The original Agneepath', released in 1990, was a well crafted, dark, brute tale of revenge, fueled by a commanding, stylish and national award (highest acting decoration in India) winning performance by the Bollywood acting legend Mr. Amithabh Bachchan. The movie was ahead of it's time and has over the years acquired a cult status. Slick direction, gripping dialogues and brilliant, well conceived screenplay made it an iconic film in Indian Cinema.
The movie is set in the small, fictional village of 'Mandva', a small island located near Mumbai. Underworld kingpin 'Kancha Cheena' to acquire and establish stronghold on Mandva's land for it's opium, with help from his goons and the police, gets the protagonist's father killed. The protagonist (Amitabh Bachchan as Vijay Deenanath Chauhan) flees from the village with his mother and his small sister, consumed with vehemence and rage, swearing revenge on his father's killers, and hellbent to reclaim his land, his soil.
Vijay follows the dark path (Agneepath - the path of fire, much to the disdain of his mother & her ideals of 'An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind'). We witness the birth of Vijay Deenanath Chauhan as the czar of the mumbai underworld, his devastating past remaining a mystery to the entire racket he deals with, mostly all of whom who were involved in killing his father and accessorizing in kancha claiming Mandva.
As the story develops, he exacts revenge on all of them, one by one, to reach Kancha eventually, and so he does, but not revealing his exact intention, but only intending to deal with him. Eventually, his intentions are revealed, leading to an epic confrontation between him and kancha on the soils of Mandva.
Amitabh Bachchan, Rohini Hatangade (Another National Award Winner, as Vijay's mother), Mithun Chakrobaty (Yet another national award winner for the same movie, as Vijay's protector/bodyguard) all portrayed their characters with immense originality and passion, making the movie a memorable and gripping movie experience.
The 2012 remake, is in view of the producers, a homage to the original. But some things are better left untouched, especially classics as these, which are just impossible to duplicate or reincarnate. The remake is set in the slums of mumbai, with the central character (Hrithik Roshan) growing up in the slums and becoming Vijay Chauhan (The setting was probably intentional, to help the style vary from the original, but it just doesn't work for me). The original, in contrast, leave for the beginning set in the village of Mandva, was a modern thriller, where the protagonist donned oldboy-style white suits and drove a contessa; who arrived in Mauritius to meet the villain in his yacht, to the tunes of 'yeke yeke' by mory kante playing in the background; who swam out of the pure blue ocean (after his yacht explodes) still all suited, drenched and pulling it off like a man; whose blood stained white suits were significant of his clean, yet stained persona. It was a memorable, towering character, raw yet sophisticated, angry yet composed. It was a movie which captured the essence of revenge pure, something which you could feel in the protagonist's wrath, pain and despair, his persistent appetite for revenge. The remake, to be brief, just fails to accomplish all that.
Emotions are contained and action is limited to mindless, excessive violence really, which overpowers the story and characters. One exception however, in the entire movie and it's attempt to recreate the original, is Rishi Kapoor, who plays Rauf Lala, the surma wearing, pathani donning mafia with such savagery and barbarity, he overwhelms Sanjay Dutt's role as the villain Kancha Cheena. Violence is essential in portraying the underbelly of the Mumbai, it's drug cartels and syndicates, rampant in the 80s and 90s era, and it's use is understandable, but the original was not all about that. It was much more, about character development, depth in story, and an anatomy of revenge.
The remake might have entertained the masses and have accumulated exceptional box office returns, but I am absolutely disappointed, and fail to understand why more effort was not put in recreating such a masterpiece. Nothing compares, and shall ever compare, to the raw and pure, sophisticated revenge tale of the original character, portrayed so intricately by Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. He is the original Vijay Deenanath Chauhan.