Film: ‘Vikram Vedha’
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Radhika Apte
Stars: 3.5 out of 5
The politics of morality is fascinating and murky, and Saif Ali Khan and Hrithik Roshan’s new action thriller ‘Vikram Vedha’ exploits that belief in a brilliantly bombastic manner.
Two strapping heroes — a scrupulous cop and a violent criminal — indulge in a fierce battle of wills and mind games in this testosterone-charged action thriller. It’s all about might and swagger.
Vikram (Khan) and Vedha (Roshan) have contrasting moral compasses, with one being on the right side of law and the other flouting it callously, but your loyalties keep shifting throughout the film.
This is one of the rare Bollywood films where the tug of war is between two equally sturdy talents with immense star power. Both Khan and Roshan do the heavy lifting with studied ease. If hunky Roshan as the gruff rakish gangster is compelling and towering, Khan as a trigger-happy encounter specialist is suitably suave.
Set in Lucknow (filmed largely in Abu Dhabi dressed up as the Indian city), the thriller — a remake of the 2017 Tamil blockbuster by the same director duo — opens with police officer Vikram busting a criminal ring in the most brutal manner. The opening scene is a heady concoction of police brutality and hyper masculinity, but Vikram and his team of police officers sell it well. Their ultimate goal is to hunt down the dreaded gangster Vedha and each of their bloody, bullet-spraying operations bring them one step closer to their sole target.
But the true fun begins when the ever-elusive Vedha — Roshan in his unwashed and scruffy glory — enters their life on his own volition. The best scenes are the ones where Khan and Roshan indulge in word play about ethics, moral dilemmas, and who’s truly evil or good.
These two seasoned actors — who also look the part — are in their element as they make their mutual disdain for the other known. The film largely works because of its towering lead actors and the bizarre twists and turns.
The key is to go with the flow here. If you begin wondering about the makers’ fetish for gun violence and romanticising police brutality, then you are unlikely to enjoy this action bonanza. But here’s the deal: this is one of those films that is an unapologetic paean to brawn and bluster.
Director duo Gayatri-Pushkar do a neat job of extracting the best from their actors.
Actress Radhika Apte, who plays a lawyer and Vikram’s wife, has a limited role but manages to carve her place in this hyper-male masala film. The conflicts between her cop husband and her is realistically shown. She’s wonderfully restrained as she questions her own husband and his way of functioning as a police officer.
There may be times when the mind games between a stoic cop and hardened criminal might get repetitive, but then you are immediately given a booster shot with some spectacularly choreographed action sequences. Yes, there are slow motions and dramatic hero entries galore, but that’s the best part about this film.
The perfectly executed stunts by the actors are worth your time. Both the lead players approach their roles with absolute conviction. Roshan’s agility as he swoops down buildings and evades arrests even when he’s outnumbered by cops reminds you of old-fashioned machismo and hero invincibility, but you still run with it as a viewer. Both the cop and criminal come across as rebels with some worthy cause. Clap/whistle-inducing dialogues like ‘Devil is in the details’ also help chug things along.
Perfect for a one-time watch at the cinemas, ‘Vikram Vedha’ is a hero-laden visual spectacle. Watch this if you are in the mood to see two boys-turned-men battle it out with wits and bulk.
Don’t miss it!
‘Vikram Vedha’ is out now in UAE cinemas.