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.
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.
No one can do to the sullen cop's role what Mr Bachchan did. But yes, even in his new avatar, Inspector Vijay Khanna played by Ram Charan Teja seethes, simmers and boils over with an indignant rage. Everything about the festering rotten 'system' makes him annoyed and churlish.
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.
From the Ganpati Viasarjan to the Moharram, Lakhia's interpretation of Zanjeer traverses a mammoth canvas of rapid-fire images. Gururaj Jois's camera moves dexterously, but never to divert our attention from the central conflict. And Chintan Gandhi's dialogues use one-liners judiciously, never over-doing the smart-alec retorts.
The momentum never slackens. The most tongue-in-cheek homage I've seen in a remake occurs in this film when we see the new Teja-Mona pair watching actor Ajit and Bindu in the original Zanjeer on a DVD. The sequence is irreverent without appearing to belittle the original. It reminds us of the renewed cycle of art and individual talent.
This is one remake that stands tall and lithe. It is manned by a manful supply of action and yet manages to keep the machismo understated. Breakneck-paced, adrenaline-pumping, pulse-pounding - Lakhia's deconstructed version of the Prakash Mehra film is a full-on pacy paisa-vasool entertainer with brio and balls.
Throughout the film, we sense the director's immense affection for the original Zanjeer, a reverence that never clouds his judgement. Ram Charan Teja makes an impressive Bollywood debut. We can safely say he is the man among the boys. Go for it!
Have a look at the slider for a few more aspects on the new Zanjeer.