Vakeel Saab: An underwhelming and bloated remaketext_fields
While it is generally understood that remakes cannot be carbon copies of the original, it is usually expected that some of spirit and the themes should be left as intrinsic parts of the film's message. Pawan Kalyan's 'Vakeel Saab' is supposedly based on Amitabh Bachchan's groundbreaking 'Pink' but is so different as to be almost an entirely different movie with only accidental similarities.
The basic plotline remains the same - three women, Pallavi (Nivetha Thomas), Zareena (Anjali) and Divya (Ananya Nagalla) run into trouble after encountering a gang of men. The main antagonist is Vamshi, against who Pallavi files a complaint of sexual assault and who continues to intimidate the three women as they seek to bring out the truth of what happened in their time with the men.
Unfortunately, the film detracts from what made the original so impactful - the narrative of consent and women's agency. In 'Pink', the women make morally ambiguous choices, ones that society would even consider shameful, such as drinking with strange men and attending rock concerts. Their counterparts in 'Vakeel Saab' are virtuous do-gooders who are consistently whitewashed into making no mistakes and who are only victims of circumstances. Director Venu Sriram turns challenging women into characters that are made virtuous and modest, which fundamentally changes audience perceptions and removes the element of ambiguity that made 'Pink' so successful at challenging ingrained biases about women's behaviour.
Pawan Kalyan assumes the mantle of Konidela Satyadev, the lawyer who will fight their case in court. However, what the film takes away from the characters of the women, it gives undue importance too in the character of Satyadev. He is given a long-drawn flashback and several allusions to Pawan Kalyan's political career in real life which drag out the story. Melodramatic dialogues in court and unnecessary glorification of his character lead to scenes that are frankly painful to watch as they only serve to highlight the "mass" nature of his character for fans and not the storyline.
The soundtrack of the film has been tweaked to accompany extra fight scenes that show Kalyan's character in an even more flattering light, delivering extrajudicial justice (a common trope in Telugu films.) Loud background music and slow motion shots highlight the mass scenes.
The lack of subtlety and the overwhelming melodrama that pervades the film takes away from the message about women's independence, safety and the issue of consent which was used in Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury's original is frankly made a mockery of in the remake, pandering instead to mass star appeal and societal notions of modesty and propriety.