Agneepath (1990 film)

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For the remake film, see Agneepath (2012 film). For the TV series, see Agneepath (TV series).
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mukul S. Anand
Produced by Yash Johar
Screenplay by Santosh Saroj
Kader Khan
Story by Santosh Saroj
Starring Master Manjunath
Amitabh Bachchan
Mithun Chakraborty
Neelam Kothari
Danny Denzongpa
Rohini Hattangadi
Alok Nath
Music by
Cinematography Pravin Bhatt
Edited by Waman Bhonsle
Distributed by Dharma Productions (India)
Warner Bros. (US VHS only)
TriStar Pictures (US DVD and Bluray)
Release dates
  • 16 February 1990 (1990-02-16) (India)
Running time
174 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget 285.6 million (US$4.2 million)
Box office 102.5 million (US$1.5 million)[1]

Agneepath (English: The Path of Fire) is a 1990 Indian action drama film directed by Mukul Anand. It stars Amitabh Bachchan as the protagonist Vijay Deenanath Chavan along with Mithun Chakraborty, Madhavi, Neelam Kothari, Rohini Hattangadi and Danny Denzongpa as the antagonist Kancha Cheena. The film was produced by Yash Johar0.

The title was taken from a poem of the same name called 'Agneepath'[2] which was penned by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Amitabh's father, and which is recited at the beginning of the movie and creates a thematic link that continues through the movie, particularly in the climax, both literally and metaphorically.

Agneepath has grown a strong cult film over the years. Bachchan and Chakraborty received the National Film Award for Best Actor and Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award respectively for their performances. The film was remade in 2012 with the same title, by Johar's son Karan Johar, as a tribute to his father. The film, despite being the tenth highest-grosser of 1990, had collections way below its high budget, and thus, the film recorded as flop at the box-office.


The film begins with a morally upright and honest Gandhian Schoolmaster, Deenanath Chavan (Alok Nath), teaching his son, Vijay Deenanath Chavan about a poem, 'Agneepath', which describes 'The Path of Fire' which a man must cross in his life. This theme becomes an integral part of the story. Master Deenanath is a well-loved person, who wishes to bring education to the village, Mandwa. However, his wish is not shared by a corrupt jamindar, Dinkar Rao (Goga Kapoor).

One day, as Vijay and his friends play about near Rao's house, a man named Kancha Cheena (Danny Denzongpa) arrives at the house, and Rao hands over some papers to him, which, Rao tells him, are the Title Deeds of all the Villagers' homes. Kancha's plans are revealed then: he wishes to make Mandwa a centre for his drugs trade, as he wishes to rule a place where the laws are lax and is not on the map of India. Dinkar Rao mentions that the schoolmaster is a huge hindrance to their plans, whereupon Cheena tells Rao that he must kill the schoolmaster, or Rao will suffer the consequences. With the aid of the owner of a brothel, Chandabai, Dinkar Rao lures the schoolmaster into the brothel. The villagers assume that the schoolmaster is an immoral hypocrite who solicits prostitution, and they beat him to death. The schoolmaster dies while cradling his son and reciting the poem, "Agneepath".

Vijay's mother is devastated, and the image of the schoolmaster is so tarnished that 12-year-old Vijay had to carry his corpse to the cemetery on a cart. The family leaves for Mumbai to begin life anew. There, Vijay does odd jobs to earn for his family. It is also there that he learns about the harsher truths of life. He burns down a Petrol pump because the owner of the Petrol pump tried to rape his Mother. Vijay is caught in the act by Inspector Gaitonde, who tries to redeem the boy. He is then hired by four of Kancha's enemies.

Then we see an older Vijay (Amitabh Bachan), 36 years old, now a gangster with a drawling, raspy voice and stylish gait, who works for four of Kancha Cheena's enemies, namely Terelin, Shetty, Usman Bhai and another. Vijay slowly eliminates his bosses and works his way up the echelons of crime, becoming a feared and reputed gangster in Mumbai. Then Vijay tries to cut a deal with Kancha, and gradually brings about his Empire's downfall. However, in an action-packed climax sequence, Kancha holds Vijay's wife, Mary, his sister and his mother hostage, and challenges him to a showdown, daring him to cross a rubble-laden, path of fire. In spite of being shot twice, Vijay kills Kancha. In an emotional sequence, Vijay drags his mother to the remains of their old house in the village, now a smoldering pile of brick, reciting "Agneepath". Vijay passes away, with his head on his Mother's lap, culminating in an emotional end, in which Vijay's mother remarks to the end, "My son is not a gangster. He is not a gangster."



