Vikram Vedha 2022 Review: Watch It For The Spectacle

Amidst the long-standing tradition of Bollywood filmmakers adapting South Indian films, Vikram Vedha was one that was greatly anticipated by Tamil and Hindi-speaking fans alike. An important reason was the fantastic casting for the remake, with Saif Ali Khan as the hard-hitting police officer Vikram and Hritik Roshan as the antihero Vedha Betaal. 

The two Bollywood actors had big shoes to fill, with Khan standing in for Madhavan and Roshan replacing Vijay Sethupathi, whose acting skills are revered to no end. But the remake was helmed by Pushkar–Gayathri, the same filmmakers behind the original Tamil film from 2017. There were high for the 2022 remake, and it hasn’t disappointed — the Bollywood Vikram Vedha will wow you with its superior action and spectacle, and give you just enough to keep you satiated on all other counts. 

Acting

Rating:
3.5/5

The opening scene of Vikram Vedha is a very memorable one, and starts off with a ‘routine’ encounter by Officer Vikram and his team. As Vikram makes his way to the scene, he passes jovial quips to every team member as a way of saying hello. The scene is an amazing way to introduce major characters; however, Saif Ali Khan’s performance falters oddly and the scene ends up falling short. It is definitely an odd role for him to fall short on, since he has already played the role of gritty cop before, most notably in Sacred Games. However,. his performance quickly becomes immersive as the film picks up pace.

The character dynamics between Vikram and Vedha is also somewhat wanting, and it is most apparent in the very first interaction between the two. Vikram Vedha is a movie divided into three distinct stories or puzzles told by Hrithik Roshan’s Vedha, who is a modern-day parallel of the Vetaal from Indian fables. The scene in which he tells his first story is an important one, as without these stories, the movie would otherwise be a regular cop action film. Khan and Roshan fail to do justice to the scene, as the performances of the two leading men fail to bounce off of each other, adding a subtle sense of coldness to the very important interaction. 

Meanwhile, Roshan is quite appealing as a charismatic, far-seeing criminal mastermind. Vedha’s character is a complex one in that he sees his criminal career as a simple day job, and is otherwise a family man with great capacity for empathy. Roshan manages to portray these dimensions adequately and carries the bedazzling aura expected of this character. 

Dialogue

Rating:
2.5/5

Saif Ali Khan’s awkward performance in the beginning of the movie could possibly have been because of the dialogue written out for him. In any case, the dialogue is very wooden and inorganic at the beginning of the film. This is in total opposition to the promise made by the Vikram Vedha title. 

The movie starts off by juxtaposing the everyday concerns of the police officers with the violent nature of their job. The officers are talking about showing up late to work and paying off their family loans while heading into a violent police encounter. This is a style of filmmaking that is quite established in India, with movies such as Gangs of Wasseypur. However, the intents of the movie fall short with the wooden dialogue delivery. Similar to Saif Ali Khan’s performance, though, the dialogues get better with each next story told by Vedha. 

Cinematography

Rating:
4/5

Vikram Vedha has chosen to go for vibrant, earthy colors that, at first glance, appear out-of-place in a gritty action film. They do grab your attention, but you expect such rosy colors in an artsy film about urban realities, rather than the gritty cop action the movie is known to be. However, the observation is a fleeting one at best. Instead, your experience will be elevated by all the cool moments that the filmmakers have peppered throughout the movie. Moments such as Vedha’s first entry, the opening tracking scene, a slow-mo fight scene set to a classic Bollywood song, as well as the interrogation scene in which Vedha tells his first story are all noteworthy.

It is these ‘cool’ moments that do justice to the film’s remake — especially given the fact that the gritty spectacle is half of the charm of the 2017 original. One only wishes that such scenes could have been a bit more plentiful throughout the film; some of the awesome moments from the trailer have only found a fleeting placement in the final movie, which was probably a decision made on the cutting floor. 

It is also worth wondering if the movie could have benefitted with greater use of the camera as a storytelling device. Since Vikram Vedha fully draws parallels with the ancient fable of Vikram and Vetaal, some greater complexity with the visual storytelling wouldn’t have gone amiss. 

Storytelling/Themes

Rating:
3/5
Both the original and the remake feature an animated narration of the Vikram-Vetaal fable as prologue.

Vikram Vedha features a very unique story that seeks to run overt parallels between a modern day cop chase and the ancient fable of Vikram and Vetaal. It is divided into three distinct sections, each separated by a tale told by Vetaal, which serves as a lead for Officer Vikram’s investigations. 

Given this parallel with an archetypal fairy tale, Vikram Vedha had the opportunity to weave many patterns into its storytelling. Instead, it presents the major themes of the movie in clunky pieces — after the opening encounter, we get a lot of dead space where Vikram gets to give a perfectly simple explanation of the movie’s themes. He talks about how the world is black and white, where the cops are the good guys and the criminals are the bad guys. Vedha’s entry overtly challenges this notion, an challenge that continues throughout the movie. 

In short, the movie fails to abide by the storytelling principle of ‘show, don’t tell’. This is most painfully obvious during the exposition, where the movie takes great pains to show off a number of Chekov’s guns, all of which soundly go off by the end. 

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A notable use of visual motifs was the comparison of Vedha with the mythological character, Raavan. It is done early in the movie through dialogue. At least two times throughout the movie, Vedha enters a scene with the ten-headed rakshasa clearly in the background — once in the middle of a Ramayana play enactment, and another time as a huge Raavan statue is being burned during ritual celebration. The latter of these scenes also develops as a subtle foreshadowing for one of the key reveals later in the movie. 

Soundtrack

Rating:
4/5

The movie has given an undeniably badass treatment to Vedha’s original theme from the Tamil film. As the stakes climb throughout the movie, the powerful soundtrack becomes a perfect addition to make scenes more enjoyable. But like some of the other aspects of this movie, the background track also finds a strange execution at the very beginning. In the very first scene, every line of dialogue spoken by Vikram is accompanied by short bursts of rock music. This is presumably a bid to give a more ‘badass’ air to the character, and an attempt to add some quirky personality to the film itself. However, it fails miserably and gives a bumpy start to the entire experience. 

Total Rating:

3.3/5

The Vikram Vedha remake of 2022 presents itself with many ‘what-ifs’ that might have made it better; however, none of these ‘what-ifs’ come in the way of enjoying the final product, which is held down by a genius story idea, fun casting, and an exponential increase in visual spectacle that perfectly matches the movie’s hard-boiled tone. 

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