Agni Varsha (2002) is a Hindi movie. Arjun Sajnani has directed this movie. Jackie Shroff,Kumar Iyengar,Raveena Tandon,Nagarjuna Akkineni are the starring of this movie. It was released in 2002. Agni Varsha (2002) is considered one of the best Drama,Fantasy,Romance movie in India and around the world.
The film is Based on an incident from the Mahabharata and also made as a play on a Girish Karnad titled Fire in the Rain. The film features Amitabh Bachchan in a cameo appearance as Lord Indra. Jackie Shroff plays the main lead in the film as Puravasu the head priest, Raveena playing the role of his unfaithful wife in love with Yavakri. Nagarjuna played Yavakri the priest's jealous rival and Prabhudeva as a demon who kills Yavakri. While Milind Soman plays the younger brother of Jackie Shroff as Aravasu, the female lead opposite Milind is played by Sonali Kulkarni.
After a long drought comes this film that is not only smart and well crafted, but also different. The film boasts of a good script that is in keeping with the period - Hampi as the background looks gorgeous and the cinematography does it justice. The music is excellent and strangely fits into the narrative of this largely Art film. Arjun Sajnani, the Director has kept a firm grip on the film and has to be commended for not straying inspite of the complexities of the characters. This could easily have become a film where the Director's introspection of these powerful characters upstages the story - but Arjun Sajnani keeps the story on the tracks. Finally, the performances are simply brilliant - one has come to expect great performances from Mohan Agasay - but this has to be one of his best. Nagarjuna suprises with his evil role played to perfection. Raveena proves that she has grown as a mature performer and Jackie Shroff has given a restrained performance. Prabhudeva has given an eye-opening performance as the Rakshas. The real find of the movie is Milind Soman whose sensitive potrayal of Aravasu is really the heart of the story. Soman as an actor is more often than not shackled by his Greek God looks - but in this movie his performance is so perfect that you leave thinking about the naive Aravasu - a helpless innocent. Milind and Sonali Kulkarni carry the movie with their performances as two innocent lovers caught inadvertently in circumstances wrought by basic, destructive human emotions. This movie is a must-see for cinema lovers. One of those rare Indian mythologicals that refuses to play to the typical category that most mythologicals are slotted into. I thought it did justice to both the play ' Fire and Rain' by Girish Karnad and also to the medium of cinema where it has been adopted.
Beginning with a request to stage a play with a cast including that of the outcast Brahmin brother of the high priest after a 7 year drought and ending with said play, Agni Varsha is a splendid Bollywood production where numerous motifs thread in and out of the story, having for me, anyway, a decidedly Shakespearean flavor. Elements of Romeo and Juliet, the thought that "the fault is not in the stars but in ourselves" and other Shakespearean themes perfuse the story(ies). But as Goethe said, "Everything's been thought of before; the trouble is to think of it again." Whether the thoughts first came in Indian literature or Shakespeare is irrelevant. It's sometimes difficult for me to get into a film when I'm at a low energy level, but this film's energy buoyed me right along. There's nothing like a good Bollywood musical to take your mind of trivial worries of the day:)
In these days of paper-thin plots and the MTV-inspired pastiche that passes of as 'style' you seriously wonder if you'd ever again get to see a reasonably thoughtful, cultured film; and then a film like 'Agni Varsha' drops into view. I must say I was expecting to be very disappointed, that it'd be a half-baked venture with a few sops. But man, was I wrong. The film isn't flawless and some of the bad patches are serious, but it has a genuine thought process and its heart is in the right place Raveena Tandon immerses herself into the sensuous Vishaka and, given her past body of work, comes across as stunning, yes, positively stunning. Director Sajnani comes across splendidly in most part, with a feel for the genuinely dramatic element and a fearless use of erudite symbolism. The film harks back in spirit to Benegal's "Bharat -Ek Khoj" serial where multiple techniques were used, blending cinematic and theatrical elements into a meaningful whole. A few failings, mainly in the spirit of enhancing the film's commercial value, but still what vision!
The first major Indian motion picture to have been "showered" with praise by the American media (with raves from the New York Times and L.A. Times) is quite worthy of the acclaim it has received. Adapted from a play, (which was derived from the Hindu epic the Mahabharata) Sajnani's film is for those who can look beyond the action on screen and deduce various ideas and philosophies from the story being told. The film is loaded with symbolism and deeper meaning, and manages to raise quite a few provocative questions about divinity and society. The other great attraction here, besides the allegorical plot, is the cinematography. The entire film has been set to celluloid by the camera of Anil Mehta (who has previously helmed the lavish Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and the epic, Oscar nominated LAGAAN: Once Upon A Time in India). A famous and attractive historical site in India (the temple ruins of Hampi) is portrayed fantastically in the film by Mehta. His wide-angle panoramic scenes must been seen to be believed. Other aspects of the film are just about alright. Performances are functional, but Sajnani seems to have been torn as to whether he wanted his characters to be completely melodramatic and stage-like or somewhat restrained. As a result, the actors deliver very confused expressions and dialogs throughout the film. Still, actors Jackie Shroff and Raveena Tandon manage to leave quite an impact in their roles. The show-stealer, however, is screen legend Amitabh Bachan. His 'divine' little role is the one that will linger in the cine-goers mind long after its two hour duration comes to an end. The song-and-dance sequences provide a fine break from the dramatics of the film, but one or two of the songs could have been cut. Background music is pretty well done, but the same cannot be said of the special effects. Despite the merits of the film, I can't help but feel the film could have managed a much stronger impact if Sajnani had opted for a less linear mode of story telling. Something similar to Tarantino's Pulp Fiction could have worked wonders for the film. As it is now, the film is pretty convoluted and has some continuity and pacing issues. Editing is the film's most glaring shortcoming. In any case, the film is a worthy effort from India and worth a watch. I would especially recommend it to those who are interested in Hindu theology or philosophy.