Let's not get carried away. Every time a remake comes along, we get gooey-eyed and nostalgic about the original. The 'Zanjeer' remake gets it right. Dead right.
Unlike Ram Gopal Varma's remake of 'Sholay', which was purely misguided, and Karan Malhotra's 'Agneepath', which was unnecessarily brutal, 'Zanjeer' is just what a remake should be. It's respectful to the original material which, let me hasten to add, was no masterpiece, and suspiciously similar to a 1967 film called 'Death Rides A Horse'.
In fact, a similar film 'Yaadon Ki Baraat', written by Salim-Javed and released during the same year 1973 as 'Zanjeer', was far superior.
Providentially, Lakhia's 'Zanjeer' is neither slavishly reverent to the original material nor does it take off into weird wild and wacky tangents - like the Rohit Shetty's recent remake of Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 'Golmaal'.
Rather, the new 'Zanjeer' opens up the original plot, weeds out the humbug and preserves the core of the revenge saga of an angry cop whose ire grows progressively higher as the plot moves through a series of cleverly conceived conflicts that accentuate his alienation from his khaki-coloured line of duty.
No one can do to the sullen cop's role what Mr. Bachchan did. But yes, even in his new avatar, Inspector Vijay Khanna seethes, simmers and boils over with an indignant rage. Everything about the festering rotten 'system' makes him annoyed and churlish.
Since 'Zanjeer', and its more serious-toned country-cousin 'Ardh Satya', numerous cops have vented their cinematic spleen in films as far-ranging in quality as 'Singham' and 'Policegiri'.
What makes Vijay Khanna in the new 'Zanjeer' special is the plot-mechanics which put him in time-worn situations, but subject him to dramatic dynamics that give the prototypical Angry Cop a renewed riveting life of violent score-settling.
That this time the Angry Cop, who was played with such compelling candidness by Amitabh Bachchan in the original 'Zanjeer', is played by Ram Charan Teja is just a huge stroke of luck for the remake. Ram Charan brings in an entirely unique brand of silent satyagraha to his character. When we first see him on screen, he wallops a goonda-politician on a busy road of Hyderabad as a hoarding of Ram Charan's father Chiranjeevi's film looks down on the chaotic scene.
A version of 'Raghupati raghav...' plays in the background as Ram Charan lets us know without wasting time, that he means business.
The pace from that hard-hitting moment is relentless. The momentum never slackens even when Vijay Khanna gets down to expressing tender thoughts for the fast-talking befuddled and disoriented NRI girl Mala. Playing Mala, Priyanka Chopra seems to have a whole lot of infectious fun. She spells joie de vivre and looks gorgeous. Priyanka is the comic relief in this fast-paced actioner where fists and the background point out an ominous warning.
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