A characteristic feature of the movie was the dark undertones and the grim atmosphere of the film, which was unusual for any of Amitabh Bachchan's films. It was noted that the film was "grim" due to the protagonist, Vijay Chavan's bloodlust and ferocity.[3] The film utilised a lot of dark distortions in the imagery, which were a common theme in some Gangster Films.[4] Mithun Chakraborty's unique role of Krishnan Iyer was inspired by one of his room mates of his struggling days, before he become a popular film star. In his struggling days Chakraborty used to be room sharing with Devio who used to pay 150 Rupees while Chakraborty Used to pay 75 Rupees. Devio had the a bed while Chakraborty used to sleep on the floor, one specific time Chakraborty used his bed whilst he was at work and when Devio came back he scolded Chakraborty. This incident remained with Chakraborty and he put Devio's character on screen. Tinnu Anand, who played the role of the Village Drunkard, shaved his head to obtain the age difference between him and Amitabh Bachchan.[4] The film was shot extensively in Mumbai in several locations such as Andheri, Goregaon, and Colaba.[5] The locations and the photography drew positive feedback from critics.[6]


When released, Agneepath was a failure, both at the box office as well as among the critics. However, Karan Johar recounts in an interview how younger city based audiences thought it was a cool film.[7] "Over the top, inane songs", dialogues "veering towards melodrama" and, more importantly, Amitabh Bachchan's experimentation with his voice did not go well with the masses and the critics alike. Film Trade Analyst Komal Nahta wrote thus about Bachchan's voice, : "But the biggest undoing of the film is Amitabh Bachchan’s voice. He has spoken the dialogue in a different voice (inspired by Marlon Brando in The Godfather) which will not be accepted by the audience. Further the mixing not being clear, his dialogues are incomprehensible at places." He further wrote that the film lacked a gripping drama, well-set script, and that even the Murder scenes lacked excitement.[6] Satish Naidu in his review noted that the narrative had a slow pace in the last hour. Another fact that worked against the advantage of the film was its weak story. Rediff's review of Agneepath suggested that perhaps, the grim, violent, aggressive and dark portrayal of the underbelly of Mumbai's underworld had worked against the film.[8]

However, the National Award for the best actor being bestowed on Amitabh Bachchan changed the perspective in which the film was appreciated. Over the years, favourable reviews trickling in made Agneepath a cult classic. Currently, Agneepath has been rated 7.5 by on a scale of 10 in the Internet Movie Database by 1,723 users.[9] In review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 90% of 641 user ratings favour the movie.[10] Sanjay Dutt, the actor who plays Kancha Cheena's role in the remake praised the film saying that it was well ahead of its time when asked about the original film-

“I loved the original film and if I was the whole of audience, I would have made it a big hit. I think may be the film was too ahead of times. Mukul is a brilliant director and his vision was so much ahead of his time.”[11]

Satish Naidu commented in his blog that Agneepath's direction, camera work and cinematography "had some serious physicality going for the film[there]". He further drove home his opinion, describing the betrayal of a certain "undeveloped terrain below" by the jagged, staccato-like movements of the camera work. Further, Mr.Naidu praised the way in which Mukul Anand portrayed Amitabh Bachchan in the film. An interesting aspect of the film was its cinematography, handled by Pravin Bhatt, which has been described as "marvelous" due to the "beautiful scenes shot in Mauritius. It is worth noting that the ship bombing scene was executed well, and that the portrayal of the picturesque scenery of trees and fields in full bloom(in the songs, especially) met with rave reviews. Movie Reviewer Peter Nepstad in his blog, the "Illuminated Lantern" wrote that:

"Agneepath is deliriously melodramatic. The first thirty minutes, the prologue of the film if you will, in the village of his youth, ranks among the best openings of any Bollywood film I've ever seen. Afterwards, when most Bollywood films crank it down for some syrupy romance or goofy comedy, Agneepath plops its adult protagonist right in the middle of a gang fight. Often a film has a great set piece at the beginning, then deflates by the end, but Agneepath continues amping up the conflict from beginning to end, from riots in a village to riots in a city to mudfights in the slums to swordfights in the middle of a festival."[12]

