Apoorva Lakhia’s Zanjeer has many similarities to its four-decade old namesake Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer (1973) that breathed fire and brimstone. The original film earned Amitabh Bachchan the epithet ‘angry young man’ and made him world-famous. The 2013 action thriller brings Andhra icon Chiranjeevi’s son, Ram Charan (also an Andhra superstar) to Bollywood. It retains the key plot points and the main characters are rechristened Vijay (Ram Charan), Mala ( Priyanka Chopra), Sher Khan (Sanjay Dutt), Teja (Prakash Raj) and Mona (Mahie Gill) just like the original.
Yet, this film should be judged as a stand-alone offering because attempts to compare the two versions will find the current one falling short, especially in the dialogue and music departments. Nostalgia happens when some original dialogue like ‘Yeh police station hai, tere baap ka ghar nahi’ and ‘Sher Khan beimaani ka dhanda bhi imaandari se karta hai’ are uttered.
To reprise the plot, Zanjeer is the story of an idealistic cop, Vijay Khanna, wanting to bring criminals to the book. Set in Andhra Pradesh, the initial part sets the stage for how dons and ministers have more clout with and within the administration, than an honest policeman. As a result, Vijay is transferred 17 times within AP. In his 18th assignment in Mumbai, this Assistant Commissioner of Police takes on an oil mafia don, Teja (Prakash Raj).
Teja fails to strike fear, playing something between Al Capone (Untouchables) and a buffoon. Anyway, whistleblowers are set on fire and uninhibited killings happen on Mumbai streets, making it seem as if the entire khaki force (except Vijay) is asleep. The climax, shot against the backdrop of a Moharram procession, is interesting.
Ram Charan, as the brooding policeman, excels in action. His dark eyes with long lashes adeptly convey anger. Sanjay Dutt is competent and lovable. Priyanka looks smashing but is overzealous in the American Born Desi Gujarati Girl act. Mahie Gill as the gangster’s girl Mona is raunchy.
An upright cop sees himself transferred innumerable times in five years. Will he succumb to the pressures of the administration or will he make his voice heard above the din?
The Times of India