What’s it about?
Pallavi (Nivetha Thomas), Zareena (Anjali) and Divya Naik (Ananya Nagalla) are working women. They share a flat in Hyderabad. One night, when they are returning from a small celebration, they find their cab driver’s behavior is suspicious and they don’t feel safe.
Around the same time Vamsi, a politician’s son and Pallavi’s friend, is driving in the same direction and they ask for a lift.
Before dropping them at their house, he invites them to a party at a resort. They oblige. At the resort, Vamsi tries to molest Pallavi and she hits him with a bottle to save herself.
Pallavi initially decides not to file a case on Vamsi. When Vamsi’s men threaten the three girls, they take legal recourse. Police arrest Pallavi on the charges of attempt to murder. Lawyer Satya Dev (Pawan Kalyan), whose license has been suspended due to volatile behavior in the courtroom, who recently moved into their colony, agrees to help Pallavi and the other girls. How Satya Dev saves the three girls forms the rest of the court drama.
Although ‘Vakeel Saab’ is the remake of the Bollywood movie ‘Pink’, it is more faithful to the Tamil version of ‘Pink’. The screenplay and the narrative style owes largely to the Tamil version titled ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’ starring Ajith. But it also goes beyond that. By adding more mass moments and scenes that appeal to Pawan Kalyan’s fans, Sriram Venu has turned it into a more commercial film than Ajith starrer Tamil’s version is.
The core point of ‘Pink’ – the riveting court drama and the message (when a woman says no, it means no, that’s it) has remained the same.
Just because a woman drinks, wears certain ‘modern’ clothes, or parties, and laughs with a man, do not assume she is inviting you or sending a signal of herself being ‘available’. Also, the consent of a woman is a must, even if the man is a boyfriend or husband. Amitabh and Taapsee starrer ‘Pink’ drove this point strongly. ‘Vakeel Saab’ also does the same unflinchingly.
The second half of ‘Vakeel Saab’ is completely faithful to the original except adding some of Pawan Kalyan’s famous antics and fights. Plus, some witty banter between Prakash Raj and Pawan Kalyan has added more value in the courtroom proceedings.
But unlike ‘Pink’ or ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’, Sriram Venu has packaged the film as a hero-centric story. In ‘Pink’, it was all about the three women. In ‘Vakeel Saab’, the focus is more on Pawan Kalyan’s off-screen and on-screen persona.
The first half of the film is a little dull. It focuses more on Pawan Kalyan’s backstory, which has not worked well. It looks clumsily handled. But director Venu Sriram packs a punch with an engaging post-interval portion, and the final moments are gripping with powerful dialogues.
The second half also stays true to the soul of the Hindi movie. The scenes that showcase heroism in the second half are more organic.
Despite taking a long sabbatical from films, Pawan Kalyan’s star power is intact. Pawan Kalyan owns the film with his strong screen presence. He plays the role so convincingly in his own right. His ‘aavesham’ has a purpose and it is more effective in the courtroom scenes. Prakash Raj as Nanda is a perfect choice to fit against Pawan Kalyan. Their face-off is a treat to watch.
Nivetha Thomas as a Pallavi makes a solid impression. The proven actress is excellent in emotional scenes. Anjali leaves her mark as well. Ananya Nagalla is okay as an innocent tribal girl.
The film has fine visuals and music. Thaman’s background score is impactful. Dialogue writing should be mentioned. The writer has cleverly used lines that serve Pawan Kalyan’s political goals as well as look situational. While the editing is superb in the second half, the beginning scenes are patchy.
Director Sriram Venu has done a neat job in handling Pawan Kalyan’s comeback movie.
Bottom-line: ‘Vakeel Saab’ makes a solid case for the need to change ‘choopu’ (gaze) on women and come out of a patriarchal mindset about a woman’s consent. It is a more commercialized version of ‘Pink’, and serves Pawan Kalyan’s image, but still, it makes a compelling watch.
By: Jalapathy Gudelli
Film: Vakeel Saab Cast: Pawan Kalyan, Shruti Haasan, Anjali, Nivetha Thomas, Ananya Nagalla, Prakash Raj Dialogue: Mamidala Tirupati Music: Thaman Director of Photography: PS Vinod Editor: Prawin Pudi Producer: Raju - Sirish Presented by: Boney Kapoor Written and directed by: Sriram Venu Release Date: April 09, 2021