It was a dull Sunday evening and we had planned to not go anywhere in the maddening Bangalore traffic. The kids had returned home after their games in the layout and were tired and bored as well. We decided to make it interesting for the kids and decided on a fun late evening family time.
The idea was to buy some snacks and watch a movie. Deciding on the snacks was the easier option. Having not had any pizza for quite sometime, they wanted us to get them pizzas and garlic bread from Dominos. The more difficult choice was the movie. The kids wanted some animation film. The wife and I were not that keen on watching animation. I have also had my fair share of animation over the last few days – Jungle Book at the cinema halls and The Good Dinosaur that was screened in the layout mini-theater. The wife was not keen on any dishum-dishum action movies as they always left her with a splitting headache.
The choice naturally was to be made by me. I chose an old action film – something that the kids may like – and that too a Kamal film, something that the wife may like. I nailed down on Vikram and Vetri Vizha. We decided to watch Vikram.
Now for those who had not seen Vikram – this is Kamal’s attempt in 1984 to make something along the lines of a James Bond film. He plays Vikram – the suave central intelligence agency spy who is also thronged by beautiful women. Music by Ilaiyaraja was another attraction factor for me.
I remember that Vikram was a flop. I remember having seen the movie as a kid in school and not relishing the storyline. But when I watched the film last Sunday, I was trying to figure out why I did not like it then. The film was slickly made (considering the timeline that it was made), had a pretty decent screenplay that did not lag at most places (the only lagging scene was probably the meendum meendum vaa song that could have been handled at the editing table). There were some excesses that could have been avoided like the religious guru spitting into the food, the gross eating of food items by the king, etc.
But what I felt on watching the film was that it lacked production quality. Maybe, just maybe, Kamal and Sujatha made this a little ahead of their times. Had the same movie been made even 5 years later, say during Vetri Vizha time frame, this movie would have been a lot better. It was very clear from many scenes that Kamal must have had a budget problem – the tacky special effects, the poor office sets, the lack of clarity in the camera work with many scenes suffering from poor lighting, etc. Vikram could have been a franchise had this film had better production values. If Singam could have sequels, then Vikram definitely deserved a couple of them. 🙂
The music was pretty good – I liked the BGM more than the songs where Raja had tried to be pretty subtle and innovative. The staging of some of the scenes were amateurish – again reflecting the time when directors staged as if they were staging a play.
Kamal was looking extremely handsome – aptly fitting into the role of the suave spy. His costumes accentuated his role pretty well (Vani?) and thankfully he did not have extended romantic scenes in the film (except the Meendum Meendum song which was avoidable). As he says very clearly in the film – “enakku ithukkellaam neram kidaiyathu!“
The role of Preethi however hit a wrong note. For someone who is shown as a brainy geek (Computer Science, IIT Madras – she says proudly), her characterization came across as a clueless girl. She could have been provided a more meaty role. Manorama’s character was wasted. Amjad Khan and Dimple Kapadia play their roles pretty well.
Kamal was again ahead of his times – he created the Salamia country’s language in this film – a technique much later adopted by Cameron in Avatar and by Rajmouli in Bahubali. It was probably ahead of its times for the audience too who may not have related much to the story line. The film does not use the word “Terrorist” for Sathyaraj and his hencmen. The popular term then was “International Criminals” – again a reflection of the film using cross border terrorism when it was unknown to its audience.
Vikram left me with the feeling that this was a film that had a lot of promise, but failed to live up to it due to budgetary constraints and probably even lack of technology that was available in India during those times.
Vikram could definitely have been a trend setter…a film that promised so much. If only…..!