Film Review: Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag


Film: Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag


Director: Ram Gopal Varma


Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Mohanlal, Ajay Devgan, Sushmita Sen, Nisha Kothari, Prashant Raj and Rajpal Yadav


Special Appearance: Urmila Matondkar, Abhishek Bachchan


Rating: 1/5


It’s no secret that Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag is Sholay in a contemporary setting. The characters are all the same and yet so not. To cut a long story short – Aag doesn’t even do wee bit justice in terms of the plot, storyline, character sketches etc, to the timeless classic that Varma gives a “tribute” to via this film. A yawny first half and an OK-in-parts second half is what this film offers.


The story of Aag is set in the dark underbelly of Mumbai where a radical leader – Babban (Amitabh Bachchan) – has risen to rule the underworld. He is supposed to be cruel beyond imagination, psychotically violent and far more devious than any gangster the city has ever known. Yet, one can’t forget the evergreen character of Gabbar Singh in Sholay and the dread he spread amongst the village folks. How can one forget the dialogue – “Pachas kos door gaon mein jab bacha rota hai to maa kehti hai, beta soja… soja nahi to Gabbar Singh aa jaayega.” That was the fear level we’re talking! Babban, on the other hand, is old and limping and doesn’t manage to strike that fear cord.


Nobody has ever seen Babban and if they did they didn’t survive to tell the tale. But inspector Narshimha (Mohanlal), an encounter specialist, believed in his existence. His goal in life is to kill Babban with his own hands. Like the original – Narshimha’s family has been murdered by Babban and to seek revenge, he hires two boys – Heroo (Ajay Devgan) and Raj (Prashant Raj). But unlike the original, where Thakur’s hands were chopped off by Gabbar, our man Babban makes do with Narsu’s fingers!


Heroo and Raj come and stay with Narshimha in Kaliganj and swear to fight Babban, who wants to usurp their land. It’s here that Herroo meets Ghungroo (Nisha Kothari) and Raj meets Durga Devi (Sushmita Sen). And it’s exactly here where the director falters. Varma has failed in portraying the chemistry between two friends – Herroo and Raj like it was shared between Jai and Veeru. The fun in Sholay was the relationship that these two shared with each other. But in Aag, they hardly seem connected to each other. Whatever emotions one sees between them seem forced.


The love story between Herroo and Ghungroo is dull and dry and that between Raj and Durga Devi looks forced. Moreover the scene, where Ghungroo makes Durga realize that Raj liked her and even Durga was in love with him without knowing it, is very superficial. One has to see the reaction on Sushmita Sen’s face to believe it. It’s phony to say the least!


The suicide scene as is seen in the film should not have been attempted by Varma in the first place. Devgan, who looks anything but drunk, fails to come anywhere close to Dharmendra’s brilliant attempt at suicide in Sholay. Devgan ruins it royally.


Varma fails yet again to connect the audience with his characters and their dialouges. If there is one thing Sholay is remembered for it’s the first rate dialogues penned by Salim – Javed. In Aag, there is not a single dialogue that the audience can take home with them!


Now coming to the two big actors in the film – Bachchan and Mohanlal – both actors have delivered a good performance. Bachchan has yet again proven his mettle as an actor. His portrays the nuances of the character with utmost style. Mohanlal in his restrained performance is good.


Ajay Devgan surely has given better performances than this one, whereas Prashant Raj carries a lost look throughout the film. Sushant Singh performs but could have done better. One forgets of Rajpal Yadav’s existence in the film as he truly disappears in the first half itself. Sushmita Sen fails to add value to the already dead film. Nisha Kothari does just about ok as the boisterous rickshaw driver.


Like in every RGV movie there is a clash of cinematic conventions and a few experiments, if one could call it so. This film is filled with such clashes and what one sees is a jamboree of sorts. While the editing is not bad; it is clearly the sequencing and instructions followed that is responsible for the slapdash film. The filters usage and DI work is great as they create rich textures and this aids in creating a mood.


However, one is left wondering what the cameraperson was doing with the camera – neither the shots are well framed (it’s surprising since it is a RGV film and this is the key point in all the films) nor are any of the scenes cinematically good, let alone brilliant. While as an experience the film is not great, even technically the film is no great show. The background music is jarring and the songs leave you feeling hapless.


While Varma has been shouting from rooftops that this film is his tribute to Sholay, we beg to differ. If Aag is his tribute, then we wonder what he would do when he decides to remake a film he hates!


The credit of the one star rating goes solely to Bachchan and Mohanlal. At the box office, the film might open well on the first day but will fall flat on its face soon thereafter. The inevitable comparisons between a brilliant film like Sholay and a mediocre film like Aag will surely hamper its prospects at the box office. Stay away from this as we have our two thumbs down.