Suparn Verma, an
Agneepath and Amitabh
Bachchan fan, reveals
why he is looking forward
to the remake
t was the first year of my professional life in
1996 when I met director Mukul Anand, I
was a fan of Insaaf and his craft and had an
opinion about his scripts.
He met me with an open mind and large
heart, answered all my questions with com-
plete magnanimity and won me over. He was
my first fanboy experience and one of the few
who didn’t disappoint.
In 1990, Mukul had been termed a whizkid. In
1990 he released the first of his four films with
Amitabh Bachchan, Agneepath, till the superstar
went on a hiatus.
Agneepath had the legendary actor experimenting
with his signature voice. It had notes inspired by
Scarface and some elements of underworld kingpin
Manya Surve. It was a good film, but a box office flop.
The makers redubbed the film with Bachchan’s
original voice, but nothing changed.
Lots of reasons were thrown in the post mortem,
but honestly I find it reasonable to say it was a film
ahead of its times just in terms of sensibility.
It remains one of my favorite Bachchan films with
him as Vijay Dinanath Chavan (though with the
exception of half-a-dozen films I love him in every-
thing he has done) and the blood-soaked poster.
Mithun Chakraborty won the National award for the
second time with his superlative Krishnan Iyer, M A,
Naariyalpaaniwala and the other legend I have had
the fortune of working with, Danny Denzongpa as
While interacting with Denzongpa when I made
my film Acid Factory we would discuss Agneepath
and his other Mukul Anand film Hum, the most and
he would have the most vivid recollections and act
out details from scenes, some of which were left on
the editing table.
I still can’t forget the scene when Vijay runs into the
chawl and castrates the rapist played by Deepak
Shrike. The low angle shots, the use of steady cam,
the burnt out sky, the lighting, I have seen that scenes
so many times in my life just to learn from it.
The other scene is when Vijay drops from the heli-
copter, swims the simmering blue Mauritian water
and meets the man in white, Kancha Cheena, a scene
so well done I am sure Brian De Palma would have
I was in Mauritius during the shoot for my film Yeh
Kya Ho Raha Hai and the first thing I noticed was
the color of the water. Those were the days when
there was no digital intermediate, Anand and his
amazing director of photography Pravin Bhatt got
Sanjay Dutt, left, and Hrithik Roshan face
off in the new Agneepath. Dutt plays the
iconic baddie Kancha Cheena
the color of the water to the perfect azure blue.
My only problem with Agneepath was Rohini
Hattangadi as Vijay’s mother. Her whole track irritat-
ed me to the core, though some would argue she was
needed for the emotional core and to argue the whole
good versus evil, but am sure Mukul himself would
have done away with her track if he remade the film
Twenty-two years later, producer Yash Johar’s son
Karan remakes the first of his father’s film.
I think his timing couldn’t have been better,
because today you have an audience that under-
stands that a remake is also a reinvention and not
necessarily a scene by scene remake of the original.
We are living in the era of writer Steve Moffat rein-
venting Conan Doyle’s Holmes and actor Benedict
Cumberbatch reinventing the definitive Holmes on
television enacted by Jeremy Brett.
Going against the grain, debutant director Karan
Malhotra and Johar have cast Hrithik Roshan
instead of the more obvious choice of Abhishek
Bachchan as Vijay Dinanath Chavan and an
absolutely new Kancha Cheena in the form of a
Kurtz-like Sanjay Dutt.
In doing that they have smartly set the table for a
reinvention and not a simplistic remake, using the
skeleton of the previous story, yet creating a newer
villain and characters like Rishi Kapoor’s Rauf Lala
and Priyanka Chopra’s Kali and deleting some
beloved ones like Mithun Chakraborty’s Iyer, which
the actor owned completely.
Suparn Verma is the director of films like Ek Khiladi Ek
Hasina and Acid Factory