Even though it follows the original storyline with unwavering faith and is helmed by the same writers and directors, the Hindi version of Vikram Vedha is, on paper, not a Xerox copy of the 2017 Tamil film. Yet barring Roshan’s solo action sequences, there are few moments in this remake that don’t make you nostalgic for the original.
It’s not that Vikram Vedha isn’t competently made. To begin with, there’s Pushkar-Gayatri’s clever script, which takes the legend of Vikram-Betaal and transposes it into a modern-day thriller. Twisty, intelligent, packed with complex characters and punctuated with excellent stunts, the script of Vikram Vedha is an actor’s dream.
Add to that Pushkar-Gayatri’s directorial flair. For example, they weave beloved songs from vintage Bollywood films into the background score as a stylish hat-tip to the music that has been the soundtrack to our lives for at least two generations now.
Roshan dominates every scene he appears in with his sheer physicality. Yet he has little chemistry with any of his co-stars. His solo scenes crackle with charm as though the real rapport is between the star and his audience. Few actors are as graceful as Roshan and the actor can make everything, even being beaten up, look elegant.
Khan’s Vikram is not just flat and uncharismatic, he also has one of the unwittingly funniest moments in the film when an idea sparking in his head is mirrored by the sparks that literally fly because he’s using a welding machine.
Despite the strength of the script, it feels as though Pushkar-Gayatri’s direction has lost some of its gleam in translation. More worryingly, the cast of the Hindi Vikram Vedha can’t capitalise on a script that is ripe with potential and opportunities. We’ve seen the Tamil cast milk this story for all its dramatic worth. It’s worth wondering why Bollywood’s actors struggle to do the same.
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