Critic's Rating: 17/5
Saturday 31 August 2002
Jackie, Raveena, Nagarjuna, Milind, Sonali K
After long comes a film that is so thoroughly researched and well crafted that it manages to generate interest despite its unusual genre and slow pace. Director Arjun Sajnani?s Agni Varsha is set against the backdrop of a drought-ravaged land, where High Priest, Paravasu (Jackie Shroff) conducts a grand fire sacrifice to appease Lord Indra (Amitabh Bachchan). Produced by iDreams, this historical comes at a time when very few movies are being made based on such themes. Based on the acclaimed Girish Karnad play ?The Fire And The Rain?, the film`s story is based on the legend of Yavakri, a subplot derived from the Mahabharata.
The story- Paravasu`s cousin and bitter rival Yavakri (Nagarjuna) is resentful of Paravasu`s position as High Priest and seeks revenge by seducing his abandoned wife Vishakha (Raveena Tandon). Arvasu (Milind Soman), Paravasu`s younger brother, is in love with a tribal girl Nittilai (Sonali Kulkarni). He is all set to defy his family and marry her, but the devious manipulations of those around him embroils him in a battle for supremacy that leads to the inexorable end. Raibhya (Mohan Agashe), Paravasu`s father, wreaks his own vengeance on Yavakri by unleashing upon him a demon, the Rakshasa (Prabhu Deva), setting off an irrevocable chain of events.
Sajnani has tried something unusual and that is where he scores. Having co-written the script with T. Jayshree and Anil Mehta who is also the film?s cinematographer, Sajnani?s eye for production detailing is commendable. Also, he has managed to draw excellent performances from most of his cast. Even though the film does have a few confusing sub-plots, it still manages to hold the viewer with the sheer impact of its poetic frames. The songs are where he has gone wrong, as they are out of place and jarring. But otherwise he has managed to create an on-screen ambience, which make the historic happenings very easy to decipher. Cinematographer Anil Mehta is in top form, capturing the ruins of Hampibeautifully on screen. All the actors including Jackie Shroff (very effective and collected), Raveena Tandon (very beautiful and impressive), Nagarjuna (lookinghandsome), Amitabh Bachchan (short but strong role), Milind Soman (his best performance to date), Sonali Kulkarni (expressive), Prabhu Deva (interesting towatch) and Mohan Agashe and Raghuvir Yadav are at their best. Credit goes to the director for having achieved this feat. Otherwise, even though the pre-interval happenings are more interesting than the post-interval slow moments, Agnivarsha manages to hold its own because it is a film made with creative interests more than for commercial gains. But sadly that is very much what will go against the film, as it looks more like an international festival film than a mass movie. Agnivarsha is sure to be appreciated by lovers of serious cinema but will find the going tough with the frontbenchers, who are sure to stay away from this tale of treachery.