Film Review: Vikrant Rona is good but falls just short of being great!
  • Release Date: 28/07/2022
  • Cast: Kichcha Sudeep, Nirup Bhandari, Neetha Ashok
  • Director: Anup Bhandari
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Vikrant Rona chronicles the journey of its titular character as he walks in as the chief police officer of the fictional village of Kamarottu. Kamarottu is not the best place to be. It is a village that looks right out of a nightmare. The previous chief of police was murdered, and his headless body was still waiting for its head to be discovered. Little girls are getting killed regularly in the village by what appears to be a serial killer on the loose who paints the faces of these girls before hanging them on trees. Vikrant Rona not only has to find a way to track down the killer in a place where he can trust no one but must also take care of his own daughter who he has walked in with. Who is the killer? Why is he killing little girls? Who is Vikrant Rona? Why did he come to Kamarottu with his child when he is shown speaking with her mother? Is he a hero or a villain? These are just some of the questions that drive the narrative of Vikrant Rona

I was extremely excited about Vikrant Rona as I loved Anup Bhandari’s Rangitaranga. I was interested to see what he could do with more money and a star like Kichcha Sudeep as his leading man. I was also excited about the fact that Vikrant Rona looked like a film very similar to Indiana Jones films and that really made me curious about the end product. Whether Anup Bhandari would be able to deliver a proper action-adventure that was also in parts a mystery thriller in line with Rangitaranga-his claim to fame-was another aspect of the film that made me wait for it. It was clear from Rangitaranga that Anup Bhandari was not afraid to show bloodshed and brutality, and deal with serious themes. Hence, Vikrant Rona looked poised to be an interesting and different film from the run-of-the-mills stuff that we get week after week. 

After watching this film, all I can say is that it was a bittersweet experience for me. There was a lot to appreciate in the film but at the same time, there was also a lot that could have been done better. Let’s first dwell on all that was good about the film.

The breathtakingly beautiful cinematography and the pitch-perfect 3D rendering

The first thing that you notice about the film is its breathtakingly beautiful visuals, imaginative cinematography, and its grand mounting. It will easily rank as one of the most beautiful Indian films of recent times even though a large portion of it was evidently shot on sound stages with a lot of green screens and computer-generated imagery. What impressed me more about the visuals was the fact that it was a dimly lit film, and it unfolds in finite and sometimes claustrophobic places. While the forest and village in the story have their own charm and beauty, it isn’t easy making every frame look this captivating. One also has to give due credit to the lighting department and what I believe is called deep focus photography wherein the foreground and the background are equally crisp and clear. 

The 3D rendering is also one of the best that I have seen this year in Indian cinema. I noticed a few frames where characters could be seen walking on air or putting things next to nothing but sans that the 3D remains on point throughout. The fact that the lighting of the film is so temperamental also helps the cause of the 3D. The cinematography is designed to use the 3rd dimension for added effect and impact. Some of the more expansive shots are elevated because of the use of 3D. In short, the best format to watch this film in is 3D.

The towering presence of Kichcha Sudeep

Having Kichcha Sudeep play Vikrant Rona was a smart choice as he has the kind of presence that was absolutely necessary to make the character believable. As the story progresses, we gradually get to see a more vulnerable side of the character. We understand its many nuances and also learn the reasons behind some of his actions. We learn about the tender relationship that he shares with his daughter through the many interactions that we see between the two. While Sudeep breathes fire in the scenes where he is shown going up against the suspects, he turns in an unbelievably soft and sweeter rendition when he is shown in the company of his daughter. Both these aspects of the character are later brought together in the climax where we learn some terrible truths about his past. Sudeep plays the character with such an uncanny vibe that there comes a time in the narrative when you feel that he might just be the devil himself. For all this and more, I absolutely loved the performance of Sudeep and would go to the extent of saying that if he is removed from the film, there remains very little to appreciate in terms of performances in the film. More on that later.

