A few months ago, I tweeted wondering if young filmmakers should avoid working with stars till they have a certain body of work behind them, because the result of such a collaboration does both disservice. Many films proved me right. But, I ate my words today after watching Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Vikram, yes, you heard that right, starring Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi and Fahadh Faasil, because that is what this film is — a Lokesh creation that features prodigious talent.
Thankfully, Lokesh the fanboy shows up only in very few places. And these references are utter joy (especially the portions with actor-director Santhana Bharathi), the whistle-inducing kid. The director and his world of crime and drugs and money and encounters is what makes you sit up and focus for the nearly three-hour runtime. Lokesh was kind enough to, some hours before release, give people homework in the form of a Kaithi reference. And so, in addition to the 1986 Vikram, Kaithi was also watched by many — it helps, because this film’s soul is derived from the crux of those two films. You see the people you heard on the other end of a phone line in Kaithi.
As always, Lokesh peoples his film with men who have an emotional crutch — it could be those smarting from the death of a loved one, or those with the fear of death of a loved one. However, the ceaseless killings are not in revenge — there’s a crutch here again — in the form of an ideology of a drug-free society.
It takes courage to make a film that has Kamal return to the big screen after four years, and give him a dialogue long after we’ve seen him on screen. It also takes courage to be a Vijay Sethupathi — the actor’s physicality lends so much to this film. He does not think twice before walking shirtless, revealing a tattoo that has stretched with girth and a jiggling beer belly.
He’s oily on screen in a way no leading star, especially one who just recently acted in a rom-com, would easily agree to be.
As for Fahadh Faasil, what does one say except you try your best to ignore the eyes and focus on his measured performance, but fail spectacularly. It’s not easy to live out a dialogue that speaks about the aftermath of grief, especially after speaking about how his emotions reside in his head. But, that’s what Fahadh gives you — you hear Naren’s voice and see Fahadh crumble. But, you wonder, while Lokesh pushes the envelope and trusts his audience to tie the multiple strands, could he have trusted us some more to make the link to a previous dialogue and avoided the voiceover?
Contrary to Lokesh’s previous films, there are many many women here (Vijay Sethupathi’s character has three wives, a line that is written to induce some poor laughter), some predictably die, and you can guess it from many miles away, but some give you hints of their character and when the gold coin drops, it’s an ‘aha’ moment. Agent Tina, salute madam!
Revealing anything about the storyline will be a giveaway, so let’s just say it has to do something with the drug haul in Kaithi and leave it at that.
Is Vikram worth the ticket cost? Oh much more than that. Is it worth the hype? Oh yes. Is it THE Kamal film you’ve been waiting to see? Possibly. Lokesh aspires for greatness and crosses 3/4th of the well, but where he falls short is on the emotional core, especially when it comes to characters other than Kamal Haasan — Kamal gets a lovely sequence where he boils milk and tests how hot it is before feeding it to a child! You’re told they love their family and see glimpses of it, but what makes them them? What drives them? What makes Sethupathi’s Sandhanam, the man named after a natural fragrance, but who wears a mask most of the time to keep chemical fumes away, so dangerous? Why does he fear the big boss so much?
As always, Lokesh, a true child of the 90s, doffs his hat at ‘Chakku Chakku Vathikuchi’, the catchy number from Asuran, featuring Mansur Ali Khan. Someday, we will find out about Lokesh’s abiding fascination for Mansur. And, you can never listen to or watch ‘Kalviya Selvama Veerama’ without cracking up again.
The film is beautifully lit by cinematographer Girish Gangadharan, whose camera both swoops in to show you the minutest of facial reactions and pans brilliantly to show you the entire city with one man sitting on a windowsill.
Editor Philomin Raj has had his work cut out — even at 173 minutes, the film does not really lag, and it paced beautifully.
As for Anirudh Ravichander, there’s no one else out there now who can dignify a multi-starrer with a score that is foot-tapping yet soulful.
Stunt choreography by Anbariv is classy, and the brothers specialise in stunts with a story. Look out for the silent sequence, with a sleeping child in the background! The guns are back, in various shapes, sizes and colours, each one opening up to reveal its charms like a brand new Deepavali cracker.
Lokesh writes in an interesting special appearance by Suriya as Rolex and you hear Kaithi Dilli’s voice and see his daughter, a little grown up now. And, Agent Vikram is back in action. Will he team up with Rolex and Dilli in the next? Now that Lokesh has given us back the Kamal we love, can he start work already on that next film? Arambikalaangala?
This Vikram review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.