Movie Review: Vikalp

This is something I fail to understand. Why do interesting ideas or one-page concepts fail to translate into a fascinating and captivating screenplay? I can list a number of films that boasted of attention-grabbing stories, but the excitement disappears as you watch the reels unfold. VIKALP, directed by Sachin P. Karande, suffers for this reason. The Australian mini-series BANGKOK HILTON [1989] is fresh to this date. In Bollywood, the most famous interpretation of the mini-series remains GUMRAH [Sridevi, Sanjay Dutt]. VIKALP doesn’t really borrow from BANGKOK HILTON, but you can draw parallels with the plot. Besides, VIKALP also talks of hacking and terrorism, so that makes it all the more interesting. So what’s the problem? Well, the writer seems clueless when it comes to doing justice to the subject material. What could’ve been a taut edge-of-the-seat thriller becomes a tame, bland and amateurish attempt in its latter reels. In fact, the sequences leading to the finale and also the conclusion of the film throw a spanner in the works.

Rishika Gandhi [Deepal Shaw], a docile, middle class girl from an orphanage, is a sort of prodigy in the field of computer education. She works in an IT company in Mumbai. Some goof up happens and she resigns from her job. At the same time, her personal life too gets a jolt from the blue when her boyfriend’s family accuses her of using their son for seeking financial security. Humiliated and heart-broken, Rishika decides to leave India and takes up the offer from a Bangkok-based software company. In Bangkok, Rishika gradually realizes that she is caught in a network of internet criminals and is being used as a hacker. Her passport is also with the company, so she can’t really escape. She is given a false identity of a criminal and she has nothing and no one on her side to prove that she is Rishika Gandhi. I genuinely feel that director Sachin P. Karande knows his job well. Be it PAYBACK or VIKALP, his choice of the subject is interesting indeed. But, for some reason, he’s letdown by his writers. In fact, the first half of VIKALP has several captivating moments [if one overlooks the initial sequences], which are deftly executed, but the manner inwhich the screenplay unravels in the post-interval portions, it’s truly heartbreaking. A captivating idea is used in a slapdash fashion, that’s where the fault lies. Another reason that goes against the film is its tacky making. While the exteriors have been shot in Bangkok, the interiors have been filmed at tacky locations. Talking of songs [music: Dev Sikdar and Vijay Narayan], the film has a decent soundtrack, but the two songs in the post-interval portions appear forced in the narrative. Deepal Shaw gets into the skin of the character. She’s awkward in a few sequences initially, but gets it right subsequently. Akshay Singh does quite well, although his role isn’t well developed. Kranti Prakash Jha is a revelation. The actor surprises you with a wonderful performance. Chetan Pandit is convincing. Nirmal Pandey is wasted. Ditto for Alok Nath. Abhijeet Lahiri is effective. Pankaj Berry is alright. The actress enacting the role of Suzy is okay.

On the whole, VIKALP is an interesting idea gone wrong.

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