Why Did Bollywood Make Vikram Vedha's Vedha Excessively Macho?

Filmmaker duo Pushkar-Gayathri glorified Bollywood's heedless fascination with making villains very charming, heroic, unstoppable and thus, superficial
Why Did Bollywood Make Vikram Vedha's Vedha Excessively Macho?

When Pushkar-Gayathri made Vikram Vedha in 2017, their ideas had a touch of reality, but in 2022, they turned their backs on rootedness when they remade the same film. Does a remake mean grafting the plot, characters, and treatment onto another language? If that is the intention, then officially dubbing the original film is the most effective route. Why didn't their remake leave room for experimentation? Why did it have to bring the equation, culture and politics of the South Indian underworld and police department to North India as well? When the new Vikram Vedha portrays a gangster from the Hindi heartland, why does he act like a mafioso from the southern seashore?

The main point of this article, though related to the above statement, is not Pushkar-Gayathri's departure from reality. If we try to observe the character of Vedha, we can find that Vedha in Tamil is much more like the common people. It's hard to identify him as exceptional. He looks like an ordinary middle-class citizen but behaves like a deadly criminal. On the other hand, the Bollywood version of Vedha is over the top from the very beginning. He looks like a hero. His demeanour is heroic. In one scene, when he tried to escape from the police through the roof of a house, he jumped like a dashing hero from one roof to another several metres away and swung from one building to another by hanging on electric wires. Or in another scene, Vedha was walking down the street, accompanied by his henchmen. He was wearing sunglasses; his shirt's collar had popped up; he looked like a typical 'rowdy' guy. In the Hindi version of Vikram Vedha, it is as if deliberate, dangerous body language is being force-fed into this character. Why is that?

Why Did Bollywood Make Vikram Vedha's Vedha Excessively Macho?
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The reason for this is a very old trend or fascination that Bollywood has encouraged since the 1970s. Bollywood always portrays villains unrealistically. They should dress up very gorgeously and perform various stunts to give the impression that he is not a flesh-and-blood villain but some kind of superhuman. Bollywood has been showing this fantasy in various movies for a long time. At the same time, the heroes began to be given a very different look from the 1970s era, as if the heroes were as superhuman as the villains. Bollywood's fascination with villains started in the '70s and '80s, mainly with Amitabh Bachchan-starrer films. As you can see in films like Deewaar (1975), Don (1978), etc., the villain started to be portrayed as a weird caricature, which was later copied in different ways in other Bollywood commercial films. The villain, or hero, used to say things that a normal criminal or social justifier might not say. In this way, Bollywood started to distort the mentality of the audience in different parts of the country. There has always been a boom in Hindi mass films, especially in North and Central India. Naturally, various deformed ideas about what a hero should be and what a villain should be started to develop after witnessing and becoming accustomed to these misrepresentations, the impact of which we may still be carrying.

Its influence also found its way into south Indian films, especially Telugu and Kannada commercials. In the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century, there were several popular films that showcased the reflection of such unrealistic ideas across the ages. However, there have been many films acted by Rajinikanth in Tamil and Mammootty in Malayalam where we see gangster culture being reimagined in a new way. And a new type of film is also beginning to be explored that goes beyond the so-called hero-villain dynamic, whose mass appeal is catastrophic.

Why Did Bollywood Make Vikram Vedha's Vedha Excessively Macho?
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In 2017, when Pushkar-Gayathri made Vikram Vedha in Tamil, they initiated the project with a lot of study and research. Tamil Nadu has its own identity in the stories of gangsters rampant in the slums of the Coromandel Coast, their internal politics, the dishonesty of the police department, and the overall dysfunctional social structure. The culture and history of the Hindi Belt are vastly different from those of the Deccan Plateau. In the original film, we see Vedha from the very beginning without any extra nobility, and he behaves like any ordinary person. He does not appear to be this dangerous. Even though he is a villain, the director-duo has not mixed any heroic romanticism into him. Since Vedha's character is not built on a preconceived notion, the audience begins to feel the change in his character as the story progresses. They get a glimpse of the grey colour that exists between white and black. No over-dramatisation anywhere. However, five years later, the same directors overdramatized the entire film in the Bollywood version.

In the Hindi remake, Vedha walks around with a group of henchmen like any other typical Bollywood villain, with Vedha in the middle and his henchmen standing around. Vedha is acting very cleverly, and his chums are trying to make the audience laugh by saying silly things. Vedha's collar is popped up; several buttons are opened in the front; a sando is widely visible from inside; the shirt sleeves are rolled up. His hair is rough all the time. Even when he is shown in an action sequence, those scenes are so overdramatic that it seems the film is not about Vikram but Vedha, the one and only protagonist here. Bollywood Vedha looks a lot like Greek gods, which is not the general physical structure seen among the rowdy gangsters of Kanpur or similar small towns in Uttar Pradesh. Vedha's gym-toned appearance is the same as it was at the beginning of his criminal life as it is today, with no changes other than makeup to enhance the age difference. Tamil Vedha's main characteristic is that he is very clever. Although he is violent, the form of violence is less. That's why he was able to handle Vikram so easily from the start. It is for this ingenuity that Vedha is remembered. But the Bollywood fantasy has made Vedha less clever and more violent. From the very beginning of his first story, he is represented as an overly smart criminal, an expert in murder. Although Tamil Vedha was a mediocre criminal in the beginning, he gradually managed to establish himself by proving his mettle. But Bollywood's Vedha was confident in himself from the start. The audience does not perceive the transition of the character over time. The reason Vedha's characterization in Hindi is like this is to follow the age-old tradition of Bollywood of making villains like this. It is a trap of sorts, into which potent filmmakers like Pushkar Gayathri have unfortunately fallen.

Hrithik Roshan is a good actor, but it feels like he shouldn't have taken on the role of Vedha. Being over-dramatic and more violent has helped push the blindfolded Bollywood stereotype.

Why Did Bollywood Make Vikram Vedha's Vedha Excessively Macho?
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Apart from the depiction of Vedha, there are many misconceptions in this Bollywood remake. For example, even though the North Indian gangster culture is very different, the plot of South Indian origin is adapted to the North Indian background, due to which the remake has moved away from reality. The character of Vikram was basically honest, but that honesty was not reflected in Saif Ali Khan's tepid expressions and body language. He failed to make the character believable. Also, there were many shots that were brilliant in the Tamil version, but they seemed very silly and unnecessary in the Hindi remake. Almost every scene was copied from scene to scene; only the shot angles had been changed. Also, there were inessential spates of brutality throughout the film, which made it more one-dimensional.

Hence, we can say that by making this needless remake of Tamil Vikram Vedha, the filmmaker-duo has glorified Bollywood's heedless fascination with making villains very charming, heroic, and unstoppable, thus superficial.

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