Much has been said about Girish Karnadâ€™s play â€śThe Fire and the Rain.â€ť So much so that Arjun Sajnani, who directed its stage version, decided to mount this subplot of the Mahabharata onto celluloid. The thick plot of this film boasts of epic scale potential. However, Sajnani, who apparently struck gold with its stage version, goes so haywire with it on screen, that it is merely reduced to a production that is at best, laughable for all the wrong reasons.
â€śAgni Varshaâ€ť could serve as a case study in film schools to explain why the director is (or rather should be) such a crucial part of the filmmaking process. Sajnani is handed a very impressive team on a silver platter, but is clueless as to how to use it. To begin with, there is cinematographer Anil Mehta (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Lagaan) who has proven that mounting simple stories like â€śLagaanâ€ť and â€śHDDCSâ€ť to epic proportions is childâ€™s play for him. For his leading lady, there is Raveena Tandon who is still radiating in the glory of her national award. Supporting her is a big name â€“ Jackie Shroff. To put the icing on the cake, he has Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. When it becomes painful to stand even this great man on screen, one can just imagine how bad the film really is!
The screenplay co-written by Sajnani, T. Jayashree, and Anil Mehta, contains too many characters and subplots that pop out of nowhere. The script is also devoid of any logic whatsoever. Besides relying on age-old clichĂ©s, the writers seem to forget the nature of the scenes that they are writing, within that scene itself. For example, while Aravasu (Soman) and Nittilai (Kulkarni) discuss the pains of the caste system, Aravasu, out of nowhere decides to let go of the conversation and impersonate a buffalo. Wake up people!!!
Raveena Tandon â€“ I find it hard to criticize her. But please! Somebody teach her some script sense. Married to Paravasu (Shroff), her character Vishaka is absolutely confused, being an adulterous on one occasion, and claiming to be a â€śpavitraâ€ť wife on the other.
Jackie Shroff â€“ Paravasu is another confused soul. He begins by performing a sacrifice to bring rain to the parched land, then suddenly kills his father, has his brother Aravasu beaten to pulp, and finally repents by entering the pyre. None of the reasons provided to desperately justify Paravasuâ€™s actions come even close to being convincing.
Milind Somanâ€“ Aravasu really is a scared, cowardly, confused chicken. Milind Soman looks equally scared, cowardly, and confused trying to play this character. His dialogue delivery and facial expressions are so bad that the audience was in splits every time he spoke. But hey, you know what? I actually did find one part in the film where his performance was simply outstanding â€“ The part where he lies unconscious and does absolutely NOTHING after getting beaten up!!!
The less said about the remainder of the cast, the better. Mohan Agashe, Sonali Kulkarni, Prabhudeva, and Raghuvir Yadav are wasted. The climax of the film where the Big B appears in a cameo as Lord Indra makes you want to drill a hole in your head. The pre-release hype of â€śAgni Varshaâ€ť boasted of special effects done in Australia. Special Effects??? Are you kidding me? I could draw more realistic looking images holding a pencil between my toes! Not only is this movie a waste of immense talent, it is also a shameful waste of precious 35mm film. If I were to pick one enjoyable portion of this particular movie-viewing experience, it would be the trailer of Ramgopal Varmaâ€™s â€śRoadâ€ť during the intermission.