Vikrant Rona: Ambition Overshadowed by Fear
Star Cast: Kiccha Sudeep, Nirup Bhandari, Neetha Ashok, Jacqueline Fernandez, Madhusudan Rao, and Vajradir Jain. Vikrant Rona Review
Music Composed by B. Ajaneesh Loknath
Edited by Ashik Kusugolli
Cinematography by William David
Directed by Anup Bhandari
When you watch a film, you want it to talk to you. Yes, while it shows a lot of visuals, they have to tell something, mean something and make it all worth your effort for watching it at a theatre or even in an easy chair at your home. Movie watching at least for me it is not just a hobby, it is an experience. Mahanati, Solo, and Vikram Vedha kind of movies remain as an experience to me as they kept telling me through each frame, the story the team wanted to tell. Hence, I got to understand why legends said, “A picture is worth a million words!”
Well, Vikrant Rona wanted to talk. Take the scene where Kiccha Sudeep jumps into a well, you can make out the walls of the well being covered with small herbs and not algae. You can see the art department or production design did not make it a dead well, it looks alive and the water looks clear, snakes look to catch him. In reality, an old well will have loads of mud, the water won’t be clean and snakes won’t be that alive, they would be resting on the walls or swimming but don’t look up to catch someone or food like in the film’s scene. This tells us that the director has completely gone for dream-like fantasy that we find in bedtime stories and legends but not a realistic or even Sincity kind of ultra novelistic approach. He wanted to give a visual experience and wanted you to bring out the kid in you.
Anup Bhandari, the director, loves to explore visual colors, meanings behind pictures, and poetic artistry. His short films, Rangitaranga and even Rajaratha have all those elements. The only problem is that he wants to fully explore a bedtime story kind of horror visual palette but he has a star to balance it out with. Sudeep might not want to do a KGF with Vikrant Rona kind of a story but his fans won’t be satisfied if he is sidelined for any reason. Hence, Anup adjusted his vision, and concentrated on making Vikrant Rona, a legend that we all would fear about but like Avane Srimannarayana did not leap to reach the level his character could have gone.
While the concept dominated ASR, still the fun factor and character novelty did not die with old scenes coming into the screenplay. Vikrant Rona started as a man who would think beyond common intelligence but then ends up as a person who doesn’t even think as much as a young untrained only curious girl. Randomly, she starts catching onto clues and that changes the Screenplay completely too. You feel like suddenly the director thought Vikrant Rona build-up shots are enough for fans to feel happy, now let me see how my story progressed. Oh, it didn’t, and one hour is wasted in all set-up? Okay, let me shock them with a twisted interval. But, did the audience feel any shock value with it?
No, because you need to earn it. Mani Ratnam in Mouna Ragam earned his main character’s transformation from a person who feels heartbroken to a person who again found love. Then, he did not earn a similar transformation in Ravanan. Inspector instigates his wife to run back to Ravana and then kills him. How? He asks her, if she fell in love with him, when she says let him free. She feels heartbroken and even though she doesn’t love him she trusts him as a friend. Hence, to save him tries to warn him but following her, the inspector arrives and kills Ravana. While Mani sir wanted to earn this transformation of her hating this man and praying for her husband to hate her husband and trust the same man she hated, his script did not help him. Ravanan visuals are peak Mani Ratnam in concept, meaning, and execution. But did we feel what they have told in their poetic essence? No. Vikrant Rona too ended up as a similar film.
Rangitaranga seemed like a horror tale in a believable universe. Vikrant Rona felt like a similar story was said in unbelievable fairytale land. Each and every frame wanted to set up a story of its own. People attack Sudeep as monsters, many victims’ faces being painted only half. There are different stories behind them. Legend says that the devil resides in half of your body and if you can only clearly differentiate, you can get rid of the devil inside you. But here devil has taken over the two of the psychos and they want the world to see that out of the half that the children represent, taking they are equal halves of their parents, the devil. Their fathers’ are devils in their lives and as they lost their sister due to their devilish oppression and silence, they want that evil to suffer with this loss. Hence, they attack the left part close to their heart. If you observe, they only paint the left side of the people they kill. Sudeep while inviting them to kill using bait, he paints that man’s face fully but the psychos paint the victim’s face only half.
They have given themselves to evil and evolved into monsters. They don’t understand the voice of love. Even though she loves him, the second psycho thinks about only revenge. Even his act of kindness towards the mother of the original kid he killed is to impress her but not to show his humane side. This difference is noticeable when you see him noticing if the girl is watching him or not all the time. Anup did not clearly explore this point in the film. He gave a subtle hint and left it to the audience as he has a big twist to reveal in the climax. And he wanted us to be on the edge trusting the ones we shouldn’t and fearing the ones we shouldn’t. This kind of treatment also did not add up to the starry swag he force-fitted into his hero character. This gave rise to randomness in the script and that randomness killed it as well.
Sound design, Ajaneesh Loknath’s BGM, visuals, production design every technical department worked to their fullest extent but they ended up making a random film that jumbled itself like a puzzle while it could have been more organic. It could have been about a hero character who is hurt, who looks completely defeated, and then his swag to cover that defeat from others is peeled out layer by layer. This is the film that Anup envisioned as each scene, each frame tried to tell it like that. Rakkamma’s character tried to manipulate him but his purposeful eyes did not let her. But as the audience shouldn’t guess it all, Anup tried to make it look like her falling for hero’s swag. Had he been the man who believed in himself like in Rangitaranga, he might have made it look more organic. Has Rajaratha failure hurt him, and he needed to not fail with Sudeep on board, producing at a high cost, he needed to add more elements that are unnatural. Hence, while everyone did try their best, still the believability behind a novelistic bedtime story got lost in the beautiful miniature forest. Well, the dream to deliver a solid horror using a bedtime story style template where abounded witches’ oppressed layman strikes back and that revenge emotion consumes them to become psychotic devils, came only half true like the victim body paint.
Vikrant Rona Review