The Tamil-language feature film ‘Vikram Vedha’ ranks as one of the best thrillers made in the country in the last couple of years. The narrative of the film was designed around the Vikram – Betaal folklore but the film was set in today’s times. Instead of King Vikramaditya and Betaal, the film showed the equation between a tough cop named Vikram and a dreaded criminal called Vedha. The Hindi remake of the film has been directed by Pushkar – Gayatri who helmed the original. While the original had R. Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi playing the titular roles, the Hindi remake features Saif Ali Khan and Hrithik Roshan.
Vikram (Saif Ali Khan) is a senior officer working with the Special Task Force (STF) which is a subsidiary of the Lucknow police force. Vikram doesn’t believe that it is wrong to use unethical means to eliminate anti-social elements. Vikram is known for carrying out multiple encounters against criminals. To ensure that he or his team does not get into trouble, Vikram manipulates the crime scene in a way that gives the authorities the impression that the criminals were knocked down by the police in an act of self-defense. One of the biggest goals in Vikram’s life is to get hold of Vedha (Hrithik Roshan), the most notorious gangster in the state. One fine day, Vikram gets a tip about Vedha hiding in a particular locality. As Vikram and his team, comprising of several officers and gunmen, get ready to head towards Vedha’s underground location, they find Vedha arriving at the STF headquarters on his own.
One thing that is common to most Hindi remakes of Tamil/Telugu/Malayalam/Kannada films is that the producers in Mumbai ask the writers and the director to compress the narrative. For some reason, they always insist on the remake being shorter than the original film. Because of this, the essence of the original film gets severely diluted. What has happened here, interestingly, is quite different. While the original Tamil film was two hours and twenty minutes long, the Hindi remake has a duration of two hours and forty minutes. While Gayatri and Pushkar largely stick to the original script written by them, certain additions and modifications have been made by B A Fida who is credited with writing the adapted screenplay. An elaborate action sequence, which was not there in the original film, has been added here to make Hrithik Roshan fans happy. We also get a scene in which Chanda (Yogita Bihani) talks to Vedha about giving auditions in Mumbai. This scene was, perhaps, added to justify her glamorous look (very different from how the character was portrayed in the original) look in the film.
Surprisingly, some of the important scenes from the original have either not been included or edited out. The scene where Pulli (Shatak, in this film) talks about the reason behind his nickname is not there in this film. The motivations behind an honest cop indulging in unscrupulous activities for money have not been properly explained. That was not the case with the original film. Another thing that you notice while watching this is that it has a slightly polished look to it. In the original film, the milieu was represented in the most authentic manner.
Saif Ali Khan is in terrific form. He displays the mannerisms of his character extremely well and manages to flesh it out brilliantly. Hrithik Roshan’s UP accent doesn’t come across as very authentic but the actor doesn’t disappoint with his performance. Radhika Apte gets good scope to perform and delivers a confident performance. Sharib Hashmi does very well as Babloo. Satyadeep Mishra, in a brief role, is memorable. Rohit Saraf appears in the second half and registers an impression despite getting limited screen time. Yogita Bihani has a good screen presence but her character could have been fleshed out better.
The background score by Sam CS is top-notch. The best song in the film is ‘Saahiba’ (music: Vishal and Shekhar; lyrics: Manoj Muntashir). The much-publicized ‘Alcoholia’ (music: Vishal and Shekhar; lyrics: Manoj Muntashir) is tepid. The two songs by Sam C S (‘Bande’ and ‘Yaara’) are good. The film boasts of splendid cinematography by PS Vinod. The action sequences (Parvez Shaikh) are nicely designed. Editing (Richard Kevin A) could have been better.
‘Vikram Vedha’ is a well-designed commercial entertainer with multiple twists and turns that will keep you thoroughly engaged. Even those who have seen the original, will have a good time revisiting the narrative with a fresh set of actors who interpret the characters differently.