“Naam, Vijay Dinanath Chauhan, poora naam…”
There is a quintessential difference between Vijay Dinanath Chauhan (referred as VDC henceforth) and Raj Malhotra. To understand that, you will need to rack your brains trying listing the bollywood character names you can recall – Along with surname! Gabbar Singh hits hard, Ravi and Vijay Verma come immediately, Chulbul Pandey is fresh in the mind, Mohan Bhargava and Tara Singh could pretty much wrap up the list. While the movie industry has had numerous popular single names –Salman’s Prem & Sameer, Shahrukh’s Rahul (twice) & Devdas, Sanjay’s Raghu and Munna (along with ‘Circuit’) to name a few – the common thread to all the names listed above has been that apart from VDC, they all belonged to money spinning super hit movies.
“Ajeeb cheez hai yeh telephone, idhar se aadmi sochta kuch hai, bolta kuch hai, karta kuch hai”
Which means the persona created by Mukul S Anand had a lot more attached to it than just a best actor national award (anyone remembers Raveena Tandon’s name in Daman?). The national award conferred to VDC was in itself more like a soccer referee gifting a penalty kick, making amends, after erroneously showing red card to a player from the same team, before. Deewar swept the 1976 Filmfare awards, and Big B went home empty handed. Filmfare patched up the error two years later with Amar Akbar Anthony. But as with most government related experiences, it took the national award jury fifteen years before they compensated the legendary megastar.
“Tum saale gore chamde ke log hamesha dhoke se kaam karte hai”
My two theatre trips in 2012 have been to Farhan Akhtar’s sequel to a remake, and Karan Johar’s remake. Both luring audiences with the same formula – star power, six pack beef cakes, colours in plenty (one shot in Europe, other showcased over marriage and Ganpati immersion songs), high quality fight sequences (some copied – in case of Don2) and Priyanka Chopra – the only person who would escape criticism and add feathers to her cap. I don’t have a problem with that.
“Apne dhande ka usool hai, baayen haath se jo karo, woh daayen haath ko pata bhi na chale”
I have a problem with how Om Puri was reduced to a caricature. In both movies he was in his last year of service, determined to catch the most wanted person, but shown only attending press conferences and delivering standard fare. Any tv actor could have done that role. One scene which had me burst into laughter was when he screamed “Its Da-w-nnn” upon realization that Don was inside the building! Om Puri’s illustrious career has seen him do roles of law protector in two modes – where he gave us the chills in Ardh Satya/Drohkaal or as the alcoholic cop in Gupt who easily overshadowed the massive high profile cast. Karan and Farhan have no rights to attempt erase those memories.
“Pagaar bhadhao, Gaitonde sahaab, pandrah-sau (1500) me ghar nahi chalta, saala imaan kidhar se chalega? hainn”
I have a problem with how Vijay Chauhan was reduced to a brooding, sulking image living in a Dongri chawl – imagine Mumbai’s most wanted right hand man hardly had any henchmen or dialogues in the first half. The Vijay Chauhan that I know was classy, suave, majestic, surrounded by henchmen, dined at high profile restaurants and yet remained ruthless. VDC also reminded a rawer version of the original Don – Not the one in Don 2, not in remake Don, not the Amitabh in the second half of the original, but the Amitabh is the first 45 mins of the original. He was possibly more polished, urbane, royal and yet so focused in his objective that didn’t bat an eyelid to seducing heroines. The man’s legendary status stayed in his characters, dialogues and the style he carried – remixing them is just not on. We never saw “Mukhtar Singh” but we recall this name as ‘HE’ had mentioned it!
“Main apne maalik ka puraana, bahut puraana wafadaar hun. Jo kuch leta hun sut samet waapas karta hun”
Mukul Anand dared to experiment with Agneepath. While VDC was shown stylish, he was so unpredictable that at one point he makes a blatant confession of wanting to emulate Kancha Cheena’s dressing style. In how many movies have you seen the hero ask for the tailor’s bill from the villain? Or the person who revolutionized disco in 80s, playing role of a South Indian caricature? Or a director daring to tamper with the baritone of a leading star? Or possibly Bollywood’s most handsome villain alongside Pran, Danny Denzongpa, matching the protagonist frame by frame in style and class?
Make no mistake, am not belittling Karan Johar’s Agneepath. His version, independently, is a watchable movie and probably has less flaws than the original. But as a powerful Bollywood producer, he has no right to start belittling memories which certain movies and characters have got embedded in growing up years. In case he or Farhan (whose ZNMD was nothing but a rich, yo version of the unforgettable DCH) are running short of ideas, they can pick a few leaves from the book of a powerful television producer. Tired of launching her brother, and starting movie names with K, Ekta Kapoor ventured into unchartered territories and her last five hindi ventures have got profits as well as critical acclaim. If Farhan and Karan are desperate to remake movies, why don’t they try remaking little heard regional movies – at least it will reach a new audience carrying no baggages and wanting to see the original. I liked Virasat and subsequently saw “Thevar Magan“. Or try the Sahib, Biwi aur Gangster route. Or pay tribute the way Sriram Raghavan gave to Big B’s Parwana in Johnny Gaddar.
“Hawa tez chal rahi hai, Dinkar Rao, apni topi sambhaalo”
Agneepath 2012 had one positive effect on me – I now have more respect for Kader Khan, the dialogue writer. Once, out of the hall, I couldn’t recollect a single dialogue from the current version and spent the next hour recalling the best dialogues of the original. And there were plenty (listed in this article, between paragraphs). Certain characters leave such impressions, am sure many of you have grown up idolizing them. As a high school student I spent a year aping VDC and impressing classmates. My first stage appearance in a drama role was playing Duryodhan in VDC’s style and dialogues in a “Modern Mahabharat” version. VDC is that big an influence in my life. He was a cult, eternal and beyond box office motives.
“Is duniya me tarakki karne ke liye ‘naa’ bolna bahut zaroori hai”
But now he is reduced. The current generation won’t bother watching the old version the way we admired Shammi Kapoor’s old movies. That’s the effect which comes when characters are assassinated, this way. And it left me angry. The new Agneepath’s box office collections will further fuel this shortcut route to success. Karan Johar will be smart enough never to remake Raj Malhotra (DDLJ) cause he wouldn’t like to shoot in the foot. But if he or his ilk attempt to remake Langda Tyagi with Imran Khan or Bhiku Mhatre with Ranbir Kapoor, I will have no option left but to apply for license for a gun.