Thursday, January 13, 2011


Release date: January 7, 2011
Director: Sachin P. Karande
Cast: Deepal Shaw, Nirmal Pandey

The story of my effort to watch Vikalp is worth telling. As you can imagine, it’s not been released in a zillion theatres. But in keeping with my resolution to review every single Hindi film released in the NCR this year, I drove 32 km to the hall nearest to my house that’s showing Vikalp … alas to find that the show was cancelled because no one else wanted to see it. I offered to buy two tickets, but the theatre manager explained to me that then too, it would not be cost-effective for him to run a show. But all was not lost – he promised that if I was back the next day, and the situation was exactly the same, he’d run the show just for me.

Well, I did get back. He did keep his word. And I’ve lived to tell the tale of Vikalp.

Am I making a point here? Yup. ’Cos if you come across a film suffering the same fate as Vikalp, you can be sure that one of two things has happened: Either the film is so bad that the combined effect of critics’ reviews and word of mouth from the audience has kept the rest of the world away; or (and this is no reflection on the quality of the film) the producers just did not market it, which means the public does not know that it exists.

The latter happens often enough. I remember watching that lovely Irrfan-Jimmy-Shergill-Hrishitaa-Bhatt-starrer Haasil directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia in a near-empty theatre many Fridays ago. This was in the pre-Twitter era, in the days when newspaper reviews would be published only on Sundays, by which time it was too late for Haasil, which had entered theatres unheralded and disappeared just as quietly.

This is why I was willing to drive 32km (one way) * 2 (the return trip) * 2 (back and forth again the next day) = 128 km to review Vikalp.

Let me make it clear, Vikalp is no Haasil – far far from it. But as a wise woman once said on this blog, every film deserves a chance, right?

Deepal Shaw stars in Vikalp as Rishika Gandhi, a young, orphaned computer wizkid who finds herself at the deep end and at a dead when she loses her job and her boyfriend in quick succession. Disillusioned by what she perceives as disdain for her earthy Maharashtrian accent and non-snooty-school background here in India, she takes up a lucrative job in Bangkok. Once there, she realizes that she’s being used as a hacker by her company that’s in cahoots with international terrorists including – but of course – Osama bin Laden! Does she manage to get out of the mess? Ah, the suspense!!
Just kidding!
Since I have so much that’s bad to say about this film, let me start with the good stuff – Deepal Shaw. Most of us have seen her in A Wednesday and Kalyug, but before that (unfortunately!) in the Baby doll music videos. I find it tough to erase the desperately-wannabe-sexy cheapness of those videos from my memory, but perhaps I should try harder because Shaw is an interesting actress. In Vikalp, she fits well into the role of a non-Anglicised, Marathi-school-educated girl, low on self-esteem and easily ensnared by wolves preying on her lack of self-confidence. She looks, walks and talks the part, and I found myself going along with her on her journey in the first half of the film in spite of its tacky look.
But once Rishika realises that she’s caught in an international web of terror, the sillyfest begins. The storytelling is ham-handed to the point of being unintentionally entertaining. Just as Rishika is battling a life-and-death situation, up comes a romantic song with a good-looking chappie who’s been trying to woo her ever since she landed in Bangkok. This said good-looking chappie turns out to be the company boss’ son who does some villainous dialoguebaazi about Internet ki duniya and Internet ki taakat, but seems amazingly inept at handling his own office systems. And the proceedings are dumbed down for us stupid viewers to such an extent that the words Osama bin Laden appear more than once on the computer screen when our heroine is hacking the company’s database … Osama = terror, you know, just in case we didn’t get the point. I almost expected them to drill it in further with a cheque signed by “O.B. Laden”. Or perhaps a letter in an envelope addressed to “Mr Osama bin Laden, C/o Al Qaeda, A Cave, Somewhere In The Wilderness, Afghanistan”.
Just kidding again. But you get my point?
The saddest part of watching Vikalp for me though was the presence of the late Nirmal Pandey in it, all menacing and unabashedly over-acting. Pandey passed away in early 2010. Gosh, how much I liked him as Vikram Mallah in Bandit Queen! Gosh, how I cringed when I saw him appear for a few seconds in that travesty of a film, KRK’s Deshdrohi! Gosh, is it really this darned tough to make it in the film industry?! And if Vikalp is his last role, gosh how sad it feels to know that this amateurish production and hammy performance mark the last time we will see this talented man on screen!
Rating (out of five): *

PS: Deepal the Baby doll. Remember this?


  1. It takes lots of courage than dedication to review these films and fcrse u have a lot Annna.....

  2. wow...great review Anna babe..! The producers should have given u an award for watching it..!

    Deepal must be really struggling to get some missed mentioning bout her miniscule but impressive role in "Right Ya Wrong" with Sunny Deol...!

    But the point is, why r people churning movie after movie without assessing it themselves whether there would be some weightage somewhere?