Movie Review: Vikram Vedha
Star Cast: R Madhavan, Vijay Sethupathy, Kathir, Shraddha Srinath, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar and Hareesh Peradi.
Music Composed by Sam CS
Directed by Pushkar – Gayathri
Cinematography by PS Vinod
Censor Certificate: UA & Runtime: 147 Minutes
Before getting to the merits and de-merits of this movie, let’s understand what Vikram-Bethal stories are for us. Ok, for me at least. On a Sunday evening, or a normal holiday evening, I used to open the Chandamama book that was newly released and that is when I read my first Vikram Betaal story. Yes, there is a tacky yet surprisingly engaging Telugu and Hindi versions that I loved to revisit again and again. My fascination with such a story telling did not end there. Started searching for the stories and when I read the stories in Bethalpacchimisi, I was really happy about the kind of riddles I was asked to solve while my puny brains are developing new theories all the time. Such a great education for development. May be today’s kids needs such a big exercise too.
After watching this movie, I reminisced again the stories and if you observe, Vikram Vedha is another Vikram -Betaal story. But here Vikram and Betaal are part of the story too. Well, Betaal on a hunchback of Vikram told him the story of him and Vikram in today’s world! Yes, however funny it sounds that the movie. If you have any doubt just check the Vikram Bethal stories pattern. They start with a trusting King looking to find allies that will help him win a war or make him understand the importance of keeping their kingdom safe. (Spoiler Alert) Here Vikram played by R. Madhavan wants to eradicate sinners but for that, he is ok to cross a line. The trait of a King and mainly, Vikramaditya’s. (Note this point, My lord…) Then, we meet Vedha, he walks right into the station and starts narrating a story. a trait of Betaal. (Again Note this too..). All the stories that Vedha narrates end up with a riddle (….) Now, Vikram has to solve them and he needs to decide on which side he falls. His judgment is based on a small line that differentiates his acts to that of Vedha and he is proud of that. But when the line starts to blur it gets more clear to him that justice doesn’t exist on any person’s side.
Well, the tantric who set him on wildfire dies but can he get rid of Betaal?? No, an obsession that he built over the time. How can he let go of that? That’s the beauty of Vikram Vedha. The movie is not fool proof, it might be too much of a fantasy that has been executed to look real and we do get to that part so early. The makers are not taking themselves too seriously and neither they push you too. They want to get to the point they want to narrate and if you get the undertones great. If you don’t at least you get your ticket’s worth entertainment with Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi, two powerhouses going head to head. You’re pleased to be witnessing this overflow of talent. The scenes do not try to overstay their welcome if they few tend to get repetitive. You have to catch the nuances in the background here, be highly attentive like reading a Vikram Betaal story. If you miss the detail, you will miss the puzzle.
You will loose and Betaal can eat you off. So, you have to be Vikram here and let Betaal do his thing. If you observe, even The Dark Knight’s Joker is sort of a Betaal. He is not trying to run after any huge scams and his whole scam is to get The Dark Knight, become the world burner that he is. He wants to crack his inner demons and set it free. Betaal in our literature is not a treacherous person but a great Pandit. Still, in Vampire avatar, he is so damaged that he needs Vikram to come to his aide 24 times before he can make friends with him. And Vikram too had a policy to not kill unless it is highly necessary. So wise crack like Joker can become a Betaal try to get to the tantric that Batman depends on. Well, here again with Joker’s help he understands Two Face who he trusts a tantric in disguise and takes the blame on himself as a punishment. There you go the riddle, is it right? Should he be doing so? Same way, Vikram Vedha also ends with a riddle! “Edhu Nayam” (What is justice?)
For me, this film also reminded me of a film that has been over appreciated but still had a point or two that we can take home. Akshay’s Jolly LLB2. In the movie, Akshay declares, “Na humko terrorist chahiyen .. Na Encounter specialists jinke liye say itthefaq hein” (Well, my dear fault finders, I know the dialogue is not exactly the same, pls move on to next line). Something to that effect, where he states both encounter specialists who kill for good and terrorists and others who kill for money or passion, are unnecessary for civilized society. So whom do you need Vikram or Vedha?
So whom do you need Vikram or Vedha?
When you look at this movie from just a writer’s or Director’s point of view you see the major character emotions are narrated through major exposition. That suffocates a writer’s sense of understanding and viewers tend to depend on the narrator to guide them than trying to find their own way to the destiny. That is one major minus that at times bores you. Then there are contradictory theories as well. Suddenly Vedha becomes the Pandit or the teacher. Vikram trusting Vedha so much makes sense of a point of time but not in the beginning. It feels like too early transition and the character of Madhavan that had to grow stops being itself and becomes a puppet in the hands of its master. Even Vedha character after a point expect for the story it is narrating it has nothing interesting to look at. Still, actors pull it off and even the murkiness makes it a good watch. Makers should have concentrated on the sense of disbelief that an audience member can fall into in such investigative stories. If it wasn’t for the performers we could have easily stopped caring for the intelligence behind it. May be next time the writers need to concentrate a little more on keeping it fantasy real than real fantasy.
The camera work and the actors here are the major pluses along with the screenplay. You tend to not miss finite details and the directors should be credited for such an achievement. R Madhavan is wonderful, Vijay Sethupathi dispenses with lengthy exposition and character development because he can certainly afford to, but Madhavan manages to convincingly sell his character’s plight and get us to care about his journey. Shraddha Srinath and Varalaskhmi Sarathkumar have given ample support, must say.
In the other technicalities, Editing is seamless and brings a fluid feel to the entire film. Music by Sam CS, one of the biggest ally to the entire film. The songs are so close to the ears whereas the score is very distant, drifting, airy and massy. The most important trait of BGM, is silence, which is handled with such a pin point precision. Also, try to notice the clever usage of the colors where the main characters meet and converge. All the technicals come together with such efficacy proving the perfect atmosphere for the film to unravel and in turn influence tremendously, the end user experience.
When I sat down to analyze the movie in complete sense and sensibilities I understood this is one crazy ass experiment that got out from the true blue lovers of cinema. Pushkar-Gayatri just took the fantasy world of Vikram -Betaal applied it to the real life story. They even went ahead to deliver the crazy idea of Devil vs Human, who is guided by Devil in disguise! Their undertones by making Vedha look almost like a vampire and then devil and his interesting narration of stories help the story progress at the right pace. By the time, you feel isn’t this going too long, you’re welcomed with a surprise. Nothing here is just for the sake of it and nothing is real too. A delight to experience in the theaters.