Agneepath (1990 film)

Agneepath (English: The Path of Fire) is a 1990 Indian Hindi-language action-drama film[2][3] directed by Mukul Anand. It stars Amitabh Bachchan with Mithun Chakraborty, Madhavi, Neelam Kothari, Rohini Hattangadi and Danny Denzongpa. The film was produced by Yash Johar.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byMukul S. Anand
Produced byYash Johar
Screenplay bySantosh Saroj
Kader Khan
Story bySantosh Saroj
StarringAmitabh Bachchan
Mithun Chakraborty
Neelam Kothari
Danny Denzongpa
Rohini Hattangadi
Alok Nath
Music by
CinematographyPravin Bhatt
Edited byWaman Bhonsle
Distributed byDharma Productions (India)
Warner Bros. (US VHS only)
TriStar Pictures (US DVD and Blu-ray)
Release date
  • 16 February 1990 (1990-02-16)
Running time
174 minutes
Box office102.5 million (US$1.4 million)[1]

The film was inspired by the life of Mumbai gangster Manya Surve.[4] The title was taken from a poem of the same name called 'Agneepath'[5] 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 into a strong cult film over the years. It is considered a milestone in Bachchan's career, and in the league of his all-time highly successful movies. Amitabh Bachchan received his first National Film Award for Best Actor at the 38th National Film Awards for his performance. At the 36th Filmfare Awards, Mithun Chakraborty and Rohini Hattangadi won the Best Supporting Actor and the Best Supporting Actress respectively. The film, despite being the 4th highest-grosser of 1990, had collections way below its high budget, and thus, the film recorded as a flop at the box-office. The film was remade in 2012 with the same title, by Johar's son Karan Johar, as a tribute to his father.


Much-loved village schoolmaster Dinanath Chavan (Alok Nath) strongly opposes the plans of Kancha Cheena, an underworld don (Danny Dengzongpa) and his band of gangsters to set up a base for heroin smuggling. After being discredited in a set-up scandal and lynched by the manipulated villagers to death, his family is evicted and made destitute much to Cheena's advantage. Swearing revenge over his father's murder and the attempted rape of his mother Suhasini Chavan (Rohini Hattangadi) gone unpunished, and with a burning desire to clear his father's name, his son Vijay Dinanath Chavan (Amitabh Bachchan) takes on the responsibilities of caring for his mother and sister Siksha (Neelam) that, by a strange twist of fate, cause him to become a gangster in his own right. Working his way up the ladder and attaining notoriety as an underworld kingpin, Vijay suffers an assassination attempt by fellow gangsters after he refuses to co-operate with their drug-smuggling operations. Left to die, he is discovered by a Tamilian coconut vendor Krishnan Iyer M.A. (Mithun Chakraborty) who transports him to hospital and saves his life, becoming his friend and eventually finding employment as Siksha's bodyguard. During his time in hospital, Vijay is cared for by Nurse Mary Matthew (Madhavi).

Vijay avenges his assassination attempt by killing the assassins one by one, but his mother strongly disapproves of his murderous and gangster tendencies and drives him away from home after chastising him for dirtying the good name of his father. Vijay, hurt and upset, seeks solace in Mary's arms and begins a relationship with her. Siksha is then kidnapped and held in a slum by a gangster who wants to avenge the death of his associates killed by Vijay, and an unsuccessful rescue attempt by Krishnan ends up with the two of them brawling. Vijay hears of this and arrives to kill the gangster in a fit of rage. But this close encounter between Krishnan and Siksha causes a growing intimacy between the two of them and they fall in love with each other. Vijay is outraged and strongly protests against the relationship to his mother, but is rebuffed again when his mother disowns him a second time and considers Krishnan her "good son". Stung and deeply hurt by this slight, he again seeks solace in Mary and later marries her and resolves to do things "in the right way" to gain his mother's favour.

After cutting a deal with Kancha Cheena to allow him access into his old village, Vijay sets in motion a number of strategies that undercut Cheena's criminal operations and gain him the legal ownership of the village. Revenge is a dish best served cold as Vijay informs Cheena of his identity as the son of Dinanath Chavan, lands Cheena in jail and arranges for Cheena's associates to testify against him in court. Vijay returns the village to his mother and finds himself back in her favour, but Cheena ensures his release by arranging for the witnesses to be gunned down and Vijay's family to be kidnapped and held hostage. This is the last straw for Vijay who is forced to return to his criminal ways and to walk the "Path of Fire" in order to rescue them. An almighty struggle takes place as Cheena bombs every building and demolishes the whole village before he is killed by Vijay's bare hands. But Vijay does not survive; he dies of a bullet wound in the lap of his mother at the site of his old house. His mother realises that everything Vijay had done until then had been for the ultimate purpose of restoring the good name of Dinanath Chavan, and she weeps over his body piteously along with Krishnan, Siksha and Mary.



