Director: Apoorva Lakhia
Cast: Ram Charan, Priyanka Chopra, Sanjay Dutt and Prakash Raj
Sher Khan walks into the police station and pulls up a chair to sit. A buffed up Vijay glares at the chair and quite suddenly kicks it out of Sher Khan’s reach with all his might, baring his teeth. He then scowls quite angrily, “Yeh police station hai, tumhaare baap ka ghar nahi!”.
If the filmmakers expected applause from the audience here, all they got was awkward silence.
Every two minutes while watching Apoorva Lakhia’s Zanjeer, I would tell myself, “Power through. It’ll all be over soon.” Unfortunately, even in just about two hours, the film managed to ruin the original, make a farce out of the angry young man character, remind us that women are dispensable and give us a good solid headache.
Though Zanjeer launched Amitabh Bachchan’s angry young man phase, it wasn’t exactly the best film in this genre. Yet, the strength to all of his films from this phase lay in the writing. All credit to Salim-Javed, the script-writing duo, who gave India some incredible films like Yaadon Ki Baaraat, Sholay, Deewar etc. While watching Lakhia’s Zanjeer I got the feeling that they had in fact lost the script and were simply faffing around, making up the story as the shoot went by. How else does one explain the utter lack of logic and reason that characterised the film!
Sample this- Vijay (Ram Charan) wants to take the oil mafia in Mumbai down (spearheaded by Teja), and for this he blazes into an illegal slum colony in his expensive SUV, on the hunch that that’s the centre of the oil smuggling network. He literally blows up the entire slum, loss of innocent human life be damned, and walks off in slow motion. Stylish aviators and linen shirt- check.
The new Vijay is ultra macho, hyper masculine, and perpetually angry. His back story is barely delved into and we never feel invested in his fight against crime. Ram Charan glares, twitches, barks, shouts and pouts his way through the movie, never really emoting at all. I’m quite certain he had more makeup on than Priyanka Chopra. Not a hair out of place, he seemed airbrushed all through.
Priyanka Chopra’s character was utterly pointless and she was infuriatingly annoying. Jaya Bachchan’s ‘chakku-churri’ wielding spunky Mala is replaced by an NRI dimwit whose only aim in life seems to be shopping. Vijay’s confidant and aid Sher Khan (Sanjay Dutt) is perhaps the only human character in the film and Dutt does well to invoke both fear and friendship. I still can’t understand why he was wearing hot pink and yellow kurtas, but then there isn’t much that makes sense in this film.
I was ecstatic at Prakash Raj’s entry, but my joy was short lived since Ajit’s cold and calculating Teja had been mutilated into a clown right out of Sajid Khan’s films. He even ‘meows’ every time he sees Mona (Mahi Gill) mouthing such terrible lines like, “Mona darling, you should only open your mouth for one and only one purpose.”
If this is the filmmaker’s idea of a tribute, then I shudder to think what other films he might threaten to remake next. Zanjeer was and is loved by so many because it spoke of moral corruption just as much as it addressed material injustice. Lakhia drained the film of all its emotions, relationships and reason and filled the gap with well shot action sequences, chiselled bodies, cheap humour and atrocious dialogues. Unfortunately, no one remembers a film that doesn’t bother to take itself seriously, particularly a remake of a classic.
We hear Amitabh Bachchan’s version of the ‘yeh police station hai…’ dialogue at the end of the film and immediately it becomes clear how shallow the remake was. Bachchan’s voice had more power and weight than three hours of clowning about. Salim-Javed must be weeping at this travesty of their masterpiece.