In Kaithi, when Karthi’s Dilli gets stabbed multiple times and yet bounces back, it doesn’t really stick out to damage the movie primarily because of the mood set by Lokesh Kanakaraj till that point. And there is a sense of mystery about that character. It’s no longer a secret that Lokesh’s new movie Vikram, starring Kamal Haasan as the title protagonist, is set in the same universe. And Vikram also goes after this ambitious hero-worshipping style-centered narration, and it works! With Kamal Haasan unleashing his swagger along with a well-balanced screenplay that accommodates all the characters, I found Vikram as a thoroughly entertaining action package.
A terrorist group kills two police officers in the narcotics wing along with the father of one of the officers. There was a seven-day window between each killing. Police hired a private investigative team led by Amar to find out about the gang. What we see in Vikram is Amar’s probe and what he finds in that investigation.
In Kaithi, when George Maryan as that only police officer, decided to stand up against that mob of gangsters, it gave a cinematic high to that whole film. It was something that we weren’t expecting in that package. In Vikram also, Lokesh Kanagaraj is making a deliberate effort to make it less of a multi-starrer cliche. There is less hero-balancing happening in the script, and in fact, Kamal Haasan is hardly there in the film’s first half. The only area I found a bit disappointing is in the writing part of Vijay Sethupathi’s character. While others contributed in a better way, Santhanam somewhere felt like a mere villain.
The signature eccentricity Kamal Haasan has is used in Vikram to bring out those moments of swagger. The sentiments bit are minimal, and because of the roughness of the character, it isn’t that loud. But Kamal brings out the niceness in that character very smoothly. Fahadh Faasil, with those Varathan/Iyyob kind of fast moves, is extremely convincing, and I hope he will try to bring new variations when similar roles are offered again.
Vijay Sethupathi was able to make tweaks to his presentation of Santhanam in a way that makes it distinguishable from the other characters he has done. Even though the character and his actions have a role in maneuvering the narrative, a compelling factor was not there in the case of Santhanam. Narain reprises his role from Kaithi as Bejoy. Chemban Vinod Jose made his role very memorable. Kalidas Jayaram and Gayathri Shankar are also there in the cast. The actor who played the part of the domestic aid in Karnan’s house deserves a special mention.
In Master, when Lokesh Kanagaraj tried to create a generic mass masala film, huge chunks of the screenplay felt inconsequential when you look at the film in totality. In Vikram, even though the movie is long and has done the fanservice in various areas, it never deviates from the main plot. Even that Pathala Pathala song is given a reason at a later point. Just like Kaithi, even though the heroism is over the top, the movie never moves away from its focus. The set pieces are scaled up, and I must say it works on the big screen, and I am sure the visual effects imperfections will be visible when it streams on Disney Plus Hotstar.
Girish Gangadharan’s frames have too much of blacks, just like how Lokesh likes them. The visuals have the style factor, and along with Anirudh’s tracks, the aura building is done correctly. The bolt camera-based stunt sequences were also catchy, and I felt Bheeshma Parvam sequences using that cam had a more stylish output. Philomin Raj’s intercuts help the movie a lot in being engaging.
A story that has style, swagger, and characters; is what Vikram is for me. It was an idea that could have gone terribly wrong if it focused on heroes rather than characters. But Lokesh Kanagaraj is more in control here, and despite the over-the-top nature of the movie, I found the narrative really engaging. The Suriya cameo gave the movie the kind of high it needed to conclude. Looking at the placement of that character, LCU is beginning to feel like a star-driven franchise that allows the star to do something different from the usual.
With Kamal Haasan unleashing his swagger along with a well-balanced screenplay that accommodates all the characters, I found Vikram as a thoroughly entertaining action package.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended