anand) & Dinkar Rao(Goga Kapoor): The good & bad side of Mandwa, as both characters are situated there. Tinnu Anand as a foul mouthed drunkard and a supporter of VDC, delivers a loud and perfect performance while Goga Kapoor being one of the past nemesis gets his moment of glory when VDC says “Hawa tez chalta hai Dinkar Rao..Topi sambhalo..Udd jayega”
Krishnan Iyyer M.A(Mithun Chakraborty): The only positive male character apart from Master Dinanath Chauhan(Alok Nath) & Commissioner Gaitonde, Krishnan Iyyer is a Nariyal Paaniwala playing a good soul who saves VDC from the brink of death during an encounter with his bosses. Earning immense respect from VDC and his mother, Krishnan Iyyer is promoted as a bodyguard to his sister Shiksha(Neelam).
Playing a South Indian with immaculate precision, Mithun is a delight to watch and brings in much needed warmth and light moments for this power packed vendetta film. The remake does not feature him and seems a smart move by the makers for it is too huge a shoe to fill without being ridiculed.
Suhasini Chauhan(Rohini Hattangady): Rarely has Indian Cinema depicted a mother-son relationship with so much volatility and high tension where every dialogue is dipped in acid to create a blood boiling effect. Agneepath remains one of the rare films where a mother-son relation is complex without any sugar coated moments as has been the history of Hindi cinema. Rohini Hattangady in which is her best role till date gives a knockout performance matching AB in every scene. ‘Maa k haath ka bana hua gaajar ka halwa’ was replaced with striking effect in ‘Apne haath dho le Vijay’; as VDC is invited home after his health recuperates from the attack leading to heavy discomfort. The climax where she says ‘Mera beta Gunda nahi hai’ can choke you for its poignancy.
Kaancha Cheena(Danny Dengzongpa): “Kaanch ke mahal mein rehne wala Kaancha Seth”. How often do you find an antagonist who is as powerful as the protagonist when it comes to clash of the titans? Kancha Cheena is a fitting persona laced with style and an aura to match up with VDC and they both scorch the scene whenever confronted which takes approximately 77 mins for the first duel, but the kind of scene that ensues is unparalleled in cinematic history. One of the most iconic villains of Indian cinema Danny played the role to such perfection that it seems impossible to visualise anybody here. Seems the new version has purposefully opted a gimmicky approach in giving Sanjay Dutt a giant presence and it will be interesting how he enacts.
Vijay Dinanath Chauhan as Amitabh Bachchan: What can one say about such a legendary character which has not been said, discussed and emulated before. AB celebrates this role and was born to play it with so much of pain, turmoil and rage. Heroes in Hindi cinema irrespective of their background are supposed to get out of sync in some aspects but AB has the distinct advantage of playing some parts which remains true to the character; VDC being one of them. AB as the hero doesn’t dance neither he goes romantic and remains a man possessed with fury right from his entry, mouthing the now famous dialogues to the final moments and it is to his credit that we don’t mention him as a performer but VDC as a character for this particular film.
The entire walk along with his mom during the end till he breathes his last in her lap, calls for thunderous applause. Any actor could have made that scene look like a ham fest but AB demonstrates why he will remain best in the business and VDC achieving legendary status.
Apart from Mukul S.Anand if there is one person in the crew who deserves maximum applause it has to be Kader Khan. The dialogues are one of the best I have heard in Hindi Cinema and clearly a case of characters delivering it with classic effect.
The movie has some inspired source from Scarface along with its background score too, but those were minor glitches apart from Neelam & Madhavi as the sister & wife in Vijay’s life which are important characters but not well fleshed. Other supporting cast include Sudhir Pandey as a corrupt cop, Bob Christo as Gora and Archana Puran Singh being a moll to Danny who leave a mark. Even the songs composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal are just a hindrance to the proceedings with no great tunes to boast of and only Bappa Moriya being situational.
The team of Karan Malhotra & Karan Johar has a huge and mammoth task cut out when Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt, Rishi Kapoor, Zareena Wahab and Priyanka Chopra reprise roles for the new addition and only few days will decide if the path of fire that they took will be crossed or they will burn themselves in the road along.
Whatsoever maybe the fate of its new version, but the legend of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan will always be remembered and cherished in years to come for one and the only one; Amitabh Bachchan. My respect and admiration for him with a standing ovation.
Tu na thamega kabhi, tu na mudega kabhi, tu na rukega kabhi,
Kar shapath, Kar shapath, Kar shapath,
Agneepath, Agneepath, Agneepath.
Ye Mahan Drushya hain,
Chal raha Manushya hain,
Ashru, Sweth, Rakta se Latpath Latpath Latpath..
Agneepath, Agneepath, Agneepath.
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