A ghost of the namesake

A ghost of the namesake

A ghost of the namesake

Zanjeer
Hindi: U/A ¬
Director: Apoorva Lakhia
Cast: Ram Charan, Sanjay Dutt, Priyanka Chopra, Prakaash Raj, Atul Kulkarni, Mahi Gill

Take an erstwhile classic, put in a couple of modern touches and way more item numbers than necessary, change the storyline in the name of modernisation till even logic starts to fall apart, add a sprinkle of insipid acting coupled with inane or sarcasm-eliciting lines, like “I thought you had a heart because you are a woman”, and you will find the weakest link in what the makers must have thought was a sure-shot remake formula for Zanjeer, the film that defined Amitabh Bachchan and a whole generation of wannabe angry young  men.

How else does Apoorva Lakhia, the man who gave us the slightly-over-the-top but gritty Shootout at Lokhandwala, explain why his 2-hour-17-minute film feels interminably longer, and despite having a tried-and-tested formula, never manages to make the audience sit up and take attention? How does he justify casting Ram Charan, who is on his Bollywood debut and looks extremely metrosexual with visible make-up in some scenes, in a role that screamed for a more intense performance? And when the horse that haunts protagonist Vijay Khanna’s dreams turns out to be a tattoo instead of the metal chain that gave the original film its name, where’s the logic of naming the film Zanjeer?

There’s little point in bringing in the plot points into this review. Simply replace spurious liquor with spurious fuel, a roadside performer with an NRI girl whose knowledge of India will put even foreign nationals to shame and the half-insane old informer with an upright journalist who gets killed a la Jyotirmoy Dey — with even an Amul moppet hoarding dedicated to him. The rest of the characters remain much the same.

Missing is the passion with which Bachchan had delivered his first hit, the elan with which Pran had single-handedly changed the way we viewed Pathans, the very realistic angst that underlined several scenes and the menace exuded by Ajit.
True, that Prakash Raj can be menacing too, but it’s never brought out!

With acting that barely rises over mediocre, under-use of powerhouses like Mahie Gill and Atul Kulkarni, music that registers mostly in the form of loud item numbers and make you zone out, a script that exaggerates the worst-possible moments of the original while doing away with some serious verbal and mental pow-wow, this Zanjeer is best left alone on the weekends.

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