“Body language is a crucial element of cinematic storytelling that can enhance a movie’s narrative and bring characters to life. One example of this is the 2017 Indian Tamil-language neo-noir crime thriller ‘Vikram Vedha‘. Directed by Pushkar-Gayathri and starring R. Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi in the lead roles, the film uses body language to great effect, creating nuanced characters and a richly detailed world. In this article, we will analyze the body language used in ‘Vikram Vedha‘ and explore how it contributes to the film’s success.”
Before we get to the analysis, it is important to try and understand why the director could have changed aspects in the newer version. Here are a few likely reasons:
- Wants to adapt to expectations of the cinema: Since the primary audience of Kollywood and Bollywood have different expectations from the movie, or their characters, the director would like to customise the nuances according to what would appeal the most to them.
- Want to improve what he feels could have been better: Once a project is executed, like all of the rest of us, a director would also want to see where there was room for improvement and adopt that if he were redoing a project.
So we see more style and more power given to the lead characters in the newer version of the movie Vikram Vedha.
Visibly better quality and added style quotient in the new movie
“Another example of a South Indian movie that excels in creating a rich context is ‘KGF’. This action film is set in the gold mines of Kolar, Karnataka, in the 1970s and 1980s, and follows the journey of a young man named Rocky as he rises from poverty to become a powerful gangster. Similarly, ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ and ‘Baahubali: The Conclusion’ are epic fantasy films set in the fictional kingdom of Mahishmati, which follows the journey of the young prince Baahubali as he learns about his heritage and fights to reclaim his rightful place as king.”
But that being said, the original version has detailing that seems to be completely missing from the newer movie. Let’s try and analyse these details.
Personalization Of The Characters
Humour and friends of Vedha in the Tamil version help us to identify with him as we see him as a human. For example in the below scene, we see some positive emotions of Vedha when he achieved what his boss thought was impossible. This aspect is totally missing in the new movie – we fail to see the depiction of any emotion in Vedha beyond the love shown for this brother through a few scenes with him, that those too could do with more detailing. In an attempt to create a more “evil” and “stylish” character, the Hindi version does not attempt to allow the audience to connect with him.
“Some other South Indian movies that excel in the personalization of characters include ‘Karnan’ and ‘Kumbalangi Nights’. ‘Karnan’ is an action drama set in a village in Tamil Nadu and follows the story of Karnan, a young man who stands up against the oppression of his community by the police and government officials. The film features well-developed characters with distinct personalities and motivations. Similarly, ‘Kumbalangi Nights’ is a Malayalam film that tells the story of four brothers who struggle to overcome their dysfunctional family dynamics and find their place in the world. The characters are all fully fleshed out with their own distinct quirks and flaws.”
Attention To Relationships
Treatment done to Vikram’s character with respect to his wife and friend is also more detailed in the previous version. For example, let’s take the closeness of the friendship shown with Simon in the Telugu version.
Both are almost always shown in very similar clothing which shows them to be similar in thoughts etc this is entirely missing in the new version. Even their placement in this scene with the boss, back to back is more interesting way of showing two people who trust each other than sitting face to face as is shown in the new movie. The question that arises in my mind as a movie watcher is, what this change in the details of this particular scene done to improve the scene or just to vary a bit from original?
“An example of a South Indian movie that excels in its attention to relationships is ’96’. This Tamil romantic drama follows the story of two former high school sweethearts who reunite after 22 years. The film explores the complex emotions and relationships between the two lead characters as they revisit their past and come to terms with their present. The film’s focus on the relationship between the two lead characters is nuanced and authentic, with attention given to the subtleties of their interactions and the impact of their shared history on their current dynamic.”
Could you also notice how these details are different for the relationship between the two main protagonists as well i.e. Vikram and Vedha?
Imitation Of The Original
If a director is copying a movie scene by scene, it could be a dicey situation for his – just how much should be copied from the original movie and actors? Each actor might have their own way of depicting a particular message. How much should the director override the actor’s natural acting to guide them with specific nuances?
Each actor has their own way of playing a script as we see in these images here
Let’s take a few examples and see how this plays out. For this we will take the character of Vedha as the reference. When he enters the police station, both of the actors show a smirk to depict contempt and this is played out well and naturally by both of them. Cut to the first face to face of Vikram and Vedha in the interrogation room. We see Vedha hooding to show power. How he would take on this position is important – it should look natural and not forced. Original does this really well, yawning, stretching and taking on the hooding. Hrithik on the other hand, simply puts his hands to his head and hoods. This not only looks superficial but also forced.
A “hooding” Vedha played out beautifully by Vijay Sethupathi
“In conclusion, ‘Vikram Vedha’ is a prime example of how body language can enhance a movie’s storytelling and bring characters to life. By paying attention to context, personalization of characters, and relationships, the film creates a rich and engaging world that captivates audiences. Moreover, ‘Vikram Vedha’ is just one of many Indian movies that showcase the power of body language in film. From the epic world-building of ‘Baahubali’ to the nuanced characterizations of ’96’, Indian cinema is replete with examples of how nonverbal cues and gestures can enrich a movie’s narrative. By exploring these elements of body language in Indian movies, we can gain a deeper understanding of the art of storytelling and the complex emotions that make us human.”