“Kitne aadmi the?”
Well yea, even after warnings from heck lot of reviews and my friends, finally I got to see the “Aag” aka RGV ki Aag aka RGV ki Sholay. The situation was so worse that nobody even cared to accompany me. But, I had to watch it anyways. Reasons – Sholay (Sippy one) is my all-time favorite, RGV is my all-time favorite too, Sholay was RGV’s all-time favorite too. Yeh to “three much” tha! Another coincidence was that we all three had similar sort of determination – Sippy(to not let RGV use names from his epic movie), RGV (to remake, read tribute, Sholay anyways), and me (to watch it at all costs, giving damn to all reviews and stuffs).
Anyways, so coming to the main question, “kitne aadmi the?”. Well, there were total 6 people in the theater – 2 couples (one elder – came to remember ol’ times probably, one pretty younger – chatting most of the times, came to do something else but to watch the movie as I figured out), one guy in 30s, and urs truly. I was the first to enter in the theater, so I asked the ticket checker guy that whether I was going to watch the movie all alone. He gave a sarcastic smile and said – “no, its still 10 minutes left, so people might be standing outside”. I guess he meant to say that I am not the only fool left in East Delhi. Anyways, I grabbed the corner seat. Lights appeared on the screen but it was the time to watch trailers. To haunt non-RGV junta more, the screen showed 4-5 trailers of other upcoming “Factory” films. Well, the movie started and started well.
Denying the common perception, I can firmly say that Aag was no way a remake of Sholay. Neither RGV intended to remake Sholay nor the Aag seems to plagiarize Sholay by any mean, not even according to the tiniest detail. I trusted RGV when he had said that he actually paid a tribute to Sholay and he didn’t let my trust down after I saw the movie. So, all of the people who have been criticizing Aag by comparing every bit of it with Sholay are factually not giving justice to the effort RGV put into. Aag can be enjoyed only when you sit in the theater by keeping Sholay out of your mind while watching the moving frames. It surprised and astounded me when I heard people saying that Amitabh Bachchan should not be casted as Babban (the Gabbar of Sholay). Needless to say, Big B gave a different perspective of Gabbar and that epic character was riding across a new horizon. And not only BigB, but also Thakur, Raamgarh, Imaam Saheb, and Mehbooba.
So, what went wrong? What is the problem with RGV, as ToI has written today? There is nothing wrong with RGV and it never was. They have quoted the same thing when RGV released Satya, Kaun, Ek Hasina Thi, and others. What went wrong with RGV is that the box office is not with him this time. As far as Aag is concerned, Ramu should have kept the perceptions of the Indian viewers in mind as well, besides following his own conceptions and theories about Sholay. He should have remembered that Sholay was a movie that Indian viewers have almost worshiped and no director can ever eradicate it. It is almost impossible to consider that people will watch a movie which is anyway concerned with Sholay and don’t compare it with the original one. And here, RGV failed. You can take inspirations from Godfather and American Beaut, make a movie, and expect that people won’t relate your movie with the original ones. You can also expect them not to care about Don or Devdaas. But, it was Sholay! Bollywood pundits divide bollywood cinema in two categories – pre-Sholay and post-Sholay. There can never be no-Sholay. RGV knows this very well and following his own past records, he didn’t care about this truth, however he should have. But, at the same time, it doesn’t mean that Aag was the worst movie of the century, as Amod Mehra (an ignoramus trade analyst) said. Who is this Mehra, btw?
There is one more off-track point. Why most of the bollywood don’t like RGV? I mean, when Farhan Akhtar was remaking (yes, remaking) Don, Javed saheb said that it is the best thing which would ever have happened with Don. But when RGV started to remake (not even remake) Sholay, everyone including Javed Akhtar had a problem with it. Bollywood is full of shit – copying, plagiarizing, and remaking. Why such ho-halla about the things RGV do? Now even Anurag Kashyap like people (who had been groomed by RGV) appears in front of media saying RGV is regressing. People have declared it so many times fanatically, i.e., when RGV came with Daud, Kaun, Nach, etc, etc. But, it stil has nothing to do with Aag. Not to forget Sholay itself, Sholay had received only one award in 1975 and that award was for the “best editor”. This is how they had praised the biggest cinema of Bollywood.
