Ram Gopal Varma was apparently very obsessed with the idea of remaking Sholay. He, obviously, did not realize the gigantic task of recreating the same magic. And in his blind zeal and obsession, Varma floundered.
If Sholay worked because of its characters and its ambience, Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag suffered because of its own weaknesses. This is definitely a remake of Sholay. It treads the same path that Sanjay Leela Bhansali followed in Devdaas, Pradeep Sarkar in Parineeta, Farhan Akhtar in Don and Ram Gopal Varma himself in Sarkar. While the first three movies were remakes of hit Hindi classics, Sarkar was an adaptation of Ram Gopal Varma’s favourite movie God Father.
RGV Ki Aag stays loyal to Sholay as far as the basic plot of the story is concerned. Two small-time crooks, Hero (Ajay Devgan) and Raj (Prashant Raj) catch the eye of honest police inspector Narsimha (Mohanlal) because of their bravery. Later, Narsimha hires them to catch the dreaded and notorious gangster Babban Singh (Amitabh Bchchan) who killed Narsimha’s family and cut off his fingers.
Hero and Raj arrive in Kaliganj where Heero falls for the charm of a beautiful auto-rickshaw driver Ghungroo (Nisha Kothari) while Raj develops feelings for the grim widow Durga (Sushmita Sen).
As Heero and Raj begin cracking down on Babban Singh and his men, battle lines are drawn. Babban, along with his henchman Thambi (Sushant Singh), will fight to the bitter end to eliminate the two brave recruits of Narsimha.
Firstly, Ramu cast wrong actors in the roles of Heero and Raj. Ajay Devagan(as Heero) doesn’t have the flair to tickle the funny bone. And newcomer Prashant Raj(as brooding Raj) simply doesn’t know how to act. With these two pivotal roles going to inappropriate actors, the movie is already half sunk. Only Mohanlal and Sushmita Sen look convincing in their respective roles.
Ramu has given a very different interpretation to the character of Babban Singh (originally Gabbar). His Babban looks menacing, repulsive and fatigued. He is a bit psychotic with a slight caricaturesque streak. And yet one doesn’t dread this character half as much as one did Gabbar Singh. Unlike the latter, there is not a single dialogue of Babban Singh that one would carry in his/her memory.
Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag belongs to two persons. One, Ram Gopal Varma himself and the second is Amitabh Bachchan. Ram
Gopal Varma is an adamant film maker; he made Shiva last year to prove his point when his protégé Rohit Jugraj failed to live up to his expectations. Now, he makes RGV Ki Aag to prove his point once again. He had Amitabh Bachchan with him who is keener than ever before to do roles of any kind that he could not do when he was at the pinnacle of career. This is to recall that Amitabh Bachchan who played Jai in original Sholay wished to play Gabbar in that film, but failed. However, his desire to play the same role materialized when he met with Ramu, who has made him Babban!
The movie could have been salvaged only through performances, but there too one meets with disappointment only. Ajay Devgan is just average. Prashant Raj can’t act. Nisha Kothari hams. Mohanlal is good and Sushmita Sen is very expressive. Amitabh Bachchan does his best to enact Ramu’s interpretation of Babban Singh.
Unlike the original film, RGV Ki Aag has nothing that leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. The movie is a mere assorted collection of Varma’s own interpretation of scenes from the original. There is no cohesive linear flow in the story. The dialogues, with frequent references to America, Iraq and Al Qaeda, are ghoulishly amateurish. Nowhere close to the mastery of Salim and Javed in the original. Ram Gopal Varma gives his own twist to the story and characters of the original movie. But he does incorporate some scenes from Sholay. Like the scene when Heero threatens to commit suicide if Ghungroo’s mother does not agree to marry her with him. Or Heero trying to teach shooting to Ghungroo or Durga nursing a wounded Raj.
What Ramu fails to do is to create a right chemistry between the characters. For instance, you don’t see and feel any camaraderie between Heero and Raj. Even the muted love between Raj and Durga is bland. To cut to the chase, Ramu fails big time as a director.
The cinematography by Amit Roy is brilliant, but Amar Mohile’s background score is terrible. Even the film’s songs are just mediocre compositions and the much talked-about Mehbooba Mehbooba (with special appearance by Urmila Matondkar and Abhishek Bachchan) is not a patch on RD Burman’s composition.
If Sholay centered around Gabbar, Ramu tries to weave a terror story around Babban. But Babban fails to create the same undercurrent of terror that Gabbar created. With the development of film technology, every one thought that RGV Ki Aag would be more slick and entertaining as Farhan’s Don. But, the Master fails in getting the quotient right.
Thanks to Ram Gopal Varma that he made this film in 14 reels only, had it been an 18 reel film like the original, the people would have started walking out of the cinema half way. There is no harm to remake a classic, but then the remake must be at least parallel to the original if not better than that.
Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag has nothing to carry back home.