Vikram—Hit List pulls out all emotional stops

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Kamal Haasan plays the title-role in Vikram—Hit List. Photo: Universal Communications

When the film first released in Hindi, the movie halls in Mumbai and its satellite towns had sporadic shows here and there, at odd times too (late nights) and on a day-to-day basis. Multiplexes cancel any film show today if a certain minimum tickets are unsold, even at the last moment. I thus waited for the mandatory interim for the movie to come on a streaming platform.

While watching it, and the film took 30-45 minutes of convolutions in the narrative for it to become comprehensible amidst the overload of violence and action, I realized that Kamal Haasan and the writer-director had pulled out all the emotional stops. KGF 2 had the mother-son bond, here it was the attachment between a grandfather and a grandson. A key character’s wife is also murdered here, just as in that film. However, Vikram was not all sound and fury. It had a purpose, an aim and lots to reveal.

The suspense is maintained brilliantly, with Karnan (Kamal Haasan) being killed in an explosion at the very beginning and appearing in flashbacks as a man who is known for alcoholism, womanizing and more even as he is a doting grandpa to his infant son. Investigating officer Amar (Fahadh Faasil) unravels the layers of the story even as we come to know why a desperate criminal, Sandhanam (Vijay Sethupati) is killing every obstacle in his path as he wants a crucial drug consignment.

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The violence is graphic, many a scene brutal, and the head count keeps increasing of both the ‘good’ people and the ‘illegal’ ones. The end paves the way for a possible sequel. After Kaithi (2019), with some characters repeated, this is the second installment of director Lokesh’s LCU or Lokesh Cinematic Universe). There is now the hint of a third film after this movie’s terrific business down South, even if the Hindi figures are meager.

But, again unlike KGF 2, there is genuine style here, and an object lesson to Hindi film heroes to join forces instead of being cooped up in their own cocoon of egos. Cinematic universes, come Hollywood, Hindi cinema or South Indian, need multi-hero setups, and even outside these, heroes need to join forces in well-written scripts, as was the case with Hindi cinema from the 1970s to 1990s, with rare cases later.

The cinematography (Girish Gangadharan), technical values and background score (Anirudh Ravichander) are of exceptional quality. I searched the ‘Net in vain for the Hindi dialogues writer, for he too has done a good job. The VFX and DI are outstanding and the action (Anbariv) excellent. The brief but superb fight sequence with Vasanthi as Agent Tina stands out for ist ferocious intensity.

Kamal Haasan shows his extraordinary talent in a complex role as Karnan,who is actually Vikram. As a title to the film, he tributes his 1986 hit of the same name. Vijay Sethupati is simply brilliant as the drug lord, and Fahad Faasil is superlative as the cop with a mysterious aura. Narain as Inspector Bejoy and Gowtham Sundararajan as Veerapandian stand out from the rest of the perfect cast.

On the whole, a very novel approach to an anti-drug crime drama, Vikram leaves us wanting a sequel of the same caliber.

Rating: ***1/2 

Disney+Hotstar presents Raajkamal Films International’s Vikram Hit List (Hindi) Produced by: Kamal Haasan & R. Mahendran  Directed by: Lokesh Kanagaraj  Written by: Lokesh Kanagaraj & Rathna Kumar Music: Anirudh Ravichander Starring: Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupati, Fahadh Faasil, Suriya (Special Appearance), Narain, Kalidas Jayaram, Santhana Bharathi, Elango Kumaravel, Chemban Vinod Jose, Hareesh Peradi, Gayathrie Shankar, Swathishta Krishnan, Dharsan, Gowtham Sundararajan, G. Marimuthu, Vasanthi, Maya S. Krishnan, Arjun Das, Harish Uthaman, Dheena, Monica & others

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