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A Tale of Two Remakes: Laal Singh Chadda & Vikram Vedha

Remake is an emotive issue both for the makers as well as for the audience.

A Tale of Two Remakes: Laal Singh Chadda & Vikram Vedha

Sentinel Digital Desk


The urge to tell or rather retell a story is based on a variety of factors, ranging from deep artistic compulsion to pure commercial consideration. After the Covid induced lull, two remakes have recently hit the theaters, Lal Singh Chaddha and Vikram Vedha. Riding on a combined budget of 400 crores, and backed by some of the biggest names in the industry, both the films were bound to whip up expectations.

In terms of plot, scope, and the thematic appeal, both those movies widely differ from each other. But the fact that they are the remakes of hugely successful films, adds a completely new context to the film making craft. There is an argument that to remake is to play safe, but the acceptability of the statement is debatable. Time and again it has been proved that it is difficult to gauge or predict the audience reaction. Their taste keeps on changing. It requires a genius to know their pulse or perhaps a super genius to make the pulse beat as per the filmmaker's need.

Laal Singh Chaddha is the official remake of the classic Hollywood film Forrest Gump. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film chronicles the journey of the main protagonist Forrest Gump played by the indomitable Tom Hanks. He traverses a landscape dotted with the millstones of American history intricately woven with his personal trials and tribulations.

The riveting perspective that Forrest Gump offers to the mundane and his idiocracy laden elucidation of the milieu, becomes, in a way, a mocking commentary on our purposeless complexities. To be simple is to be the most subtle, to follow your heart is the most profound of all philosophies.

Robert Zemickes handles the story with lyrical precision, forcing us to connect with our purest and unadulterated self. In a way, he compels us to draw out the Forrest Gump from the depth of our being.

It requires courage to remake a movie like this. Amir Khan deserves a round of applause. But the appreciation should stop here. Laal Singh Chaddha is nowhere near what Forrest Gump is. All it becomes is a soulless copy of the original, a mannequin masquerading as human.

To say it plainly, Forrest Gump is an idiot. Robert Zemeckis, works through an idiot making us doubt our core values. Tom Hanks plays the part so convincingly, that by the end of the film he seemed to have switched places with us.

Amir Khan's portrayal of Laal Sing Chaddha makes a caricature of the original character. His open- eyed expression, jerky movements, and exaggerated dressing missed the target by a mile. So distant he becomes from his own world, that the audience is left stranded.

The scene where Forrest Gump decides to go for a run, wearing the shoes gifted by Jenny is the high point of the story. He does what his heart tells him to do without assigning any reason. The build-up to this scene is a master class in filmmaking. Lal Singh Chaddha copies the sequence in all its details, from the camera movement to the shot division, but fails to evoke the same feeling.

Vikram Vedha, is a remake of the Tamil film of the same name. Directed by the husband and wife duo Puskar-Gayatri, it was released in the year 2017. The action-packed thriller, with a liberal dose of muscles, guns, and bloody limbs received an enthusiastic response in the box office, prompting its remake in hindi. If one keeps aside its non-linear structure, the core narrative is typical of numerous gangster movies churned out by both north and south.

So what then is different about Vikram Vedha? The genesis of a good movie starts with a good story. A relatable, entertaining story, cutting across varied sensibilities, gives a film a solid foundation. But at times, a mediocre or an ordinary story may hit the chord with the audiences because of the way it has been told.

Vikram Vedha falls into this second category. The director duo took a seemingly run of the mill concept and recast it to fit the Indian mythological narrative of Vikram and Betaal. Betaal narrates Vikram a story and at the end asks him a question. The answer would be his ticket to freedom. Vikram Vedha is built on this intriguing premise.

This worked fine and the result is there for everyone to see. The Hindi version freely borrows from the Tamil one. This is understandable, given the director and his production team has remained more or less the same. But the Hindi remake made a subtle addition that made this movie stand apart from its earlier version.

It is the fabulous reinterpretation of Vedhas character by Hrithik Roshan From his stylized rugged look to nuanced expression; he had completely gone a different way as compared to Vijay Sethupati. The result is two version of the same character, a feat rare in cinema. It makes the film enjoyable, even to those who had devoured the Tamil version.

The film has its moments. A fight sequence set to a Mahammad Rafi song, brings in reminiscence of the legendary director John Woo, who shot action sequences like ballet. The symbolism included in the last section by making both Vikram and Vedha wear a slight variation of black, represents the blurring line between good and bad or rather greater bad and lesser bad.

For whatever reasons, remakes are here to stay. It goes without saying that a story told with the heart and with honesty will always find its audience. Laal Singh Chadda is a brave film but poorly executed, Vikram Vedha is made watchable by its honest execution. In this regard one of Ingmar Bergman's film making commandments is worth revisiting; Thou 'shall entertain at all times', but he cautions that this doesn't mean 'one should prostitute his talent'.

By: Emon NC

Also Read: Madirakshi Mundle: An Inspiration in the Mythological Genre of TV Show

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