Reviewing the Reviews: Critics give Apoorva Lakhia’s Zanjeer a mauling

10 Sep,2013

By Deepa Gahlot



Director: Apoorva Lakhia

Starring: Ram Charan, Priyanka Chopra, Sanjay Dutt


Many of today’s multiplex audiences were probably not born when the original Zanjeer was made by Prakash Mehra in 1973. In spite of having no memories of the film or knowledge of its legacy, they rejected it.


Critics, were of course, understandably savage—Apoorva Lakhia’s remake deserved a mauling. And Ram Charan was thrashed too, for even trying to do a role immortalised by Amitabh Bachchan.  This film got 0 stars and some 2 or 2.5s, but the unarticulated question was: How dare they?


Aniruddha Guha of Time Out ranted, “For Lakhia, this is another dud in a career that boasts of some of the most terrible Hindi films of the past decade. Without a shred of originality, no sense of aesthetics, and a major lack of finesse, Lakhia needs to reinvent himself completely if we have to sit through another one of his films. That’s a rather unrealistic hope, I must add.”


Raja Sen of commented, “Ram Charan Teja makes his Hindi film debut with this Bachchan remake, and my heart goes out to his fans who will have to sit through this tediously trashy film. To paraphrase an unforgettable Indian movie character who shares a name with this new hero: Teja tum ho, marks idhar hai — alas, it isn’t anywhere close to a passing grade, son. You shouldn’t have bloody tried.”


Shubhra Gupta of the Indian Express asked ‘why’. “Implicit in all remakes is the idea that you are refreshing the film, both for those who may have seen the original, as well as for newbies ( in the screening I was at, I found someone who, gasp, hadn’t seen the old one). The filmmakers have been carefully calling it a “tribute”, and they have added a couple of elements which weren’t in the older film, but to me it was a neither here-nor-there thing: it’s neither faithful remake nor campy, knowing tribute. It’s just a poor copy. So why?”


Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN fulminated: “Directed by Apoorva Lakhia, who has previously unleashed such atrocities on our senses as ‘Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost’ and ‘Mission Istanbul’, the new ‘Zanjeer’ isn’t just a bad film, it’s a shameless exercise in laziness. As anyone who watches movies for a living will tell you, there’s some merit to be found even in awful films…a nicely picturised song perhaps, or a decent performance from a random supporting actor, possibly a relevant message buried somewhere in the mess. But I’m afraid there’s nothing polite that can be said about ‘Zanjeer’.”


Vinayak Chakravorty in India Today rightly commented: “They shouldn’t have messed with Zanjeer. Don was still understandable, Agneepath too. But if you can’t get an actor who can use silences to emote aggression you should not fiddle with an original that pretty much defined new-age violence for the Hindi screen. It is pointless saying comparisons will not crop up, every frame of Apoorva Lakhia’s remake shouts out reasons why it shouldn’t have been made. The remarkable thing about Prakash Mehra’s 1973 original was its underplayed angst. Lakhia’s version goes over the top with dumb action and dumber drama. Essentially, he fobs off Salim-Javed’s original idea, passes it off with a few tweaks, and gives it mindless treatment.Zanjeer 2013 looks like one of those noisy south Indian remakes Bollywood regularly peddles rather than a tribute to one of the greatest commercial films of Hindi cinema.”


Tushar Joshi of DNA deplored its weak points: “Zanjeer struggles to find its own ground. The first half is a land mine of unnecessary songs and hackneyed dialogues that seem written for an audience for a different era. Whenever Lakhia tries to create a reference point to the original or recreate a moment, the initiative falls flat. It’s not just originality but also lack of novelty that mars the film from being anything but ordinary.”


Karan Anshuman of the Mumbai Mirror wrote: “If Salim-Javed do watch this film, one wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to give the money and ‘core story’ credit back and disassociate themselves from this embarrassment of a “remake”. In this distressing time of remakes and hand-me-down inspirations, let’s remember Herman Melville, “It is better to fail at originality than to succeed in imitation.” Zanjeer manages neither.


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