Movie review: Zanjeer
Cast: Ram Charan, Priyanka Chopra, Prakash Raj, Mahie Gill, Sanjay Dutt, Atul Kulkarni
Director: Apoorva Lakhia
The Indian Express rating: * 1/2
This film brings with it a series of whys, the first being the biggest: why remake an iconic film which has never disappeared from view? Forty years ago, Prakash Mehra made his Zanjeer, with Amitabh Bachchan as Inspector Vijay Khanna, a cop with serious anger management issues, brought on by a murder he witnessed as a child, Jaya Bahaduri as a reluctant witness to a gang killing, Pran as the noble-hearted Pathan-ka-bachcha, the marvelously mannered Ajit as Bad Guy Teja, and Bindu as the bursting-out-of-her-sequinned-slinkiness Mona Darling. That 1973 Zanjeer turned into a superhit, and kickstarted Bachchan's rise and rise in Hindi cinema.
That 40-year-old flick is to be seen forever running on a loop on a movie channel or two. Despite its hamminess (Pran took the word ‘ham’ to sublime levels with his dire auburn wig-and kohl-eyed goonda-turned-good Sher Khan), and its quotient of melodrama, that Prakash Mehra film remains a zinger. It gave us the Bollywood hero with the longest legs, in all senses of the word, and a prototype plot -- cops vs robbers-- which never tires unless done badly.
And then you watch this new Zanjeer and you get started with the whys.
Implicit in all remakes is the idea that you are refreshing the film, both for those who may have seen the original, as well as for newbies ( in the screening I was at, I found someone who, gasp, hadn’t seen the old one).
The filmmakers have been carefully calling it a “tribute”, and they have added a couple of elements which weren’t in the older film, but to me it was a neither here-nor-there thing: it’s neither faithful remake nor campy, knowing tribute. It’s just a poor copy. So why?
Ram Charan, who plays the new Vijay, has the physique for it. He’s tall and hunky and buffed (though that puffed-up hair is straight out of a styling salon) and has the most delicious come-hither heavy lashed eyes. I saw him first in his Telugu superhit Magadheera, a back-to-the-future revenge piece which I loved: he was doing in Telugu what all superstars around the country do in all languages. He was jokey, danced as well as his leading lady, and landed a mean punch.
All of which Ram Charan