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 Chauhan's bloodlust and ferocity.[6] The film was inspired by the life of Mumbai gangster Manya Surve.[7] The film utilised a lot of dark distortions in the imagery, which were a common theme in some gangster films.[8] Mithun Chakraborty's unique role of Krishnan Iyer was inspired by one of his roommates of his struggling days, before he became a popular film star. In his struggling days, Chakraborty used to share a room with Devio who used to pay 150 Rupees while Chakraborty used to pay 75 Rupees. Devio had the 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 Bachchan.[8] The film was shot extensively in Bombay in several locations such as Andheri, Goregaon, and Colaba.[9] The locations and the photography drew positive feedback from critics.[10]


When it was first released, Agneepath was a flop, both at the box office as well as among the critics.Karan Johar recounts in an interview how younger city-based audiences thought it was a cool film.[11] "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.[10] 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.'s review of Agneepath suggested that perhaps, the grim, violent, aggressive, and dark portrayal of the underbelly of Bombay's underworld had worked against the film.[12]

However, the National Film Award for Best Actor being bestowed on Amitabh Bachchan changed the perspective in which the film was appreciated. Over the years, favorable reviews trickling in made Agneepath a cult classic. Currently, Agneepath has been rated 7.7 on a scale of 10 in the Internet Movie Database by 7,555 users.[13] In review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 93% of 715 user ratings favour the movie.[14] 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."[15] 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, 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. 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 sword fights in the middle of a festival."[16] The movie's review in, mentioned that: "Agneepath, despite its amplified sentimentality, strong language and violence works on account of this very dynamism. "[17]

Box officeEdit

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 and so despite being among the top grossers of the year the film was a flop.[citation needed]


All music is composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal and Jean Michel Jarre.

1."Kisko Tha Pata"SP Balasubramanyam, Alka Yagnik 
2."I Am Krishnan Iyer M. A."SP Balasubramanyam 
3."Ali Baba Mil Gaye Chalis Choron Se"Runa Laila, Aadesh Shrivastava[18] 
4."Ganpati Apne Gaon Chale"Sudesh Bhosle, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Anupama Deshpande 

The film featured great background music, but songs were rather not exciting[neutrality is disputed]. 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. The lyrics were penned by Anand Bakshi.


Year Nominee / 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.[19] 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, to 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.[20] 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.[21] Other members of the cast include Om Puri and Zarina Wahab[22] 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.[23] According to review aggregator Review Gang, professional critics have given the film a rating of 6.5 stars out of 10.[24] The film did fantastic business at the box office and entered the 100 crore club.

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


  1. ^ "Box office 1990". Box office india. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Ten revenge dramas from Bollywood". Archived from the original on 14 December 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  3. ^ No one can dare emulate Amitabh Bachchan: Karan Johar
  4. ^
  5. ^ Sayuj, Riku (1 February 2012). "Agneepath (अग्निपथ) – A poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan". Wandering Mirages. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  6. ^ "Moviediva: Hindi Movie Reviews; Agneepath(1990)". Moviediva. Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b "IMDB-Agneepath: Trivia". IMDB. Archived from the original on 8 April 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Agneepath (1990) - filming locations". 19 April 2015. Archived from the original on 19 April 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Blast from the Past: A review of the 1990 Mukul Anand's Agneepath, by Komal Nahta". Koimoi. Archived from the original on 31 January 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  11. ^ Johan, Karan. "Interview with Karan Johan : Indu Mirani". YouTube. The Boss Dialogues. Archived from the original on 5 November 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  12. ^ "Revisiting Amitabh Bachchan's Agneepath (Slide 1)". Rediff Movies. 10 February 2012. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012.
  13. ^ "IMDb: Agneepath(1990)". IMDB. Archived from the original on 30 March 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes: Agneepath(1990)-Amitabh Bachchan". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 31 January 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  15. ^ "Sanjay Dutt praises Amitabh's Agneepath: Bollywooders". Bollywooders. Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  16. ^ "Illuminated Lantern: A blog describing the heart of South Asian Cinema-Agneepath(1990) directed by Mukul.S.Anand". Illuminated Lantern. Archived from the original on 23 February 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2007.
  17. ^ " Amitabh Bachchan's Agneepath(Slide 3)". Rediff. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  18. ^ "Ali Baba Mil Gaye Chalis Choron Se Lyrics". LyricsMotion. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  19. ^ "Agneepath broke my father's heart: Karan Johar". The Times of India. 26 January 2012. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  20. ^ "Sanjay Dutt is the bad man now". MidDay. Archived from the original on 17 June 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  21. ^ "Rishi to do a 'looks test' for Agneepath". Mumbai Mirror. Archived from the original on 9 January 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  22. ^ "Zarina to star in Agneepath remake". Asianage. Archived from the original on 13 January 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  23. ^ "Box Office 2012". Box Office India. Archived from the original on 19 April 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  24. ^ "Agneepath review". Reviewgang. Archived from the original on 13 April 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2012.

External linksEdit