Reliance Entertainment, Prakash Mehra Pictures, Flying Turtle Films and Rampage Motion Pictures Ltd.’s Zanjeer (UA) is adapted from the old Zanjeer (1973). Vijay Khanna (Ram Charan) is a principled police officer who often gets into trouble for his no-nonsense and honest nature. He has been transferred many times and his latest transfer brings him to Bombay. He is soon put in charge of investigating a cold-blooded murder, the sole eye-witness of which is Mala (Priyanka Chopra). Mala has seen a man being burnt alive and she instinctively telephones the police when she sees the crime being committed.
The investigation leads Vijay Khanna to Sher Khan (Sanjay Dutt), a notorious car dealer carrying on illegal businesses, and Rudra Pratap Teja (Prakash Raj), an evil man who has varied business interests. Vijay also soon meets Mala and convinces her to help the police identify the murderer. Mala has come from the USA to attend a friend’s marriage, and is hesitant at first because she is all set to return home after the wedding. But she stays back in Vijay’s home to help the police.
Even as Vijay Khanna and Mala get romantically involved, the former realises that the cold-blooded murder had taken place as the victim was trying to expose the oil mafia for black-marketing in oil. Right at the top of the illegal business is Rudra Pratap Teja. Mala also learns about the murder of Vijay Khanna’s parents when he was just eight years old. Vijay is often haunted by the scene of his parents’ killings soon after they had celebrated his birthday one rainy night. The only thing he remembers is that the killer had a horse tattooed on his arm. It is because of this that Vijay invariably dreams of a horse and wakes up in cold sweat.
Quite early on during the investigations, Vijay Khanna becomes friendly to Sher Khan because the latter decides to give up his illegal businesses.
What happens ultimately? Does Vijay Khanna face opposition from the police force while trying to nab the culprits behind the illegal oil trade or is he given a free hand? Does Mala prove helpful? Is the murderer of the person who was trying to expose the oil mafia, caught by inspector Vijay Khanna? Does Sher Khan aid Vijay or was he playing a game? Is Vijay Khanna able to prove that Rudra Pratap Teja is the kingpin of the oil scam and is he able to mete out punishment? Who had murdered Vijay Khanna’s parents? With only the tattoo as the clue, is inspector Vijay Khanna able to trace the killer of his parents? Do Vijay Khanna and Mala unite in matrimony?
The story of the old Zanjeer has been adapted by Apoorva Lakhia and Suresh Nair. Right at the outset, it must be mentioned that the adaptation is not half as good as it ought to have been, considering that the old Zanjeer was a blockbuster and also considering that the remake is coming after 40 years!
Suresh Nair and Apoorva Lakhia have written a half-baked screenplay with absolutely no novelty. As the drama unfolds, it becomes very clear to the audience that the scenes are of the kind seen in umpteen films earlier. What’s even worse is that so many things are simply not established! For example, there is a song (qawwali) in which Sher Khan swears by his bonding with inspector Vijay Khanna (very obviously inspired by the super-hit ‘Yaari hai imaan’ song of the old Zanjeer) but no – repeat, no – attempt has been made to establish the bond of friendship between Vijay Khanna and Sher Khan. Resultantly, the song in which Sher Khan claims to be ready to lay down his life for inspector Vijay Khanna looks weird and silly. For, nobody ever makes such tall claims for an acquaintance which is what inspector Vijay Khanna is for Sher Khan.
The screenplay writers have also tried to infuse some fun element through a few comic scenes between the two deputies (Daya Shankar Pandey and Aditya Lakhia) of inspector Vijay Khanna but, unfortunately, the comedy falls flat on its face. Several scenes, turns and twists are so stale that the drama often looks straight out of the seventies and eighties! Chintan Gandhi’s dialogues are okay.
Ram Charan makes an impressive debut. He has a good physique and plays the angry young man ably. He is effective in action scenes too and dances gracefully. Priyanka Chopra performs well and shines in a couple of comic scenes. Prakash Raj makes a wonderful villain but it must also be added that he is getting typecast now. Sanjay Dutt seems to have rushed through his role and hardly makes a mark. Mahie Gill looks out of place as the moll of Rudra Pratap Teja; her performance, though, is alright. Atul Kulkarni gets limited scope but he manages to leave a mark. Daya Shankar Pandey and Aditya Lakhia act well but their comedy is meaningless. Chetan Pandit makes his presence felt in a special appearance. Capt. Bikramjeet Singh and Ankur Bhatia (as Bosco) make their marks. Kavita Kaushik and Jasmine May are okay in song-dance numbers.
Apoorva Lakhia’s direction is routine. There is nothing in the script or his narration to catch the audience’s fancy. Yes, the action scenes would impress the masses and front-benchers but that’s about all. Music (Meet Bros. Anjjan, Chirantan Bhatt and Anand Raaj Anand) is okay. The ‘Pinky’ song may be popular but it doesn’t have much of a shelf life. A couple of other songs are also okay. Lyrics (Shabbir Ahmed, Ashraf Ali and Manoj Yadav) are in keeping with the film’s mood and flavour. Song picturisations (by Ganesh Acharya, Pony Verma and Swarup-Himanshu) are commonplace but the picturisation of the ‘Pinky’ number is definitely eye-pleasing. Gururaj R. Jois’ camerawork is okay. Javed-Eijaz’s action and stunts lack novelty; also, they could’ve been more exciting. Sunil Nigvekar’s sets are okay. Chintu Singh’s editing could’ve been sharper.
On the whole, Zanjeer is a dull show which also looks dated. Except for action, that too, mainly for the mass audience, there is not much for the viewers. As such, the film’s run at the box-office will not be exciting. The Telugu version of the film has also been released simultaneously and its fate at the ticket windows may be better due to the stardom of Telugu films’ star, Ram Charan.