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Remakes are a tricky minefield but Saif, Hrithik’s Vikram Vedha gets it right

Vikram Vedha is every bit as compelling and entertaining as the original film.

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Directors remaking their films is not a new phenomenon. But it is a tricky minefield. For instance, earlier this year, Dr Sailesh Kolanu remade his Telugu film HIT – The First Case in Hindi with Rajkummar Rao and Gowtam Tinnanuri remade his film Jersey with Shahid Kapoor. Both films didn’t evoke as much of an applause as their original editions. Pushkar and Gayathri, who directed and re-directed Vikram Vedha, have managed to create a cinematic world distinct from the original.

“Take a play like Streetcar Named Desire or Death of a Salesman. It has been staged hundreds of times all over the world. The text remains the same. But you bring in a fresh set of actors when a production changes,” said Pushkar, speaking about the motivation behind remaking the 2017 blockbuster Vikram Vedha, starring R Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi. If you haven’t watched the original film, you are in for a treat. But if you have, it would help if you watch it keeping the director’s words in mind.

The film, a cat-and-mouse chase thriller between a criminal and a cop, moves from Chennai to Lucknow for the Hindi reprisal. ‘Mutton chops’ translate into ‘kulcha nihari’. In comes a fresh set of actors — Saif Ali Khan and Hrithik Roshan — and the production value multiplies. Loosely inspired from the folk tale Vikram-Betaal, the remake’s plot is largely the same. Vikram (Saif) plays the role of a police officer, an encounter specialist, who has been chasing the gangster Vedha (Hrithik). But it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Every time the two face each other, Vedha narrates an event from the past, forcing Vikram to look beyond the two binaries — right and wrong.

As a character says in a scene, “…the devil lies in the details”. The film, time and again, reminds us of that.


Also read: Pathonpatham Noottandu shows Arattupuzha’s legacy but can’t escape pitfalls of Malayalam epics


Hrithik–Saif weave magic 

Saif and Hrithik collaborated two decades ago in the 2002 film Na Tum Jaano Na Hum. Seeing them in Vikram Vedha, one can’t help but wonder why it took so long for the filmmakers to bring the two versatile actors back together. Their on-screen chemistry is infectious. However, the same cannot be said for Radhika Apte’s character who plays Vikram’s wife and Vedha’s lawyer. The minor tweaks made to the screenplay do nothing to provide enough moments for Saif and Apte’s chemistry to marinate.

It helps that the action sequences are well choreographed. In one such scene, ‘Kisi ki muskurahaton pe ho nisar‘ from Anari (1959) plays in the background as Vedha slashes goons left, right and centre alongside the Ganga.

Comparisons with the original is an inevitability. But the remake has a solid, rooted story. Saif often seems like the long-lost brother of Sartaj Singh from Sacred Games. He is as effective as he was in the Netflix web series. Hrithik, playing an antagonist for the second time after Dhoom 2, is menacing and dangerous as ‘Vedha Betal’.

Like many Bollywood films this year, Vikram Vedha was also subjected to boycott demands on social media. But the story and its execution is so powerful that it is likely to surpass any such irritants.

Remaking films can often go down a slippery slope. But thanks to the husband-wife director duo, Vikram Vedha is every bit as compelling and entertaining as the original film.

“As a cop, one should be able to tell whether someone is a criminal or not just by looking in their eyes,” says Vikram in the film. He is proved wrong on more occasions than one. Don’t be like Vikram. Give this one a shot. It is worth it.

(Edited by Ratan Priya)

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Directors remaking their films is not a new phenomenon. But it is a tricky minefield. For instance, earlier this year, Dr Sailesh Kolanu remade his Telugu film HIT – The First Case in Hindi with Rajkummar Rao and Gowtam Tinnanuri remade his film Jersey with Shahid Kapoor. Both films didn't evoke...Remakes are a tricky minefield but Saif, Hrithik’s Vikram Vedha gets it right