Saturday, September 07, 2013


Plain Awful! 

There are enough recent examples to show that cult films should be left alone. But there will always be foolhardy directors around, who think they can better a work that film buffs remember with fondness. 

Prakash Mehra’s 1973 film had a Salim-Javed script that had given a fresh touch to what was even then a formulaic revenge plot—their well-developed characters, crackling dialogue and dare one say, a dash of the poetic to the unlikely romance between a troubled cop and a streetsmart chaku-chhuri sharpener.

Apoorva Lakhia’s calamitous remake retains the names of the main characters and some memorable sequences are rehashed,  but where he attempts his own think, he makes an unholy mess.  This Zanjeer owes more to the loud Southern actioners that inspired films like Dabangg and Rowdy Rathore—all nuance flattened, all genuine emotions jettisoned.

This Zanjeer has unforgivably awful opening and closing credits with skimpily dressed girls gyrating, and whenever the villain appears with his moll, some crass sexual innuendo follows.

If Lakhia had respectfully copied Mehra’s film as it was, frame to frame, it probably would have been preferable to this—and even then, a stone-faced hero (Ram Charan) with a a puff in his hair is nobody idea of a man tortured by nightmares of his parents’ killing, and Priyanka Chopra as the giggly Gujarati NRI is unmitigated disaster.

Inspector Vijay Khanna, who smashes into criminals without fear of consequences, is kicked out of his home state (Andhra) to Mumbai, where he runs into the oil mafia (they keep saying mafias), led by Teja (Prakash Raj in a wardrobe worse than his performance).  On the way, he befriends Sher Khan (Sanjay Dutt) and plays video games with him (really, now!)

Atul Kulkarni has the thankless part of an investigative journalist almost always seen with a wide-eyed assistant and a ‘Eureka’ expression. His murder in the film, and the burning alive of a collector investigating the oil mafia, are inspired by real incidents, but done very clumsily.

How can any director, with the old Zanjeer as his template, ruin even iconic scenes like the Vijay-Sher Khan confrontation in the police station and the fist fight in the street.  Why on earth are Vijay’s idiot sidekicks called Amar-Prem?  Why did Lakhia reduce Ajit’s Teja to a clown? Why is Mona Darling (Mahie Gill) so unappealing? A glimpse of the original Zanjeer being watched by Teja and Mona on the television has more zing that this whole film put together.  Why, even the music is not a patch on the original Kalyanji-Anandji soundtrack.

The next time any filmmaker thinks of a remake, they must watch RGV Ki Aag and Apoorva Lakhia ki Zanjeer, and halt right in their tracks.


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