Friday, January 27, 2012

Dear Karan,

I am told that a production of yours that released today (and getting great reviews & collections) is a remake of the 1990 film, Agneepath. The media and people of this country are making this assumption because the names of the two films are same. But then, you produced a film called Dostana a few years back that had no resemblance to the story of the 1980 film of the same name.

I haven’t seen the latest Agneepath yet (and I don’t think I will, either). But the reviews – or more importantly in today’s Bollywood – the buzz seems to be quite positive. People, especially of the female persuasion, seem to have loved Hrithik Roshan’s ‘uber hot’ screen presence. The biggest praises are, however, reserved for Sanjay Dutt (playing Kancha Cheena) and Rishi Kapoor (playing Rauf Lala, who seems to be a new character). Nobody seems to have noticed Priyanka Chopra or missed Krishnan Iyer MA yet.

Which brings me to the question I want to ask you – why the hell are you calling this film a remake? Though to be fair, it is being said that Agneepath is not a ‘remake’ but a ‘tribute’… whatever that means. In that case, I must point out what – at least, what I feel – was the crux of the original Agneepath and what needed to be paid a tribute to.

When you pay tribute to an ‘angry’ film and the biggest pre-release buzz is about an item song, then one can safely say you’ve failed.
When the tribute is to a film with some of the most accomplished ‘dialogues’ in Bollywood and not a jot of the post-release chatter is about the lines the hero speaks, then you’ve failed.
When most people end up discussing Kancha Cheena’s unholy, hairless looks after the film and they don’t remember anything about the hero except the biceps, then you’ve failed spectacularly.
In paying a tribute, that is. I am sure that the film will succeed in every other way.

Also on a different level, the real Agneepath was about a producer’s courage.
Yash Johar took an ageing leading man and an insignificant heroine to lead his film. The leading man was known for his voice but for this film, but it replaced with a rasping, new voice. The hero was said to be nearly 37 years in the old. And the hero died a bloody death at his mother’s feet when all of Bollywood was singing ‘saanson ki zaroorat hain jaise…’ and riding into the sunset.
You pay a tribute to this risk by taking on Bollywood’s most conventional leading man and the No. 2 heroine. You then take on Bollywood’s No. 1 heroine to dance to one sizzling number, for good measure. And you promote the hell out of the song, using the money you’ve saved from not having to hire a dialogue writer.  

You could’ve made exactly the same film and called it Inteqaam or some such. I think the film would have been just as successful and the old fogeys (we, 35+ year old viewers and the producer of the original) wouldn’t have felt so restless.

Wishing you great success in all your films –
Dipta

(My earlier post on Agneepath - here.)
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