The movie's review in, mentioned that,

"Agneepath, despite its amplified sentimentality, strong language and violence works on account of this very dynamism. "[13]

Box office[edit]

According to trade website Box Office India, the gross collection of the movie was Rs 10,25,00,000, way below the film's budget of Rs 28,56,00,000. Thus, despite being the tenth top grosser of the year 1990, the movie was a disaster at the box office.[14]


All music composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal, Jean Michel Jarre.

No. Title Playback Length
1. "Ali Baba Mil Gaye Chalis Choron Se"   Runa Laila  
2. "I Am Krishnan Iyer M. A."   SP Balasubramanyam  
3. "Ganpati Apne Gaon Chale"   Sudesh Bhosle, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Anupama Deshpande  
4. "Kisko Tha Pata"   SP Balasubramanyam, Alka Yagnik  

Rather unusually, for a Bollywood film of the time, a West African track was used in the film. Guinean singer Mory Kanté's hit Yé ké yé ké appears in the film, but is not on the soundtrack.


Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
1990 Amitabh Bachchan National Film Award for Best Actor Won
Mithun Chakraborty Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor Won
Rohini Hattangadi Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress Won


In an interview with The Times of India, Karan Johar explained that he had the intention of remaking the original Agneepath ever since the film released 22 years ago, because according to him, the failure of the film broke his father's heart.[15] The idea of the remake materialised on the sets of Johar's film My Name Is Khan in which Karan Malhotra was an associate director. Johar told Malhotra his desire to remake the original film and asked him to revisit it again for which he agreed immediately.

Hrithik Roshan played the lead role of Vijay Deenanath Chauhan and Sanjay Dutt plays the role of the antagonist Kancha Cheena.[16] Priyanka Chopra was the female lead. The character of Krishnan Iyer played by Mithun Chakraborty in the original was removed and Rishi Kapoor played a newly introduced negative character, Rauf Lala.[17] Other members of the cast include Om Puri and Zarina Wahab[18] among others.

Shooting of the film mostly took place in Diu and Mumbai's film city. Originally slated for release on 20 January, Agneepath was postponed by a week to 26 January 2012. Unlike the original, the remake opened to positive responses from critics and the audience. Agneepath collected Rs 217.5 million (US$4.34 million) on the opening day.[19] According to review aggregator Review Gang, professional critics have given the film a rating of 6.5 stars out of 10.[20] The film did fantastic business at the box office and entered in 100 crore club.

The film was also modified and remade in Tamil as Sivasakthi, starring Sathyaraj and Prabhu Ganesan directed by Suresh Krissna.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Sayuj, Riku (1 February 2012). "Agneepath (अग्निपथ) – A poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan". Wandering Mirages. Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  3. ^ [1] Moviediva: Hindi Movie Reviews; Agneepath(1990)
  4. ^ a b [2] IMDB-Agneepath: Trivia
  5. ^ [3] IMDB-Agneepath: Filming Locations. Some of the studios have been listed, and in total, Eight Locations have been mentioned.
  6. ^ a b [4] Blast from the Past: A review of the 1990 Mukul Anand's Agneepath, by Komal Nahta
  7. ^ Johan, Karan. "Interview with Karan Johan : Indu Mirani". You Tube. The Boss Dialogues. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  8. ^ [5] Amitabh Bachchan's Agneepath(Slide 1)
  9. ^ [6] IMDb: Agneepath(1990)
  10. ^ [7] Rotten Tomatoes: Agneepath(1990)-Amitabh Bachchan
  11. ^ [8] Sanjay Dutt praises Amitabh's Agneepath: Bollywooders
  12. ^ [9] Illuminated Lantern: A blog describing the heart of South Asian Cinema-Agneepath(1990) directed by Mukul.S.Anand
  13. ^ [10] Amitabh Bachchan's Agneepath(Slide 3)
  14. ^ [11] 4th Biggest Grosser
  15. ^ "Agneepath broke my father's heart: Karan Johar". The Times of India. 26 January 2012. 
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