Monday, September 03, 2007

RGV's Aag:Goes up in smoke

-By Swetha Amit
In the present era of remakes, comparisons are inevitable especially when the original was a sizzling blockbuster like Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay.

One cannot help but draw parallels of RGV’s hyped project to its exemplar. Simultaneously one tends to screen Sholay in ones mind immediately on hearing the similar and nostalgic background score. The story of course is no mystery and sticks to that of the original. It is adapted and attuned to the contemporary yet overplayed theme of the dark underworld. However this is no novel idea for an RGV product.

Raj (Prashant Raj) and Heero (Ajay Devgan) [Amitabh as Jai and Dharmendra as Veeru respectively in the original] are best friends cum con men who have had several escapades in jail. Their uncanny valor is what makes ex-Inspector Narsimha (Mohanlal) [Played by Sanjeev Kumar as Thakur] hire them for a mission which would avenge and heal his wounds from his traumatic past.

It involves the live capture of the dreaded Don, Babban (Amitabh Bachchan) [Amjad Khan as Gabbar Singh in the former].This purpose of accomplishing the rather uphill task brings them to a village and their encounter with Ghungroo (Nisha Kothari) and the widowed Durga Devi (Sushmita Sen) [Hema Malini as Basanti and Jaya Bachchan as Radha respectively]. How they achieve their risky quest by destroying the vile villain forms rest of the narrative with romantic angles inserted in between.

Aag is a disaster and puts a test to one's patience and tolerance levels. This is apparent as a few are seen walking out of the movie hall in the middle of this supposedly flaming flick.

In spite of the tremendous advancement in film making technology, it fails to recreate the charm and magic present in Sholay. Several significant aspects in the former are conspicuous with its absence in Aag.

The prime thing being the star cast itself with its inability to do justice to its earlier established one especially in the roles of Jai, Basanti, Gabbar and Veeru which is a big disappointment.
Ajay Devgan looks fresh at the start only to possess a jaded look as the film progresses and is no match to the effervescent Veeru. Prashant Raj fails to live up to the dry and straight faced humorous character of Jai’s. Sushmita Sen is just about average. Nisha Kothari desperately needs a course in voice modulation. Her role of ‘Ghungroo’ makes one feel that the sound of a ghungroo would have been more soothing to hear than her crass and hoarse ‘tapori’ accent. Amitabh Bachchan looks old and does not generate shivers down the spine. His haggard and limped walk with his psychotic bouts of laughter sound more like hiccups making one instantly want to offer him a glass of water.

It portrays the fact that Gabbar Singh is irreplaceable and his popularity as the legendary villain can never be re created. His punch dialogues have stamped their authority over the decades. Not even a veteran actor like the Big B can pull off Amjad Khan’s unique poise and style.

The dialogues fail to make a mark. Some unforgettable ones include “Arrey o Samba”, “Ab tera kya hoga kaalia”, “Kitne aadmi the?” sent a roar of applause and proudly stand out even today like the orange-red flames of the fire with a beautiful blaze. Music is horrendous and makes several minds bleed as they recollect the ingenious compositions of R.D.Burman. The peppy track of “Mehbooba Mehbooba” jived by the phenomenal and graceful Helen is not lived up to even by the sultry Urmila Matondkar who looks old and worn out. Direction is pathetic, with the abrupt ending of one scene before moving on to another.

One couldn’t help noticing the lack of chemistry between Raj and Heero which was sizzling between Jai and Veeru and its trademark being symbolized with the track ‘Yeh Dosti’. The original close friendship looked like a stoic professional partnership in the remake version. Also the film was devoid of the comic elements which were present in the former making it an all out entertainer. The jail sequences and outsmarting the jailer were memorable.

Many scenes in Aag included unwarranted bloodshed adding fuel to the fire on a literal basis as many hearts were bleeding as it is with this disgrace. Sholay had astounding ones such as Dharmendra’s drunken scene claiming his love for Basanti which was horrifyingly portrayed in a cheap manner in the latter version. The confrontation scenes between the Thakur and Gabbar were equally outstanding and here it was completely dominated by Mohanlal. The coy and silent glances between Jaya and Amitabh in Sholay proved to be a class apart unlike in Aag. Also the scene where Basanti was held captive and asked to dance to save Veeru’s life was handled gracefully and RGV’s product depicted Ghungroo’s abduction in a gruesome way.

The only saving grace of Aag is Mohanlal who is stupendous in his performance as the ex-Inspector Narsimha who is haunted by the ghost of his painful past. He portrays the emotions of anger/mental anguish with utmost conviction. The scene where Ahmed’s (one of the victims of Babban’s vindictive wrath) father talks about fighting fear and putting the villagers’ interest aside his own grievance of the loss of his only son speaks about his selflessness. This is something one can learn from when fighting for a common cause.

Aag has generated feelings of disgust amongst millions especially the loyalists of Sholay at this pathetic attempt of remaking their favorite movie. It’s high time that originality is concentrated on instead of insulting 70s blockbusters on the pretext of paying a tribute. It only proves the fact that old is gold and can never be retold.

In short, Aag goes up in smoke; fails to ignite the minds and extinguishes the spark of its fiery original.
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