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1990 174’ col Hindi d Mukul S. Anand p Yash Johar pc Dharma Prod. s Santosh Saroj lyr Anand Bakshi c Pravin Bhatt m Laxmikant-Pyarelal lp Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun Chakraborty, Danny Denzongpa, Neelam, Madhavi, Rohini Hattangadi, Tinnu Anand, Archana Puran Singh, Alok Nath

The hero Vijay Chauhan aka ‘Bhai’ (Bachchan) witnesses his schoolmaster father (Nath) being falsely implicated in a scandal with a prostitute and lynched by the villagers. Bhai grows up to become a gangster and encounters the main villain Kancha Cheena (Denzongpa) in a luxurious place in Mauritius. He joins the villain’s gang only to have him arrested by the police. When Cheena is released (by arranging to have a key eyewitness killed), the hero murders Cheena after negotiating the ‘path of fire’ referred to in the film’s title. The most violent of Bachchan’s recent films, it was also the most sustained effort to rehabilitate the politically discredited star. The title and opening sequences borrow from a poem by Bachchan’s father Harivanshrai Bachchan, and show today’s New Man walking through the fires of hell to redeem a brutalised world and make it into a new utopia. The mother obsession of Bachchan’s previous films is still in evidence. In spite of Mukul Anand’s usual fast-moving camera and distorted perspectives, the film occasionally lapses into earlier cinematic idioms (e.g. the foot-stomping song picturisation of Archana Puran Singh’s Alibaba song). Anand’s familiar anachronisms suggest that very different historical epochs are ‘actually’ very similar: an exotic James Bond- type tourist resort and the blood and stench of Bombay’s gang wars. Although still playing the vigilante hero, Bachchan initially abandoned his well-known baritone voice to suggest an older man speaking in a heavy ‘Bombay Hindi’ accent, but he later had to re-dub the voice when the experiment proved unpopular. The film was not a major hit.