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The buzz that Vikram 2022 had was unprecedented. The teaser was intended to satisfy the expectations of those who felt Kamal hadn’t played action hero in a long time. Snap previews and media updates only served to heighten the excitement. Even before the film’s release, deals worth more than a hundred crore were signed for digital, TV, OTT and other rights.
Virumandi, Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu, Dasavatharam, Papanasam and a few others were the only hits in the last twenty years for Ulaga Nayagan, World Hero. Director Lokesh Kanakaraj is a self-confessed fan, having grown up on Sathya and Virumandi. Has he delivered a hit with Vikram 2022?
Lokesh’s previous film, Kaidhi ends with hero Karthi handing over the drugs he seized from the villains to police officer Bijoy, played by Naren. Vikram 2020 begins where Kaidhi ends.
In Vikram 2022, police officer Prabanjan, played by Kalidas Jayaram, hides two container loads of narcotics from the gang led by Santhanam, played by Vijay Sethupathy. Prabanjan adopts Karnan, played by Kamal Haasan, as his father. Karnan grows is a dandy who loves wine, women and narcotics.
Where Vikram 2022 truly scores is that it makes a decisive turn away from the self-absorbed Kamal films of recent times. Even Periyathambi from Village Cooking channel gets close-up shots.
A hooded gang murders Karnan. A black squad headed by Amar (Fahad Fazil) tries to find out who the killers are and zeroes in on Santhanam. The three-hour film tries to answer all the questions that this mysterious and suspenseful opening raises.
The teaser had Kamal serving biryani and then charging up to bash up baddies. Though that particular sequence is not there in the film, the entire movie is a bullet biryani for viewers.
There are enough characters to spice up the hot action concoction: Semban Vinod Jose’s police team, Fahad Fazil’s folks, Vijay Sethupathi’s henchmen, and Kamal’s coterie. The original Vikram featured a rocket hijack, journey to Salamia, cavorting with a princess and a dance troupe. While it wasn’t a commercial hit, Kakki Sattai released at the same time was pronounced a hit.
Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Vikram 2022 is the sum total of all the action heroes Kamal played in the 1980s. Barring a resemblance between the Vikram-Ambika sequences and Fahad-Gayathri ones, there is little else to relate Vikram 2022 with Vikram 1986.
The director has taken care to give good play to Fazil in the first half and Vijay Sethupathi in the second half. But what connects the two is Karnan.
In a way, Vikram 2022 redeems Kamal. When was the last time our own much loved and much hated Ulaga Nayagan strode on the screen with majesty? Seems like a long time ago…
Kaidhi characters have been transported to Vikram. Only Bharathiraja pulled off something similar way back in the 1970s with Kizhakke Pogum Rayil and Pathinaru Vayathinile.
Vikram 2022 uses film songs from the past with much effect. Ilaiyaraja’s Vikram 1986 title song has been revisited in 2022 and it sounds better than anything the techno-whiz Anirudh could serve up. Even the Pathikichu song composed by Adithyan in the 90s is reprised. A historical number, Kalviya Selvama Veerama from Saraswathi Sabatham, in the second half seems to be contrary to what’s happening on screen but perhaps gives a humorous perspective for viewers.
It does seem incongruous that a political leader who is forthright about violence in society should use the gun like a musical instrument on the screen in Vikram 2022
Kamal’s coterie in the film industry is used deftly by Lokesh to create some memorable characters. The screenplay ensures that viewers don’t ask if the members of the coterie have no life of their own – such is their devotion to Kamal.
Where Vikram 2022 truly scores is that it makes a decisive turn away from the self-absorbed Kamal films of recent times. More than a dozen characters share screen space and time and nearly all the characters are well developed. They all get their screen time and space to justify the three-hour movie. Even Periyathambi from Village Cooking channel gets close-up shots.
The noirish cinematography of Girish Gangadharan sets the right mood. Anirudh’s bgm adds gusto. The director has sought to drown the lack of logical grounding with violence, and that is jarring.
When Kamal acted in Virumandi, his fans wanted him to work with talented directors such as Lingusamy, Dharani, Bala, Hari and others to make memorable cinema. Though he had a Gautam Menon Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu, Kamal’s collaborations with Mishkin, Selvaraghavan and Bharatbala were non-starters. Perhaps Kamal has made up for that with Lokesh Kanagaraj.
Though the film is against drugs, there’s too much of it, portraying that world seem larger than life. Guns have an outsized presence, too. This may have been acceptable for any actor but Kamal dons a bigger role now – the head of a political party that stands for certain principles and has a positive vision for society.
It does seem incongruous that a political leader who is forthright about violence in society should use the gun like a musical instrument on the screen in Vikram 2022. If viewers find no contradiction, then it would mean they don’t take Kamal’s politics seriously.
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