VIKRAM VEDHA (2022)

Hrithik Roshan as Vedha in a still
  • Release Date: 30/09/2022
  • Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan, Radhika Apte, Sharib Hashmi
  • Director: Pushkar-Gayatri

Vikram Vedha piles on a long list of unnecessary Bollywood remakes of South Indian films 

— Ambar Chatterjee

Vikram Vedha is a scene-to-scene remake of the 2017 Tamil film, Vikram Vedha directed by Pushkar-Gayatri and featuring R. Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi as the titular characters. In the Hindi remake, Saif Ali Khan plays Vikram while Hrithik Roshan plays Vedha. For the uninitiated, the story revolves around an honest cop, Vikram, and his team of encounter specialists who are out to get a dreaded gangster, Vedha and his gang. Vedha is in hiding and has been elusive even though the cops are successful in killing many of his cronies. After one such encounter, Vedha suddenly resurfaces, surrenders himself to the cops, and when interrogated by Vikram, offers to tell him a story. What happens next is what the film is all about.

Why watch the remake when the original is available for free: –

As already mentioned, the film has nothing new to offer in terms of the story, screenplay, and characters. Thus, for anyone who has seen the original, the only reason to watch this remake is if he/she is interested to see the various changes incorporated by the director duo in the execution of the film, and the different stylistic choices that marginally change some of the sequences and add a dash of gusto to them. One small portion that documents the rise of Vedha to power has also been re-imagined.

The most important reasons that the northern audiences might have to watch this remake are the two leading men; Especially Hrithik’s turn as the nefarious Vedha. There has been a lot of buzz around his rendition of the character and the director duo try their best to capitalize on the excitement surrounding the actor playing the character. On the other hand, while the character of Vikram remains similar to the original, Saif Ali Khan tries to bring his own sensibility and physicality to it using subtle nuances and minor changes here and there.

For the ones who haven’t seen the original, this will definitely prove to be an interesting, exciting, and entertaining watch. I watched this film with someone who had some idea of the original but hadn’t seen it. She was involved in the narrative at least for two-thirds of the film and her excitement started to wear off only towards the end of the film when she could predict who the bad guys were going to be. Having said that, it still begs the question — why watch this remake when the original can be streamed for free? 

Saif Ali Khan as Vikram in a still

Hrithik Roshan’s flamboyant and maniacal performance as Vedha: –

Vijay Sethupathi played the character of Vedha with a very casual and easy-going attitude that not only infused some situational comedy in the narrative but also made the character likable in an odd sort of a way. Hrithik’s rendition of Vedha is a lot more sinister, over-the-top, and maniacal. This approach to the character has its own advantages and disadvantages. For me, the advantages were more as it ensured that the audience’s attention was transfixed on the character whenever he was on screen. It also ensured that the character was unpredictable and was always in a position to surprise you with his sudden bursts of beastly violence or tender loving care for the only person that he ever loved in his life.

Hrithik is not only able to infuse the kind of physicality and heroism into the character that only he could, but he also makes this version of Vedha his own and takes it so far away from the rendition of Vijay Sethupathi (from the original) that there remains nothing to compare between the two. That in itself is a very good thing for a beloved character in a remake. This performance is a treat for his fans and they will certainly have a great time with his character.

Strong Supporting cast: –    

The film’s supporting cast is one of its biggest strengths. The ones who have seen the original know that there are numerous smaller characters in the film that have a great impact and bearing on the entire story and the actors who play these portions needed to make an impact. Otherwise, the story would have lost its weight and power and many of the sequences would not have the same shock value that the original was laced with. Thankfully, each and every one of the supporting actors does a fabulous job and contribute to making the film that much more impactful. My favorites of the lot were Sharib Hashmi, Rohit Saraf, Yogita Bihani, and Satyadeep Mishra. Each of these actors did exceedingly well in their respective essays and elevated their characters with their performances.  

Poorly executed action sequences: – 

While some of the gunfight sequences were just about “ok”, the overall action of the film was poorly envisioned and executed. There was enough opportunity to infuse some memorable action sequences that would not only elevate the heroism of Vikram and Vedha but would also give audiences something to cheer for. Sadly, as was the case with the original, the action sequences here are unimaginative, poorly shot, and are over before you can begin to enjoy. One of the worst sequences was the one where Hrithik takes on a gang of kidnappers to free a child. The climactic action was almost a retread of the sequence from the original and had no impact whatsoever.

Lack of “a sense urgency” in the narrative: –  

I sensed a lack of a sense of urgency in the storytelling and this was again a problem that was there in the original. The character of Vedha loses the only person that he has ever loved in his life and yet goes about doing his thing with a straight face. He even forges a bond with the very same man who had killed his loved one in the first place. He is also able to crack jokes and wisecracks as he goes along. We never get to see him truly mourn the death of his loved one or show the kind of uncontrollable rage that is expected from a marauding killer like him. These things grabbed my attention in the original after multiple views and the same problem remains in the remake. I will only blame the directors for this as it is more of a problem in the writing than Hrithik’s performance or his version of the character. The idea of remaking a film should also be to improve certain aspects of it from the original. Unfortunately, that is not the case here.

Final Words: –

Vikram Vedha is strictly for those who haven’t seen the original or are Hrithik Roshan fans. There is very little here that deserves a re-watch for the audiences who have seen the original. Even the dialogues remain the same in addition to most of the scenes and setups. The only things keeping the film interesting for the viewers who have seen the original are Hrithik’s performance and a strong supporting cast who do a good job. Vikram Vedha piles on a long list of unnecessary Bollywood remakes of South Indian films that is only going to get longer as Bollywood gears up for a plethora of new remakes.  

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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