Forty years before this Zanjeer's release, there was another movie with the same title. Back then in 1973, it established Amitabh Bachchan's image as the "angry young man" and started his uncomparable and still lasting career. It may be, however, doubted that the same will now happen to South Indian star Ram Charan who with this remake of Amitabh's classic made his debut in Hindi films. Especially in the film's first part he is too sleek and pale with his blow-dry hairstyle, and even though he improves a bit after the interval, he's far, far away from Amitabh Bachchan's intensity and power.
Now it's always a bit unfair to compare a remake with the original, especially when the original was good and successful and is still popular. Like any other movie, a remake should be judged by its own merits. On the other hand, not every remake goes its own and new way as powerful as t ex Karan Malhotra's Agneepath which hardly gave any cause for comparisons, not least because of the main leads' strong performances. Apoorva Lakhia's Zanjeer remake, however, hardly gives any new aspects to the story and is, taken as a whole, pale. It's surely not Prakash Raj's and Sanjay Dutt's fault; thanks to their experience and joy of acting they give the best they could within the means they were provided with. But what could they do when once again fight scenes were shot mostly in slow motion so that at some point you start wondering whether it's Vijay and Sher Khan who are about to fall asleep or whether it's you.
And why on earth did Priyanka Chopra agree to do this role after, in Barfi, having proved once again what a fabulous actress she is? Why did she play this stupid hysterical little woman who, in the best of classical Indian filmi ways, is given a slating by the big male chauvinist and is to be safely locked away in danger (which she as a woman obviously is not supposed to be able to handle)? I so much hoped these times were gone... Atul Kulkarni as the journalist Jay Dev and Mahie Gill as Mona Darling are giving solid support.
In all, however, the film is not really convincing. Especially in the first part it gives quite a cold impression, and unfortunately Sanjay Dutt has hardly any scenes there to add his warmth to the movie. Later, after the interval, he's got a bit more to do. Okay, let's put aside Sher Khan's strange hairstyle and the scar on his cheek... but I absolutely loved his collection of plain kurtas in every colour of the rainbow as they reminded me of Munnabhai's shirt collection. And after all, in a certain manner Sher Khan is like Munnabhai – a loveable gangster with a golden heart... and that's why this role was perfect for Sanjay Dutt. (And he doesn't need to fear any comparison with the legendary Pran's original Sher Khan.)
Like Policegiri, Sanjay completed even Zanjeer in great haste before he had to surrender in jail in May 2013. Obviously he ran out of time in the end as in the final scene, it wasn't Sanjay who dubbed Sher Khan's lines. I wonder whether this was a last minute scene – an expression of hope and solidarity with Sanjay. For this scene indicates the possibility of a sequel... Well, why not, if Apoorva Lakhia finds another (and good!) story for Vijay and Sher Khan. After all, Sanjay won't be away forever.
Produced by Reliance Entertainment, Puneet Prakash Mehra, Sumeet Prakash Mehra & Flying Turtle Films; Directed by Apoorva Lakhia
135 Min.; DVD: Reliance, English Subtitles (including songs)