Now, coming to the movie. I liked this movie, even after comparing it with original Sholay. If Aag is a remake of Sholay, then we must thank RGV for every tiny part we liked in Aag. There were few parts better in Sholay, but we have already seen that, haven’t we? Still there were few things that we didn’t see in Sholay and we saw them in Aag. After watching Sholay more than a dozen times, I felt that I had some question unanswered in Sholay. Some of the questions might have occurred in other’s minds as well, viz :- Why did Gabbar kill the members of Thakur’s family? Was Gabbar the same as a kid? There were also few things that could have portrayed a bit better in Sholay. Now, this is the area where Aag thrives and we get a value for the money we spent in Aag (as well as in Sholay). Some things were beyond all imaginations, few things just occurred like being dragged on with the motion, and few things really put us down. The sets and screenplay were developed such beautifully that I never realized that I was watching a “boodhi ghodi with laal lagaam”. I mean it made me feel that I was watching Sholay of 2007, not the sholay of 1975. Another example is Thakur and his bahu. In 1975, a thakur living in a village was not able to digest affair of her daughter-in-law and similarly, the bahu could not be vocal with her father-in-law. But in Aag, it was not. There was a grown-up relationship between Thakur and Bahu (though Mohanlal was the elder brother of Sushmita’s husband).
After 100s of reviews, there is no point in writing another review for all scenes and characters . I’ll just summarize few points here. Some of the best scenes of the movie, for which the Aag should be remembered, were:-The Mehbooba Song (truly awesome), the scene when Amitabh cuts the fingers of Mohanlal, the scene when Sushmita encounters Mohanlal after she returns from Prashant(Raj/Jay) ‘s room, the scene when Mohanlal and Co. face the frustration of the fellow villagers, the scene when Amitabh recalls killing of his brother and shoots Prashant, to name a few. Mohanlal, Amitabh, and Sushmita were the best parts of the movie. The background score and cinematography (mostly) was also good. The cameo role of Abhishek in the song “Mehbooba” was really surprising and impressed us all. Ajay Devgan was just okay. The negative sides of the movie were – Nisha Kothari (I dont know why does she exist in Ramu’s flicks, she doesn’t even have the oomph factor), Prashant Raj (He literally murdered the Jai of Sholay and especially the Amitabh-Jaya chemistry), dialogues(for which Sholay can never be beaten by any bollywood flick), some of the action sequences, Soorma Bhopali, and of course, Dhanno. The awesome combination of Jai-Veero (friends), Jai-Radha, and Veeroo-Basanti were clearly missed in Aag. So does the mouth-organ, the coin, the belt of Gabbar, and the motorbike. I can never forget the scene from Sholay when in the moonlight, Jai was playing mouth-organ and Radha was turning lanterns off. It was the one of the best romantic scenes in the history of bollywood movie. Also, the famous friendship of Jai-Veeroo, the tear-jerking scene when Jai dies, the song “yeh dosti”, angrezon ke jamaane ka jailor, and the conversation between Jai and Mausi. These factors really turned viewers down when they compared Aag with Sholay.
After all, Aag is a movie which should be watched at least once. This is really a tribute to the the greatest epic of Indian Celluloid, Sholay. I know that Aag will not remembered for any of its features – good or bad, but thats not the point. We are not watching Aag to remember it. We are factually watching it to remember Sholay, to relive it. To pay tributes to a movie which has been worshiped by the generations. A movie that Indian cinema lovers will never be able to forget or relinquish. A cinema that bridges the generations. This is a tribute. And we should be thankful to Mr. Ram Gopal Varma for that.
“aadmi kitne bhi hon kya fark padta hai!” Watch Mehbooba here.