Trade Talk: Crucial week for Hindi cinema
Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan are together again after 20 years for a Hindi remake of the 2017 Tamil hit Vikram Vedha.
This is a decisive, almost momentous week at the box office, with two of the most expensive and spectacular films of the year making their dual appearance at the turnstiles.
The directorial duo Pushkar-Gayatri’s Vikram Vedha clearly has an edge over Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan 1, especially in the Northern belt of the country where Mani’s movie is being seen as a “dubbed film”. This perception is not entirely untrue, as Ponniyin Selvan is Tamil film dubbed into Hindi.
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When was the last time a dubbed Tamil film did well in Hindi? Mani Ratnam’s Bombay? That came 32 years ago. Telugu films dubbed into Hindi have been doing well lately. Tamil films in Hindi do not really have a market in Hindi. Ponniyin Selvan can change that. Mani Ratnam’s magic has been missing in his recent Tamil movies. This time he is reaching out to an all-India audience. Hopefully, the awe-inspiring aura of his earlier works will come alive once again.
Interestingly Mani apart, most of the distinguished cast in Ponniyin Selvan have not had a success in a very long time. The film’s leading man Vikram’s last release Cobra was a massive failure. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s last release was the flop Fanney Khan in 2018.
Vikram Vedha on the other hand has a sizeable buzz surrounding its release, thanks mainly to Hrithik Roshan who has not had a release in four years. Hrithik’s War in October 2018 was a blockbuster.
Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan are together again after 20 years for a Hindi remake of the 2017 Tamil hit Vikram Vedha. Hrithik and Saif play the cop and the criminal that Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi played in the original. The two actors were last seen together in director Arjun Sablok’s Na Tum Jano Na Hum in 2002 where Hrithik had the stronger far more pivotal role.
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The equation has changed in 20 years. Back then Saif did supporting roles for bigger stars like Hrithik and Shah Rukh Khan (Kal Ho Naa Ha). Saif no longer plays second leads.
So it’s a battle of the titans, one way or another, at the box office this week
Vikram Vedha, though a remake, has a definite edge. The co-directors Pushkar-Gayatri have not done a cut-and-paste of the original. In fact, I predict that after seeing Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan in the Hindi version audiences will return to the Tamil version of Vikram Vedha to see Vijay Sethupathi and Madhavan once again.
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.
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