Vikram works fine as a standalone movie. It has some of the most expensive talents in southern cinema: Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi, Fahad Faasil and Suriya. It has a non-stop flow of action and plenty of meta-reference to captivate Kamal fans. And these are all part of a cinematic universe that director Lokesh Kangaraj seems to be stringing together along the way.
If you’ve already seen the film, the last scene could have been a little confusing if you hadn’t seen Lokesh’s first big hit Kaithi. In the climax, Lokesh lays all the cards on the table and makes his intentions to continue this world of crime that he started in 2019.
Lokesh Kangaraj had first envisioned a low-budget action drama after being struck by an idea from a newspaper article. He wrote Kaithi with Mansoor Ali Khan in mind. Mansoor is a popular actor, who is known for his villainous roles. He has carved out a niche for himself in Tamil cinema playing negative roles with an innate mischievousness worthy of imitation. However, the script eventually ended up in the hands of Karthi. And with him on board, so did the budget, scale, scope and reach of the film, taking Lokesh’s career to another level.
Lokesh took inspiration from Kamal’s cult classic Virumaandi (2004) to create the story of a man who had served time in prison for a crime and had just come out to save the entire police force, who had to deal with a ruthless attack plotted by the drug mafia. Inspector Bejoy (Narain), who you see on Kamal’s team, carries out a drug bust and seizes cocaine for almost a ton in Trichy. It sends the drug mafia into a frenzy. With cops either drugged, murdered or on the payroll of the crime bosses, Bejoy has no one but Dilli (Karthi) to change to save the day.
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And Dilli saves the police from the drug lords’ uncompromising siege by wreaking havoc akin to Vikram’s pre-climactic fight. But that sets in motion a series of events. In Kaithi we see Bejoy talking about a ‘ghost’. But then we had no idea who that ghost was. I’m not sure if Lokesh had thought of Kamal when he first wrote the mysterious character ‘ghost’ in Kaithi.
However, things fell into place when Lokesh Kangaraj approached Kamal Haasan to pitch a film. We don’t know what movie he originally had in mind for Kamal. He wanted to make an action movie using Kamal’s 1986 movie Vikram. So Kamal finally told him a plot idea he had for that movie before it was rejected by the director of the movie, Rajasekhar, who felt it was too advanced for the time. . Lokesh became addicted to the plot idea and extrapolated a movie.
Kamal takes on the role of the spy he had played in the earlier film. However, in the new film, he is 60 years old and remains inconspicuous after leaving his life as a spy for the sake of his loved ones. And he is a legend in the circle of spies. Everyone has heard his exploits on the battlefield in awe, but no one has seen him. That is why he is called a ghost. But an irrefutable personal loss and a clear conscience to fight for his beliefs lifts Vikram out of his self-imposed exile and pits him against the Pablo Escobars of India.
At the end of Vikram, Lokesh opens up possibilities for various films. Kaithi 2 is already on the map. He also leaves a big question mark on the character Amar, played by Fahadh Faasil, who seems to eventually evolve into a very dangerous man. And then we meet Rolex, played by Suriya, the deadly drug lord, who is always hungry for blood and some drugs. And of course, it remains to be seen how quickly Lokesh can come up with a movie where we can see Vikram take on Rolex.