Constantly engaging story

I have to admit that there were portions in the first half when the story felt a little dragged but that was never a major issue for me. The proceedings are interesting and there is an element of surprise in every aspect of the film. Multiple tracks are running here and most viewers who haven’t seen Rangitaranga will never know what to expect from Anup Bhandari who is a master of weaving different story tracks into one cohesive story that then becomes very difficult to predict. That is exactly the case here. While I had seen Rangitaranga and knew what to expect from the storyline, there were a few aspects of it that even surprised me. The second half of the film is particularly good, and the climax was electric. I loved the fact that the story becomes more dramatic and emotionally charged towards the end as it is about multiple tragedies. That seriousness and heartfelt approach were necessary to have the desired impact. 

While all these aspects of the film made it interesting, there were an equal number of elements that threatened to bring down the house completely.

Lack of a good background score and too many atrocious songs

The film’s music was terrible throughout. The songs served no purpose and proved to be nothing more than screeching brakes in an otherwise smoothly flowing narrative. The fact that the songs are neither catchy nor advance the story in any way makes them even more insufferable. 

Background score is something that South Indian films almost always nail with gusto. Unfortunately, a character like Vikrant Rona doesn’t have a memorable signature tune or a roaring background score that should have complemented most of his heroic and mass elevation moments. Instead, we are stuck with an ever-repeating score that neither inspires nor wows!

Poorly executed action sequences

The action sequences in a film like this needed to be outrageous, innovative, inspiring, and memorable. Shockingly, the action of the film is not just mediocre, it feels recycled from far better and similar sequences elsewhere. The cinematography that is sensational throughout, gets strangely poor in the action sequences. The cinematographer employs closeups in portions where he needed to show an expansive angle to allow us to enjoy the action fully. Also, the editing of these sequences is so poor that it didn’t take me much time to realize that most of these sequences were aiming not to impress but to cover up for the inadequacies of the people who were shown fighting it out. The climactic battle is the best action sequence in the entire film and even that is just about “ok”. 

Every other cast member except Sudeep is inconsequential and ineffective

When a hero becomes larger than the film and the story, it is not a good thing. This is one of the bigger problems of Vikrant Rona. Sudeep’s act feels strong in keeping with what Salman Khan is used to pulling off in his films. He overshadows and cuts short every other character. This results in no other actor in the film having any impact or for that matter, anything substantial to do in the film. Nirup Bhandari, the director’s brother and the apparent second lead of the film is forced to downplay his character so much that when in the end, we are asked to take him seriously and give him just as much importance as Sudeep, it becomes too much to ask from the audiences. I am confident that the audiences will not even remember another character who is a primary antagonist once the film is over. A story like this needed better villains and better performances from the supporting cast. 

Subversion of expectations

Vikrant Rona was marketed as an adventure film with Sudeep playing a character similar to Indiana Jones. He even sports the signature Indie whip in a sequence or two. By the time I was halfway into this film, I realised that it was not an adventure. It was an investigative thriller and a murder mystery that was masquerading as an adventure using its lush visuals and period setting. There is even a character that is used to bring in some unnecessary horror elements into the film. That was completely unnecessary and should have been avoided. This aspect of the film did sour the experience for me as I walked into it expecting a swashbuckling action-adventure but got a somewhat meandering and cerebral mystery-thriller. 

Final words

I wanted to love this film and I did for at least half of its runtime. Unfortunately, the issues in the film were too obvious to be ignored. I expected Anup Bhandari to direct far better than what he ultimately ended up with. The antagonists were weak. Sudeep was towering but he should have made room for the others to breathe a little. Too many songs hampered the flow of the narrative and God only knows why Jacqueline was there. That is probably the price the producers had to pay for the “Salman Khan presents” tag. Vikrant Rona is in many ways related to Rangitaranga and watching Rangitaranga on YouTube before watching this film might be a good or a bad idea. If you watch it, you will know what exactly to expect from Vikrant Rona and it will elevate certain elements of the film. If you don’t, you will probably have a better time with this film.   

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

Also read | Is there really such a thing as an ‘addictive personality’?

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