We’ve seen a lot of generic tropes being made into movies again and again and again. But, if the primal context sticks with the screenplay, the movies that are made out of these tropes will manufacture instant success. Vikram Vedha does this in a way that is different to Tamil cinema. It takes the Good vs Evil concept as the foundation and layers this context with an interesting spin on a cop story by adding the Vikramadityan – Vedhalam riddles in a stylish way with two surreal performers on screen. Another thing that adds an edge to this movie is the non-judgmental way with which things have been presented in front of us, as we’ve been used to movies that usher us to stick onto a single side and root for the protagonist (predominantly.) But, Vikram Vedha is a different movie, and it turns into something special while falling just (only by a millimetre) short of becoming an overpoweringly magnificent movie!
The detailing that is present in this movie is stunning and staggering. It is the white and the black (in possibly their purest form) that accompany Vikram and Vedha when they face each other for the first time. But, the glaring, lurid grey that fills the background is in contrast to Vikram’s theme that there are just 2 sides to human beings as well as any possible scenario they’re involved in as it says that every white and black has some subconsciously identified (as well as unidentified) spots of grey, which, in turn, diminish them into becoming black and white. This detailed thematic representation is seen everywhere in the movie, and when we approach the fag-end, we see Vikram with shades of grey splurging out of the so-called purity of his white. The line that Vikram draws between the Good and the Evil starts disappearing slowly and steadily through the course of him joining the jigsaw pieces of the puzzles thrown at him by Vedha. The Vikramadityan – Vedhalam conundrum is placed oh-so-beautifully so that we are perfectly drawn into the conceits and the traps that the directors set us into. One might ask, “Why the hell Vikram wants to hear the stories and the riddles that Vedha tell him? Why can’t he just shoot him and finish the story of Vedha as soon as he catches him?” But Vikram’s logic becomes the primary answer for these questions. He repeatedly says that one has to judge who’s right and who’s wrong by a single gaze into that person’s eyes and while Vedha tells his first story to Vikram, he sees something in his eyes that kicks his subconscious to tell him that there’s something more than the devilry Vedha possesses. Vedha’s riddles interest Vikram that they go to the extent of occupying his entire mind. That is why he listens to Vedha’s second story, and by the time he starts the process of unraveling the knots and twists of Vedha’s second story, Vedha metamorphoses into his ghost that helps him reach the destination where Vedha wants him to – the destination where truth is hiding in supreme silence.
The next striking factor, as I’ve mentioned already, is the non-judgmental definition of all the characters, which is a refreshing change from what we’ve been witness to in Tamil cinema. The fact that Priya asks for Whiskey and Pulli stripping off as he figures that it is almost impossible to stay angry or mad at someone when they are… naked are thrown in the most casual and matter-of-factly way possible, and Kudos to Pushkar and Gayathri for bringing this casual existence into the characters back as they’ve done in ‘Oram Po’ and ‘Va Quarter Cutting.’ Almost all the roles have been convincingly sketched, and the supporting cast put in an assured, brilliant show (Varalakshmi and Kathir were so convincing in their roles and made a mark within the limited time left for them) which pushes the movie a notch higher. I wished Chandra and Pulli’s story occupied a bit more of the screen time, as I felt it was shortchanged. I also wished to have seen a bit more of Priya towards the end (a stunning Sharaddha Srinath standing toe to toe with Madhavan in terms of performance), but these were small niggles that can easily be neglected when we look at the positives that overpower, outnumber and outweigh these minimal flaws. PS Vinod is only next to the great Santhosh Sivan in terms of setting the frames up and making them look intriguing. It is his brilliance with camera that makes us look at even the very few of the dull moments with the same intrigue and awe that was there in the other scenes, along with some timely help from the editor who keeps cutting us with proper transition from scene to scene and the way with which a scene’s closure has been handled is exemplary. I’ve been in love with the work of Sam CS from the date he released his first album, and Vikram Vedha has pushed into the bigger league. The overpowering ‘Rararara rara raaa…’ that accompanies the background score will reverberate long after one leaves the theatre.
Speaking of positives, the main positive has to be the casting of Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi in the titular roles. I felt no one could’ve justice to those roles in the current crop of actors. Madhavan’s Vikram is an upright police officer, but he is also a cocky personality and he would mend and bend ways to achieve what he feels is right. Maddy brought that thin line of difference out in a seemingly effortless manner, and I can’t think of any mainstream actor who is happy to let the other lead take centre stage and act an anchor or a device of the other lead in consecutive movies other than him. Vijay Sethupathi’s Vedha comes only after we are 30 minutes into the movie, but the dialogues that prop and build his nature do more than enough to get a raucous response when the man arrives on scene. He is fantastic as Vedha, and he shows the evolution of his character and also the development of different shades of Vedha as the timeline changes. Heck, even the physical transformation was spot on. His subtle comical timing and the way he uses his sarcastic side are more than brilliant and adds a lot of spice to the movie. These two defining performances hold things together, and the chemistry between these two exemplary actors puts the movie up in a different league. This chemistry also helped us buy into the climax where the movie suddenly puts itself into a buddy-cop scenario. These little, little things make us sit on the edge of our seats as the movie conveniently changes its course from a crime drama to a neo-noir thriller and to a jigsaw puzzle solver while breaking the lines of the Good and the Evil which were laid as the foundation to build all these puzzles. This is one movie that is going to stand the test of time, and despite its minimal shortcomings, is a stunningly acted, wonderfully made movie that is a beguiling, brilliant watch!
“Kozhaiyum Veeranum Ondru!! Veeramaana Kozhaiyum Undu!! ”
Yedhu Dhramam? – Well, they have let us find a suitable answer for that question, and I hope we find one!