Having watched the original Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, one kind of knows what to expect going in to watch Shehzada, the Hindi remake of the Telugu hit. Starring Kartik Aaryan in the role made so popular by Allu Arjun in the Telugu original, Shehzada is mostly a frame-by-frame copy, with minor changes here and there. Kartik and Kriti Sanon’s professions have changed, there’s probably fewer songs than the original, and the editing is tighter, giving it a faster pace.
The premise - in case you haven’t watched the original - is that the rich kid of Delhi-based Jindal family gets swapped with their clerk’s son at birth, due to the evil machinations of the clerk himself. He raises the true heir of the Jindals as his own son, but devoid of any fatherly love towards him, while his biological son grows up at the heavenly Jindal mansion, with a foreign education and a personal butler.
Bantu (Kartik), who grows up in a middle class family, despite being born rich, eventually discovers his true parentage. But he chooses not to reveal the truth to his real family, instead, finds ways to make a place in their hearts.
The film is a full-on masala entertainer, something that is totally up Kartik Aaryan’s alley. The actor gets the full playground to show off his versatility – slow motion action scenes, emotional family drama, effortless comedy that will force laughter out of the most cynical audiences. Director Rohit Dhawan had great help from dialogue writer Hussain Dalal in that department.
One of the funniest scenes is the exchange between Kartik and Rajpal Yadav, where the former is telling the latter about his true identity. Despite a brief appearance, Rajpal Yadav works his magic.
Shehzada mostly rests on Kartik Aaryan’s shoulders, he is present in almost every frame. Kriti Sanon has a short role, but the chemistry she shares with Kartik is evident. The two complement each other very well on screen and are probably one of the best looking onscreen jodis in Bollywood currently.
The film has some beautiful locations where the songs have been shot. The outdoor shots of Delhi and Gurgaon look sleek. The action has been choreographed well, showing Kartik as a possible out-and-out action hero in the future. He totally owns the larger-than-life action scenes, making even the most improbable moves believable.
Murali Sharma infused some crafty cunningness in the role of the clerk in Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, which is somewhat missing in Paresh Rawal’s portrayal in Hindi. The role of the mother, played by Tabu in the original, has been essayed by Manisha Koirala. It is refreshing to watch her back on screen again. It was good to see Sachin Khedekar reprise his role from the original. Ronit Roy is apt as the affectionate yet firm father.
Bantu’s sacrificing nature might seem incredulous to many. After all, who would want to let go of crores of rupees, a luxurious bungalow and expensive cars? While exiting the morning show at a south Delhi multiplex, I overheard some women say, ‘Full entertainment hai, bas dimag ghar chhor ke aana hai.’ But if Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo found acceptance among the audience despite some logic-less plot points, I don’t see why the Hindi remake should be punished for it, either.
Only the audience will tell if the hit South formula is able to work wonders in the Hindi belt, too. But knowing Kartik’s fan following, I won’t be surprised if Shehzada turns out to be a crowd-puller ultimately.
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