- Release Date: 15/07/2022
- Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Sanya Malhotra, Milind Gunaji, Akhil Iyer
- Director: Dr. Sailesh Kolanu
HIT: The First Case is an official remake of the Telugu HIT: The First Case released in 2020 and starring Vishwak Sen as the protagonist. The Hindi remake is also directed by Dr. Sailesh Kolanu who directed the original. Apart from a minor and inconsequential change to the motivation of the killer at the very end of the film, the plot remains exactly the same as the original. The screenplay follows the original frame for frame with only the different actors bringing their respective interpretations of the characters.
This has always been my belief that a remake of a well-done original should only be attempted if there was an opportunity to add something new to the tale or probably improve it with better performances and subtle but meaningful additions. This is where HIT: The First Case failed miserably for me. It is a film that neither adds anything new to the original nor improves it in any way. Yes, there are certain things that I liked about the film but then when you have the original streaming on Amazon Prime Video, there remains no need to take the trouble of watching this film in theaters.
Rajkummar Rao’s scintillating Performance
Speaking of all that I liked about this film, Rajkummar Rao will definitely be the first and foremost. This man sure knows how to make a character his own. I just loved the chaos and sense of claustrophobia and discomfort that he brought to the character of Vikram. From the very first time we see him on screen, we understand and relate to the tragedy that he is shown enduring. The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that he develops and the impact that it has on his life are brought to life wonderfully by Rajkummar Rao. There isn’t a single scene where his rendering feels caricaturish or over the top.
As the story progress, his condition is made worse by the kidnap of Neha (Sanya), the one person he loves the most in the world. It appears as though she might also end up in the same way as Rao’s sister, whose brutal murder resulted in him developing PTSD in the first place. As he tries his best to track down Neha, he meets with failure at every turn and this enrages him. The expression of this very anger coupled with the fear that he might just be too late to save her results in certain outbursts that feel extremely real and haunting. Rajkummar Rao doesn’t let the audience settle and is always conveying a sense of dread and imminent loss that makes every scene of the film that features him very unnerving. I loved Rajkummar’s essay in the film and felt that the director could have easily thought of utilizing him better by making the story a little different and transforming the film into a whole new beast.
Engrossing narrative for the ones who haven’t seen the original
For anyone who hasn’t seen the original, the story and the screenplay will definitely be engrossing. As the film reached its climax, I could practically hear the couple seating behind me bumbling with surprise and they were mighty impressed too by the final twist and reveal. This will be the case with most of the audiences who haven’t seen the original but for all those who have seen the original, there is practically nothing novel in this film in terms of the story and the screenplay.
I have a soft corner for Police procedurals as the path that the police take to uncover a certain crime always grabs my attention. I even enjoyed some of the lesser police procedurals where the Bollywood “tadka” overtook the serious nature of the story. In HIT: The First Case, this aspect of the story is dealt with seriously and given due respect. This, coupled with the astute performances, resulted in elevating the overall impact of the film.
Some of the songs and the music worked for me
While the background score of the original was one of the best that I heard in 2020, the songs in the Hindi remake are soulful. Thanks to their beautiful picturization, the songs leave a telling impact on the viewers. The fact that I was aware that the romantic bliss of Vikram and Neha were short-lived made me enjoy the songs even more. Having said that, the background score throughout the rest of the film could have been better.
While it may not be revolutionary, it has to be accepted that the cinematography of the film always keeps the audiences in the best vantage point to enjoy all that is unfolding on screen. It must be added that the manner in which certain sequences are captured adds to the dread of what was unfolding. The recurring nightmares of Rajkummar Rao in the film are one of the primary examples of this. The way the camera follows Rao as he goes about his work was not only efficient but also drew our attention to the things that the makers wanted to draw our attention to albeit subtly and effectively. The romantic bits are captured in a surreal and beautiful manner that explains how much the couple was into each other and why Vikram was losing his sanity as time passed and he was unable to find Neha.
The issues with the film
Having said all that, the film is ultimately a frame-to-frame copy of the original. Whatever little is changed in the narrative, in the end, was also not in the best interest of the remake. I felt that the reasons behind the antagonist doing what she was shown doing in the original was a lot more apt and bringing in an unnecessary woke angle into it only liquidated the impact of the film.
There was nothing novel or interesting in this remake to merit a view for the ones who have seen the original and they will not miss a thing if they skip this film.
While Rajkummar Rao did a fantastic job as Vikram, the rest of the cast, though apt didn’t do anything to leave any impact whatsoever. I watched an interview with Rao where he mentioned that he would not have done the film had the director not explained the various changes that he was bringing to the plot to transform the film into a whole new story. I looked all over the film and couldn’t see any other change in its screenplay except for the unnecessary woke turn of motivations in the end. Who was Rao fooling with his statement is what I ask myself now? Probably me and many others like me who might have fallen for his words.
The entire film felt more like an honest and dedicated re-tread of the path taken by its original than a thinking and breathing piece of art that every film should aspire to be.
It would be a better bet any day to watch the original HIT: The First Case on Amazon Prime Videos than take the trouble of going to the theaters and watching this labored remake. Even the ones who haven’t seen the original can wait for this film to come to OTT which it will very soon because of the terrible opening that it has received in theaters.