'Vikrant Rona' Review: A fun-filled spectacle brought to life by Kiccha Sudeep’s larger-than-life performance

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

Murtaza Ali Khan

A vast majority of the film critics in the country currently find themselves in a rather precarious situation, particularly the ones who primarily review Hindi films. The problem doesn’t lie with their understanding of cinema but it actually lies with their inability to understand the changing audience tastes. Burdened by experience acquired through years of movie viewing, they fail to understand that change is the only constant. How can you continue to judge the movies based on the same parameters that worked for you about a decade back? Imagine a bunch of pollsters who always get the election results wrong because they are still using outdated methods for sample collection. For how long can they go on making the wrong predictions? If Hindi-dubbed versions of South Indian films like ‘Pushpa,’ ‘RRR,’ and ‘KGF 2,’ and ‘Vikram’ are loved by the Hindi film audiences in spite of negative reviews from the Hindi film critics then it clearly proves that the critics have lost the connect with the audiences. And, so, it’s high time they updated their reviewing methods.   

‘Vikrant Rona’ is the latest in the series of Hindi-dubbed movies from South India that many Hindi film critics have panned. Ironically, the reaction from the audiences on the social media is exactly the opposite. What these critics have described as ‘confusing’ and ‘superficial’ is actually being loved by a vast majority of the audiences as evident from the reactions on the social media. What the critics don’t realize is that the makers of these South Indian films are actually very smart people who know well what they are doing. When half way through Vikrant Rona one comes across a dazzling fight scene that seems to hark back to ‘The Matrix’ trilogy but not without a dash of ‘John Wick’ one knows for sure that the director is in complete command. But, of course, the critics wouldn’t talk about any of the superlative fight scenes that the film offers. Nevertheless, the audiences are thrilled to watch them.

Made in Kannada and dubbed in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam, Vikrant Rona is set in a fictitious village in an undisclosed, bygone era. When the villagers start encounters mysterious occurrences as the children go missing, the rugged, cigar-smoking, no-nonsense cop Vikrant Rona must take it upon himself to unlock the mystery in the ghostly town in the middle of a dense forest where it keeps raining all the time. Essayed by Sandalwood superstar Kiccha Sudeep, Vikrant Rona is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. With hardly any back-story on offer, one begins to question the reason behind the character’s drive. What’s even more perplexing is that he is always without uniform and even brandishes a beard that’s not usually associated with cops. As the plot thickens one can’t help but suspect Rona’s intentions. What is it that he actually wants?

Kiccha Sudeep gives us a character for the ages. It’s his larger-than-life portrayal that makes Vikrant Rona so memorable. Here’s a fascinating character that comes across as a cross between Sherlock Holmes and James Bond. Also, he reminds one of Indiana Jones, especially when he picks up his whip. And the dialogue deliver in the Hindi-dubbed version bears an uncanny resemblance to Chulbul Pandey. Interestingly, the Hindi-dubbed version is presented by none other than Salman Khan. If that’s not enough to stamp Salman Khan’s authority on the film, there is also a memorable cameo from Jacqueline Fernandez. The item number ‘Ra Ra Rakkamma’ is already a party favorite.  

One of the film’s greatest strengths is its unrelenting mood, which seems to be straight out of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories. The credit goes to director Anup Bhandari’s guileful, crafty storytelling, William David’s cinematography, B Ajaneesh Loknath’s background score, and 800 odd VFX artists who have worked to create the film’s riveting world. A lot of the Bollywood films in the recent times have suffered because of poor VFX owing to considerably low budgets assigned for CGI & VFX. The trouble is that all the Bollywood male stars charge an exorbitant fee. And if one speaks of the 5-6 superstars in the Hindi film industry then take away the lion’s share of the film’s budget, at times even up to 70 percent of a film’s total budget. As a result the film’s production suffers.

In Hollywood, the actors perhaps make a lot more money but their fee is still only a small percentage of the film’s overall budget. This ensures that the film’s production values aren’t compromised. Perhaps, Bollywood needs to learn a lesson from the South Indian stars. In today’s age and time when OTT platforms have proven to be a game changer, the big screen viewing experience can only survive if the films made for the theatres don’t comprise on their production values. Just think of the spectacle that Marvel and DC create or the ones that South Indian industries have started creating. The logic may be fallible (critics can complain as much as they like but it’s definitely not a deal breaker for the audiences) but if the VFX is shoddy then such a film has little hope at the box-office.

A version of this review was first published in The Daily Guardian.

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