You don’t need to remake Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer to make a film about an honest police officer or for that matter a revenge drama. The crucial elements of the film that gave us the angry young man have been unofficially copied so many times that one has lost count. But then director Apoorva Lakhia, perhaps, wanting to evoke some interest in his career and give Telugu star Ram Charan a solid launching pad in Bollywood, has reduced Salim-Javed’s explosive script into a potpourri of borrowed ideas.
Of course, Lakhia is known to give his films a sleek feel, but that’s about it. He would have been better placed had he lifted the elements like many of his predecessors for then he would not have spoiled our memories of the original.
Anyway, inspector Vijay Khanna is back as additional commissioner of police and is transferred to Mumbai from Hyderabad to justify Ram Charan’s shift. An uneasy childhood continues to give him nightmares and is the reason for his unrestrained anger. Ram Charan has the eyes to justify this emotion. Stylishly shot, he has delivered the punch lines with confidence but Lakhia’s tacky reworking of the old recipe gives him little space to improvise.
Spurred by the murder of an official, which is witnessed by an NRI girl Mala (Priyanka Chopra), Vijay takes on the oil mafia led by Teja (Prakash Raj) and is supported by Sher Khan, a criminal with a heart of gold, and a spirited journalist (Atul Kulkarni).
It is four decades since the original hit the screens, but Lakhia and his co-writer Suresh Nair still try to sell us the coincidences that marked the cinema of the 70s…when the hero used to reach just in the nick of time to save the heroine and the supporting actor would reveal his secrets to the villain. They have repeated the narrative framework where we can easily guess that this character is going to be bumped off in the next scene and this one will be saved by the dramatic entry of the hero. Perhaps, the presence of chains in the posters and opening credits, should have prepared us for the fact that Lakhia is going to take things literally!
A case of poor adaptation, there is no effort to look into the making of Sher Khan or modernise him or give the anger of Vijay a new dimension. We know only as much about these characters as Salim-Javed told us. The iconic conversation between Vijay Khanna and Sher Khan in the police station has little relevance in today’s times and fails to make an impact. The unmistakable rapport that the two shared in the original is missing here. The fans would remember that Vijay used to have nightmares about a horse. Lakhia has retained the plot point but has conveniently forgotten to explain the reasons.
And the new ones such as the burning of the official and the killing of a crime reporter have been lifted from newspaper headlines without any emotional layering. Priyanka Chopra as the motor mouth Mala is nothing more than a glamorous doll. Sanjay Dutt as Sher Khan is saddled with pedestrian dialogues. In no mood to flex his muscles, he comes across like cardboard. Prakash Raj replaces Ajit as the new Teja and chews up the scenery with disdain. In fact, he and Mahie Gill as Mona Darling provide some cheesy humour. The music, which was the highlight of the original, is off key here. The Pathan song is a poor imitation and the item numbers fail to connect. If you do succumb to the charm of Ram Charan or Priyanka Chopra, the best way to watch this film is with friends. And as Jaya Bhaduri said in the original chaku chhuriyan tej kara lo. Get your knives sharpened. There are plenty of silly moments to jibe at.
Director: Apoorva Lakhia
Cast: Ram Charan, Priyanka Chopra, Prakash Raj, Mahie Gill
Storyline: Fighting his own nightmares, ACP Vijay Khanna takes on the oil mafia.
Bottomline: An unwarranted remake, this time it is the turn of the audience to turn angry!
Keywords: Zanjeer review