Mainstream Hindi cinema has been obsessed with remaking successful and acclaimed south Indian films since years. However, a lot of these films haven’t yielded fruitful results. One should take note that most of those ineffective remakes have been made by different set of people.
Vikram Vedha (2022) shows how much difference it can make when the same set of writers and directors, in this case Pushkar and Gayathri who wrote and directed the original Tamil film of 2017, take on the responsibility of remaking their film in another language.
The film is set in the north Indian town of Lucknow where senior cop Vikram (Saif Ali Khan) takes immense pride in being an encounter specialist, along with his team that helps him out with the same, since he believes they are only finishing off the bad guys. He has a conflict with his wife (Radhika Apte), a lawyer who doesn’t approve of fake encounters.
Vikram is loaded with the task of nabbing the dreaded criminal Vedha (Hrithik Roshan). He and his team has been struggling to match up to him. But one day, Vedha himself surrenders by walking into the police station. Vikram finds his act fishy and wonders about his motive. During the interrogation, Vedha narrates a story to Vikram that the latter can’t afford to ignore.
Despite the Hindi remake following the same storyline, it is given an identity of its own by the makers. The setting, milieu, characters, lingo and, most importantly, the more mainstream presentation makes the new Vikram Vedha worth enjoying even for those who have liked the original.
Similarly, Saif Ali Khan and Hrithik Roshan bring out their own versions of the two characters played by R Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi in the original. You are never reminded of the duo from the original and this is another major plus point for the movie.
Khan brings out his own toughness and style while enacting the ‘good’ cop. He scores high also when his character develops later on. Hrithik is remarkable as the ‘bad’ guy with different shades. His sarcasm is spot on and so is his sensibility in serious situations, although his accent does remind you of his act in Super 30 (2019) a few times.
Radhika Apte turns out to be the perfect choice for the role of an honest and upright lawyer. Sharib Hashmi has proved over the years that he can’t do anything wrong. He continues the same here in the role of Babloo Bhaiya. Rohit Saraf and Yogita Bihani score well in their supporting acts.
Like the original, the remake too is not just a stylish action saga but also thought-provoking in terms of whether all is either black or white in today’s world.
Vikram Vedha perfectly looks like it belongs to the small north Indian towns because of some impressive work by the production designer. The film scores high even in terms of other technical aspects like cinematography, editing and background score. The last sees the repetition of the signature tune from the original film. It is hard to imagine Vikram Vedha without that powerful and kick-worthy background score.
While the film is a worthy remake of the original, it has some minuses. For some time in the second half the narrative isn’t as smooth as one would expect, especially after watching the original. The all-important surrender scene doesn’t match up to the one in the original in terms of intensity and tension. It also appears more hurried.
But all in all, Vikram Vedha is one of the rare impressive Hindi films in a year that has largely been lackluster.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Directors: Pushkar and Gayathri
Writers: Pushkar, Gayathri and Benazir Ali Fida
Producers: Reliance Entertainment, T-Series, YNOT Studios, Friday Filmworks and Jio Studios
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan, Radhika Apte, Sharib Hashmi, Satyadeep Mishra, Rohit Saraf, Yogita Bihani
Runtime: 159 minutes