A resounding statement on feminism
Film: Vakeel Saab
Cast: Pawan Kalyan, Nivetha Thomas, Anjali, Ananya and Prakash Raj
Director: Sriram Venu
Story: Pallavi, Divya and Zareena are working women living in Hyderabad. One evening, the girls head out to a party to a resort upon one of their friend’s (Vamsi) invitation. The fated night lands them in unexpected but dangerous trouble, and the society perceives them as loose women with no morals. Will they come out clean from those unjustified perceptions?
Vakeel Saab review: Vakeel Saab, the much-awaited, long-in-the-making blockbuster starring Pawan Kalyan is the remake of the 2016-Amitabh-Bachchan-starrer Pink. And, Vakeel Saab, directed by Sriram Venu strongly sticks to the essence of the original film—that when a woman says no, she means no.
The remake, quite like the original, reminds us of many insulting conjectures, lascivious remarks and lewd gestures routinely made at women. Through the film, Sriram Venu also exposes male privilege, prejudice and sexual violence.
The film starts off showing how working women and roommates Pallavi (Nivetha Thomas) Divya (Ananya) and Zareena (Anjali) lead their lives. Then the narrative flows towards how these women are entangled in a trap, and the struggles they face from then on to come out of it. At a time when these women lose hope, in comes Vakeel Saab (Pawan Kalyan) to help them fight for justice.
Despite the plot a once told storyline, Vakeel Saab takes its own sweet time in its first half to establish the three girls’ characters and their problems. Perhaps Sriram could have made those scenes crisper. While majority of the film revolves on the girls, it also has a flashback episode of Shruti Haasan. While we understand that the director is trying to establish why the Vakeel Saab has turned into an alcoholic, the episode remains, well, uninspiring.
The second half is where the film scores big as the focus shifts to the courtroom. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to point out that the court plays a strong character in the film; the arguments between Vakeel Saab and Nanda (Prakash Raj) really beat at the film’s heart.
While it is usually challenging for filmmakers to engage their audiences through the entire second half with courtroom scenes, Sriram does it with panache. And it was probably because the director stuck to his core plot—fighting against women’s injustice.
Vakeel Saab’s questions on our society’s outlook, in which girls with short hemlines and women who enjoy a drink with men are considered to possess low morals, received thunderous applause from the audiences in the theatre.
Attention to detail is evident in the screenplay in the second half where the court keeps adjourning the case. While hearing the sentence ‘Are you a virgin?’ in a mainstream Telugu film feels surreal, the film points out how a key part of the incident—the molestation of Pallavi—is never investigated through the hearings.
The performances are pitch-perfect, with Pawan Kalyan leading the way. He needs to be appreciated for picking up a film like this. His arguments in the courtroom seem realistic and he excels in accentuating his legal points by drawing parallels in a social setting. Indeed, Pawan has given it all to play the role, and drive home his points with such elegance that audiences would surely fall in love with him all over again.
As for the ladies, Nivetha Thomas, Anjali and Ananya have excelled in their parts, justifying each of their presence in the film. Anjali excelled in her confession in the court room scenes and her emotional outburst showed her maturity as actor. Nievtha was at her best.
Thaman’s background score was effective in elevating the film’s mood and narrative.
Finally, we have a powerful mainstream Telugu film, which focuses on issues faced by women. And Vakeel Saab grippingly focuses on making resounding statements on feminism and that in a convincing way. While this remake stays true to the original Bollywood super hit film, the director ensures his star cast delivers quite a punch too....