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Karan Johar on what made him decide to remake his dad’s film
Upala KBR (BOMBAY TIMES; January 26, 2012)
Yash Johar made Agneepath, starring Amitabh Bachchan, 22 years ago. Today, son Karan is releasing the remake of the film. In a chat, he tells BT why the film is so special to him.
What made you remake Agneepath?
It has been on my mind ever since dad’s film released 22 years ago. My father was very disillusioned with the commercial outcome of the original, even though the film garnered plenty of critical acclaim. Dad had pinned a lot of hopes on it as the previews had been full of praise, but when the film didn’t do well at the box office it broke his heart. Dad always wanted to remake it. One day Karan (Malhotra), who was my associate director on My Name Is Khan, and I were chatting when I told him about dad’s desire to make it again. Karan told me he was a huge fan of the original so I asked him if he would revisit it again. He agreed immediately.
Why didn’t you direct it yourself?
I am incapable of directing a film like Agneenath. I can do only what I am good at, so I would have been the worst choice to direct it. It has aggression, action and an inherent violence in it — things I am not capable of directing in my films. Karan is an exceptionally talented and angry boy, and for this film one requirement was anger. There’s an inherent sense of suppressed anger in Karan and Agneepath was the platform to express that.
Do you have any special memories of the original film?
I was 18 years old then and in college. I remember dad had a trial show for all his close friends, including Yash (Chopra) uncle and Javed (Akhtar) uncle. Farhan and Zoya Akhtar, Hrithik Roshan, Aditya Chopra and I sat on the floor of Ajanta theatre watching it with mom and dad. All the boys loved the film. Adi told me that dad had produced a superb film. When I expressed my apprehensions about it doing well, Adi told me not to worry about that. he said, ‘Yash uncle has produced a great film and you should be happy about that.’ My father was very proud at all the screenings as the audience would stand up and applaud. I remember his face being full of joy and pride at the compliments. He was like a proud parent, so when the commercial success didn’t live up to that a part of him just broke. I want to resurrect that part again.
Who is your favourite character — Vijay Dinanath Chauhan or Kancha Cheena?
Karan Malhotra! He’s made it everyone’s film. I would want everyone to accept the love that has gone into the making of the film.