Returning to the big screen after four long years, Indian star Kamal Haasan has proved yet again that he is an uber-talented actor and a trendsetter when it comes to his films. Vikram, which released in theatres on June 3, 2022, is one of the best Indian films to emerge at this point and even in the actor’s career one would add.
Kamal Haasan’s 1986 film Vikram is not a prequel per se to his 2022 film but a starting point to it which could now set off a highly ambitious cinematic universe that could spin off in various directions.
Written and directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj, who is one of Kamal Haasan’s biggest fans, the movie also stars Fahadh Faasil, Vijay Sethupathi with a cameo by Suriya. Just before Vikram released on Friday, Lokesh asked fans to revisit his earlier film Kaiththi, and one finds that this film is actually part of the Kaiththi universe and takes off from where that film ended.
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Drug busts throughout the state are being carried out by the Tamil Nadu narcotics bureau when two containers of drugs vanish into thin air. The local drug distribution gangs, headed by Sandhanam (Vijay Sethupathi), are on a mission to find the missing drugs before the dreaded drug lord Rolex (Suriya) finds out about it and sets off on a revenge spree. Meanwhile, the narcotics bureau sees some of its officials, including Prapanjan (Kalidas Jayaram), killed by a masked gang which declares war against the system, and the police are on a hunt to nab these masked men. Police chief Jose (Chemban Vinod Jose) brings in a special black ops team led by Amar (Fahadh Faasil) to go after these masked men.
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We are introduced to Karnan (Kamal Haasan), the alcoholic, womaniser and no gooder, who seems to get himself involved more in brawls than being a good grandfather to his grandson. It’s then revealed that Karnan is in fact agent Vikram (from the 1986 film) who is out to seek revenge for his son’s murder. What might have been a simple revenge drama now becomes about special agents, missions and crime lords.
Vikram is not just a Kamal Haasan movie but also a Fahadh Faasil and Vijay Sethupathi film. Both these actors have roles with excellent character arcs and scope for performance, and both men deliver in style. Lokesh has superbly utilised both the actors’ physique effectively in the roles he has written for them. Evidently the movie revolves around Kamal Haasan but we see more of the actor in the second half where he plays to his greater strengths, thanks to the sub-plots and flashbacks that carry the story forward.
Throughout the film, we see Lokesh’s nods to Kamal Haasan’s stellar repertoire of work from Nayagan to Anbe Sivam to Panchathanthiram and other films. At a run time of around 173 minutes, the movie does have its flaws and could have been edited a little tighter but the performances of the actors, dark humour, unexpected twists and the excellent action scenes choreographed by Anbariv, keep us completely engaged.
The violence in the film may not be everyone’s cup of tea but given that it’s about special agents and gangsters, these high-octane action scenes are to be expected.
Girish Gangadharan’s cinematography and Philomin Raj’s editing must be appreciated but it is music director Anirudh Ravichander who truly steals the show. Anirudh’s BGM takes the adrenaline rush of this film to another level which makes the film more enjoyable. All in all, Lokesh Kanagaraj has delivered a film to reckon with and the spin-offs from Vikram (2022) are now eagerly awaited.