There are good films and there are bad films. And then, once in a cine-while, there is a disaster of a film. After “Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag,” Apoorva Lakhia’s “Zanjeer” is a colossal crash-land of a film. Lakhia, who has previously delivered duds like “Mission Istanbul” and “Mumbai Se Aya Mera Dost,” should seriously consider revisiting the dummy’s guide to filmmaking.
Kicked out of the theatres in less than a week’s time, this howler of a remake is an outright insult to the original. Prakash Mehra’s “Zanjeer” (1973) was legend-wait for-it-dary. It was a film that gave us the classic cops and robbers chase, exposed the fake medicine racket, and immortalized aam aadmi’s original super hero – the Angry Young Man. The brooding angst, the restraint and the undercurrent of anger Amitabh Bachchan as Inspector Vijay Khanna brought to the silver screen is classic. Like her chaaku-churiyan, Jaya Bachchan was razor sharp as Mala, and who can forget the yaaron ka yaar Pathan Sher Khan essayed by Pran. Even in that auburn wig and kohl lined eyes, the actor delivered a class act.
Cut to the present, and Lakhia places the same characters against the oil mafia backdrop. Yes, the loss of parents and man with a tattoo on his arm and riding on a horse still haunts Vijay. But that’s where the similarities end and disaster strikes. As ACP Vijay Khanna, south superstar Ram Charan is as stiff as a lifeless staff and comes across as a simulated video game character. He is a ‘angry’ cop who fights a 100 baddies in knock out punches and has been transferred 17 times. Come to think of it, actor Prithviraj would’ve been a better choice than a lock jawed Ram Charan anyday. If Priyanka Chopra’s ever faced with the question of “worst, regretful performance of her life,” this would be it. Her Pinky song was uncalled for and her dumb blonde act is simply insufferable. She is a Gujju NRI girl who comes to India for a Facebook friend’s wedding and ends up witnessing a murder. This Mala wears chiffon sarees and hot pants, has perfect hair and has the IQ of a four year old. Inducing excruciating pain is Sanjay Dutt who reprises the role of Sher Khan. Even Lurch from the “Addams Family” has more expression than Dutt, who seems to be stuffed and stuck in layers of very bad make-up and equally bad lines to mouth of like “Hindustan main sher auir dost, dono ki kami hai.” I’m still trying to deal with the trauma of watching him and Ram Charan share info while playing a video game.
Where Ajit’s remarkable style raised the bar for villains as Teja, Prakash Raj (Bollywood’s current fav baddie), reduces it to a caricature. Dressed in ill fitted gaudy clothes, he mouths off the corniest of dialogues, not to miss the horniest ones with a misfit moll Mona (Mahie Gill). This Teja is hilarious, especially when he says, “Chicks and Chicken are the two meows of life.” And then comes a sane actor wasted in the film – Atul Kulkarni as a crime reporter cum informer to ACP Vijay Khanna. With super ham lines, a lost-cause of a plot, and mindless action scenes Lakhia’s “Zanjeer” is a catastrophe. There is a reason some films are called classics, and there should be a heavy fine for those who reduce them to nothing but spoofs.