When Vedha is introduced in Vikram Vedha, Vijay Sethupathi looms large in the lens. For a few moments, it’s just Vedha, his hulking frame, the salt and pepper hair. He stalks towards the police headquarters as the camera trails behind in reverence. It just adores Vedha. That’s the introduction scene the movie bestows on Vijay Sethupathi who seems to tower over everyone else in the picture. It could just be the reserved-for-heroes low-angle shot, or his height, one can never tell. But, Vikram Vedha’s obvious admiration for its antagonist is something that isn’t camouflaged. It lets Vedha stalk down the columns of cops – a head above them all – readying for an encounter, oblivious to the fact that their target is walking past them. The camera watches his stride, matches pace, gazes at the sea of cops lost in their own world. The whole sequence meets with thunderous applause, appreciative hoots.
Sam CS rises to the occasion, and employs a musical refrain to serve up Vijay Sethupathi all through the movie. He also skillfully manipulates the intensity of notes to suit the scene. During an instance, which is terrifying and brilliant at the same time, the phrase is accented, and the notes are on a high. It’s almost worthy of a horror movie.
And Sam CS, I come to know, has indeed scored for a couple of them.
When Madhavan as Vikram, is introduced a good few minutes before Vijay Sethupathi, he receives half as much warmth.
He’s cheered, but while Vijay Sethupathi is made much of, not unlike Rajini in Thalapathi. He’s the Arjun of Vikram Vedha. A tough, law-abiding, stickler for rules police-man, who, as Vedha declares, doesn’t see the grey. He’s impulsive, petulant, shoots at the drop of the hat. But, he is a cop. A cop who literally draws a line, places the good on one side, and bad on the other.
Funnily enough, Vikram Vedha begins with the health advisory. It is a prelude of sorts to the two-hour long affair. Madhavan issues the advisory in English; Vijay Sethupathi does it in Tamil. Unintended perhaps, but the casting decision is explained away there, and Pushkar-Gayathri, whatever their reasons, seem to hint that Madhavan, who embodies everything ‘good’ and VS, who signifies the ‘bad’ are perhaps advocating the same thing – in different languages. This is a good realisation. Vedha, with whom the camera and the crew are obviously in love, imparts some serious life lessons to Vikram. And, he begins with a tale. It probably wouldn’t be a surprise if ‘oru kadhai sollata saar’ becomes the stuff of memes, or is heard years later like those Thalapathi dialogues.
If anything, Vikram Vedha satisfactorily explores the grey in just about everything it touches upon. Inter and intra-personal relationships, integrity, and also, the situation of a couple who find themselves on opposite sides of a case. Vikram, who is interrogating Vedha, is interrupted by a knock on the door. Vikram’s wife (Shraddha Srinath), the lawyer representing Vedha, has come to bail him out. It’s perhaps one of the most clever plot tricks in the film.
It’s not hard to understand what Vikram Vedha means to achieve. When the movie begins, an animated sequence featuring Vikramadityan and the famous Vetalam, which has inspired many a Tamil saying – an especial favourite involving the Vetalam and a moringa tree – serves as another prelude. It ends with Vetalam having Vikramaditya by his neck.
Pushkar-Gayathri’s casting is almost too perfect.
Madhavan is the well-spoken, slick, smart police-man, Vikram. Vijay Sethupathi as gangster Vedha has a rich local flavour.
It’s a shame that they didn’t swap roles. I would have loved to see Madhavan play a local gangster, for one. And, lovely, roguish Vijay Sethupathi as the honest-for-the-world-to-see cop.
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