Pushkar and Gayatri, filmmakers who helmed the creation of the 2017 Tamil movie, Vikram Vedha, have gone ahead and delivered a Bollywood version. This time, starring Saif Ali Khan and Hrithik Roshan in lead roles as Vikram and Vedha respectively. Two A-list, good-looking actors with indisputable acting chops coming together already makes this movie one garnering a lot of buzz.
However, when you take something that has already been loved and give it an update, it has to be way better for you to give it a nod. For instance, if you dearly love that hot cup of morning chai that your mom makes every day, you must know exactly how she makes it and you probably have a favourite mug to sip it from. Now imagine—one fine day, instead of your regular cup, she gives you tea in the finest China (from the collection that she keeps reserved for very esteemed guests, such as members of the royal family) and you are forced to have your chai at the dining table instead of the balcony. Bummer, right?
Just like the culinary world, cinema too comes with a lot of flavours and leaves a taste in our minds giving us much food for thought.
Vikram Vedha is a fantastic film. I’m talking about the original 2017 Tamil picture that features R Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi which is the source material on which this Friday’s latest release is based. Does the same recipe, taste better if served on a fancier platter? Sometimes it does add to the appeal but in this case, it doesn’t.
The underlying theme of the movie is all about how the lines between the good and the bad blur, which extends to how I feel about the film. I was pretty clear with the good and bad takeaways from the movie. Let’s start with the bad.
To begin with, the 2022 film will certainly make one want to watch the Tamil version, which is great considering it amplifies the reach of the very talented south Indian film industry. Pushkar and Gayatri have made the Khan-Roshan starrer a frame-by-frame replica. There’s certainly no scope for error considering how good the original was.
So what went wrong? The treatment—yes, we do get that things will be larger-than-life in Bollywood when it comes to remakes. The action will be on a grander scale, dialogues will be tweaked to appeal to the masses and possibly garner several whistles from them! For starters (I’m back to the food references again), we expected Vedha to have a superior and wicked mind. He was all brain and not brawn. That’s what made Sethupathi stand out in the original. He didn’t have the biceps and abs. What he had was the cunningness to always get the better of Vikram. Over here, it’s Roshan’s Herculean-built that does the talking. I am sure it makes for amazing visuals but that’s not the character sketch we had in mind, right? Vedha needed the focus to be on the sharp mind rather than a chiseled body.
As far as Khan as Vijay is concerned, it seems that he’s just trying too hard to be the nice guy here. On the other hand, you knew that in the Tamil movie, Vijay wasn’t exactly the holier-than-thou policeman. Despite having actors of such great calibre, the character sketch and development fail to deliver. The antagonist should end up being the one that audiences love to hate which validates that you’ve done a very good job. Neither Vikram nor Vedha as characters were able to evoke such emotion from the audiences. Despite it being a film of more than two and a half hours, we don’t get into the psyche of the characters as much as we did in the original. The rest of the cast doesn’t give us much to think about, after the movie either. Same ingredients, but certainly a different taste.
That said, there’s a lot in Vikram Vedha that’s really impressive. The setting of the movie comes to the fore as the cities of Lucknow and Kanpur are showcased in all their glory. Right from the dialect to the food, one would certainly love the local flavour that stands out in the film. Watching Roshan shake a leg in style for Alcoholia is a sight for sore eyes. Add to that, watching Khan and Roshan share screen space after two decades (jog your memory a bit—it was in Na Tum Jaano Na Hum) is an absolute treat. This is a movie that tells you exactly why it’s great to have not one superstar, but two, in the lead role. If you’ve not watched the original version, then the change may not bother you and their stellar performances will keep you glued to your seats.
But if you are a fan of the OG movie like I am, you’ll realise that some things are best enjoyed in all their simplicity.