Speculations were ripe about the Angry Young Man rising once again. And well, he did rise, only to be a doom to the tag of a magnificent title of an Angry Young Man.
Born as Inquilab Shrivastava in Allahabad, this tall, young, handsome man came to the city of dreams to test his destiny. Making a mark on 70 mm was his dream. He fulfilled it, alright but didn’t deserve what he had set out to achieve. It was then that fate changed for him and he donned the skin of Inspector Vijay Khanna in Prakash Mehra’s directorial venture Zanjeer (1973). This was the start of a long-lasting friendship. Not only the director-actor pair became famous but the onscreen couple, Jaya Bhaduri and Amitabh Bachchan tied the nuptial knot. Furthermore, the film had ‘Pran’ in it in the real sense of the word. The actor, Pran, made the role of Sher Khan immortal and Vijay Khanna soon came to be known as the Angry Young Man of Bollywood. Not just the film, but its dialogues and songs too, have a status quo even today.
When Apoorva Lakhia, in an attempt to break this record took up the challenge to remake this epic film, he risked his career literally. Having established himself with a film like Shootout at Lokhandwala, this film is likely to dwindle his position as a filmmaker. With all the controversies surrounding the film pre-release, a layman would have thoroughly thought it to be a good remake if not the best. However, the bubble bursts as soon as the film starts.
Opening with a title track with grease-stained, half-naked girls is a major turn off. This is followed by ACP Vijay Khanna’s (Ram Charan) entry, the state is Andhra Pradesh and you can see the posters of Ram Charan’s revered father-turned-politician, Chiranjeevi. As soon as Ram Charan opens his mouth to deliver his first dialogue you know that his voice is dubbed. After fighting the ministers of the state when Vijay Khanna is transferred to Mumbai, the story actually takes off.
Copy-pasting from its predecessor, this film has only a few edits made in the storyline. Altered to suit the present generation, the film is a mess if compared to the original. Here, you have Mala (Priyanka Chopra) who is an NRI flown down to India from New York to attend a Facebook friend’s wedding but becomes a key witness in a murder case. The character of Mala who was a simple chaku-churi tez karanewali has now become an NRI, good for nothing, blonde, Gujarati girl who is “Daddy’s Li’l Angel”. Too loud and grouchy to suit the stature of an actress like Priyanka, unfortunately. Then you have Sher Khan (Sanjay Dutt), a criminal-turned-business man who is honest even when doing dishonest jobs. However, a chord strikes and you see Vijay and Sher Khan shaking a leg together, in the film’s qawwali song. Ajit, who made the character of Teja immortal, finds the sophisticated stance trapped in a psychotic and indulgent mafia king Rudra Pratap Teja (Prakash Raj). Raj does well with the role as his acting brings back the memories of Gani bhai (Wanted). Added to the narrative is the character of Jay Dev (Atul Kulkarni), an honest journalist “who writes what is right”. The story is therefore basically the good against the bad. On one side you have Vijay, Sher Khan, Mala and Jay Dev while the other side has Teja. Teja’s love interest Mona Darling too has reincarnated with this film, however, she is a raunchy, sultry seductress who is after two things, one is to shed some body fat and second is to seduce her man to bed.
Coming to the storyline, well it is just the same except that this time the story revolves around the nexus of oil mafia rather than smuggling in particular and the chain/ Zanjeer in Teja’s wrist is replaced by a tattoo. Be it the nightmare or the scene when Sher Khan meets Inspector Vijay Khanna for the first time at the Police Station, has been picked up frame-by-frame from the older Zanjeer. There hasn’t been a slightest change in dialogues either. You see a dubbed voice Ram Charan squeaking, “Jab tak baithne ko naa kaha jaye, seedhi tarah khade raho”. So much for Mr. Bachchan’s famous baritone voice. The dialogues are funny and are sure to make you laugh, be it the female lead chirping “All morning eating apples I am going bananas” or Teja’s “Meow”. The music isn’t of any essence to the film, three item songs, one love-making song and one attempt at qawwali is an epic fail. The initial background score of “Raghupati Raghav Rajaram” is not heard in the second-half. The love story between the two leads suddenly springs up after they have lived together for a day or two. Also the film shows much usage of stock footage, loud action sequences, has close-ups taken of roasted chicken and qurma and too many blasts.
The remake is a catastrophe and the film connoisseurs (especially Amitabh Bachchan’s ardent fans) will definitely like to watch Zanjeer (1973) over Zanjeer (2013).