Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Mohanlal, Ajay Devgan, Prashant Raj, Sushmita Sen, Nisha Kothari, Rajpal Yadav, Sushant Singh
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Ram Gopal Varma has always been known for doing things differently from most people. When he decided to remake (or inspiration as he likes to call it) the all-time classic, Sholay, people thought he had officially gone mad. There are things different in his version of the film from the original, but the main plot is still the same. Now that the film has finally released, does RGV get it right or was this yet another idea that went wrong? Well to put it bluntly, people may have been right when they thought RGV went mad when he announced this film. Watching the film, you wonder what he did to one of the all-time great films in Hindi cinema. Yes, we wanted him to be different and not give us an exact remake, but this is not what we had in mind. This is pretty much still a copy of Sholay, with a different location, different character names, and slight adjustments in the proceedings of the film. You were hoping for, at least, a decent action flick, but what you end up getting is a muddled mess! Although people were ready to crucify this movie from day one, with a premise like Sholay being interpreted by RGV, the prospects were still somewhat promising. But nothing is farther from the truth, as what RGV Ki Aag ends up being is one of the biggest disappointments of the year!
Sholay was a masterpiece film, and when you see something like RGV Ki Aag, it pains you to see it trying to tarnish the legacy of that great film. There have been other remakes that did not live up to its original (it is very difficult to do so), but this one takes the cake as the biggest failure. That may be because Sholay just might be the hardest film to remake since it’s the biggest blockbuster in Hindi cinema history. But that may also be because the film just isn’t any good. Looking at the movie on it’s own, without knowing it is a remake of Sholay, it still is a very disappointing film. My problem with the movie is not that it didn’t live up to Sholay because it would be unrealistic to think it would and that is why I don’t compare the two films. The main problem is the film is just bad, plain and simple, any way you look at it. The whole time, it seems as if you’re watching a B-grade 80s action flick. It is hard to believe this film was made in 2007 because it surely doesn’t look like it was. The film is also very long, nearing the three hour mark. This could have easily been fixed by not putting as much emphasis on unnecessary subplots like the romances, which leave no impact at all and only drag the film. They may have worked in the original, but in this film, these subplots have been very poorly written. Even the main story of the cop chasing a dreaded goon isn’t that convincing, mainly because the subplots, at times, take over and put the main plot to the backseat. The writers of the film seem just as clueless as the audience may look after watching this film. If they had decided to keep this an exact remake of Sholay with all the memorable dialogues, then it may actually have been a good thing since it would have stayed true to the tale. But what we instead get is a Sholay-wannabe, which leaves you with nothing memorable or classic.
Ram Gopal Varma has always preached that Sholay is his all-time favorite film and he owes his career to Ramesh Sippy, the director of the original. That is why he made this film as a tribute to Mr. Sippy for helping him build a career. Well if I was Ramesh Sippy, I would be insulted with a tribute like this. Ramu is known to be one of the finest directors in India, but this is a far cry from all the great work he has done in the past. There were some well executed sequences in the film, basically most of the sequences which include Amitabh Bachchan. But, overall, it seems as if Ramu was sleepwalking while he directed this film. He has made gangster films in the past with much gusto, but this time around his film does not hit you hard. The fact that it is RGV making a gangster film makes the film all the more disappointing, as you expect the best from him in this genre. You can see from the product that there was no passion into making this film. What was RGV honestly thinking when he decided to make this film? Better question is, was he thinking at all, in general? It is a shame to see such a fine director fall so flat on his face. The one thing that is for sure is the man is never short on work, as his next film releases next week, so hopefully he can bounce back very soon.
As mentioned before, the dialogues are different from the original, so don’t expect any of the famous dialogues that were immortalized in Sholay. The dialogues for this film are okay, as you don’t really carry any of them home with you. Maybe Mr. Bachchan was given some good dialogues, but even those won’t be quoted like the ones you hear in the original. The cinematography of the film is decent, as it is a well-shot film. It stays consistent throughout the film. The action in the film is also not all that great, unfortunately. There are some good sequences involving Babban, especially the whole cutting the Inspector’s fingers deal. But, what totally brings down the credibility of the action is the climax. There is no dramatic action in the climax whatsoever, a huge hindrance to the film. For a vicious and evil villain like Babban Singh, there needed to be one final great clash to decide the finish. But what we get is a damp squib, as the whole thing ends as you bat an eyelid. The fact that we did not get a great face-off at the end was one of the bigger disappointments of the film.
The music of the film is average at best. The only track that registers an impact is ‘Mehbooba’, and that is because of the presence of Urmila Matondkar. The song is picturized well on her and she looks very sexy. But Abhishek Bachchan’s appearance in the song is quite random. The other songs either suffers from bad picturization (Ajay-Nisha getting down and dirty looks very odd) or just aren’t good tunes. The background music is pretty good and gets nostalgic at times as they put memorable music from the original.
Amitabh Bachchan is fantastic as the menacing Babban Singh. His performance mainly works because he puts his own twist to the character and does not resemble Amjad Khan’s Gabbar Singh one bit. His expressions, dialogue delivery, and the way he presents himself are all topnotch. But even Big B cannot salvage this film with his great performance because there are way too many negatives in the film. The one thing that was left for him to play in his illustrious career was the big, bad, ruthless villain. Now that he finally has, it is safe to say he has played it finely. One wishes Big B would have saved a performance like this for a film that is worthy of it. Even though he gets a lot of footage, you still want him to have even more because when he is on screen, that is the only time this enterprise is watchable. Big B brings a new villain to Bollywood in the form on Babban Singh. He may not be the baddest of all time, but he is still a pretty mean, freaky, and psychotic dude.
Mohanlal is wonderful as the Inspector. Before the film released, he was the only one who looked as if he fitted the part he was playing. Just as expected Mohanlal delivers the goods yet again. We need to see more of him in Bollywood because he is too great of a talent.
Ajay Devgan is totally miscast playing Dharmendra’s Veeru, known as Heero over here. He does not look the character, as he has never been known for playing light characters. He would have been better suited playing Jai’s role. But he is still able to manage a decent effort, as it is rare that Ajay doesn’t bring the goods to work. One just knows there is more inside Ajay than there was displayed in this film.
Prashant Raj makes an able debut and does not do too bad for a newcomer. The problem is his jodi with Ajay is not displayed well like Dharmendra and Amitabh’s was in the original.
Sushmita underplays her character and gives a solid performance, especially because she doesn’t have many dialogues to deliver. But pairing her up with a newcomer like Prashant just seems very odd.
Nisha Kothari doesn’t fail to annoy as always. Hema Malini should be ashamed that her wonderful portrayal in the original has been turned into whatever it was Nisha made it into. Also, her chemistry with Ajay is non-existent and they make a horrible pair.
Rajpal Yadav is only there for about 5 minutes in the entire film, and that too in the beginning, and he gets on your nerves the entire time he is on screen. Truly, this is a first as he is usually the scene-stealer in most films. This is the first, and hopefully the last, time Rajpal gives a very bad performance.
Sushant Singh does a commendable job as Babban’s right hand man. He meshes very well with Mr. Bachchan.
Overall, RGV Ki Aag is one of the biggest disappointments of the year, if not the biggest. I am still shell shocked after watching the film. The only thing you take home with you is Amitabh Bachchan’s performance and Urmila Matondkar in all her glory. That’s about all the film has going for it. Other than that, I am still trying to figure out if RGV was thinking when he decided to make this film. RGV Ki Aag is the perfect example of a massacre of a classic. RGV played with aag and ended up burning himself. Let’s get the man a fire extinguisher please, so he doesn’t make the same mistake again.