Reviewing Wanted is without a doubt harder than it looks because it’s just not another mass entertainer or a Salman starrer. In fact, it is the remake of one of the most legendary films of Telugu cinema, Pokiri, starring the Telugu superstar Mahesh Babu and Illeana. A film that is a classic, a film that ran for over 500 weeks, a film whose dialogues are quoted by fans all over, and which left an everlasting impression on all who witnessed it. So, naturally such a huge Telugu hit made its way to Tamil Nadu when Prabhudeva replicated it in Tamil with Vijay and Asin. After breaking records in two states and wooing two groups of audiences Prabhudeva took on the task of making sure that the Hindi speaking audience don’t remain aloof to such a phenomenal script.
Now coming to Wanted: having watched the original, my expectations were sky high, however a certain degree of relief was present as I walked into the cinema hall knowing very well that Prabhudeva, who’d already remade the film once, was the captain of the ship of this one too. The only inhibition that I carried into the cinema hall was whether the new additions to the cast and crew met up to the already acclaimed ones of the original.
Before dissecting how it meets up to the original and whether it shines like the original, it’s perhaps necessary to take a step back and just give a brief outline of what to expect from Wanted. Firstly, do not go in expecting a film in the genre of films like A Wednesday or something along those lines. But go in expecting a real ‘mass’ entertainer. With action, suspense, drama, romance and of course comedy! It’s a delicious khichidi of all these genres and has something to offer for everyone. It’s the story of Radhe (Salman Khan) who’s nothing but a brutal killer on the outside. He’s somewhat heartless, but has a heart hidden deep inside him. He’s somewhat crazy about his job, but has a reasonable amount of sanity if you dig deep enough, and he’s not what he seems, somewhat, if you uncover the mask he wears. In the violent world of Radhe there also exists a ruthless don who rules the underworld (Prakash Raj), a dedicated police commissioner dedicated to removing crime from the streets of Mumbai (Govind Namdeo), a corrupt inspector forever abusing his power (Mahesh Manjrekar), a sexy bad-girl forever lusting after him (Mahek Chhel) and of course a pretty young girl who despite knowing that Radhe is everything bad for her can’t help falling in love with him (Ayesha Takia). With all these characters intertwined in one ‘hell-of-a’ script Wanted is an out and out entertainer that really can’t be put in any genre.
Prabhudeva goes the A R Murgadoss way with his remake and ensures that every scene, every aspect and even every move in an action sequence is replica of the original. In this way the Hindi speaking audiences get to enjoy Pokiri the way it was meant to be! Now that is called detailing!
Original writer Puri Jaganath is credited for the third time for his sensational script and if Puri is getting a bit from every blockbuster made out of his script, he’s surely a rich man by now and even more so with Wanted now anticipated to carry on the Pokiri legacy.
However, the director and writer aren’t the parts to critique about this film. It’s the performances that make it what it is. It’s a script filled with an extensive amount of character interaction and very defined characterisation thus correct casting is a must!
It’s obvious to start off with Salman Khan of course. It’s not often that a superstar of his calibre has to live up to someone else, it just doesn’t happen! But there’s a first time for everything and this is it for Salman. Mahesh Babu, the original actor delivered his career’s best performance with his film and swooped a substantial amount of awards down South for the role of Radhe (originally ‘Pandu’), so Salman really did have a lot of expectations to meet. But, with his extensive amount of experience, knowledge and love for cinema he doesn’t fall one step behind! The actor clearly studied the original because his mannerisms are almost ditto except for the occasional ‘Sallu’ touch that was needed. He shines throughout the film be it comedy, drama, action, romance or even dancing (yes, believe it or not, but being directed by an ace choreographer/dancer has its perks!). After a very long time Salman Khan is shining the way he’s destined to shine. His fan following will surely double if not rejuvenate after this release and one does hope he gets his share of respect in the critical acclaim arena and also perhaps his share of respect at the awards. Wanted is something that will go down in Salman history.
After Salman, the next sensational star to analyse is Prakash Raj and really it would be an insult to his talent if we analysed an actor of his calibre. He may be new to you but for someone like me who’s extensively seen his work down South he’s a legend! He’s a flawless actor in every way possible. His attained perfection as far as essaying this role is concerned, as this is his 3rd time around at it! The actor is simply remarkable and I do hope Hindi filmmakers wake up to his talent and start lining up outside his door quickly!
Mahesh Manjrekar also is pretty much ‘perfect’ in his role. The actor grasps the ‘sleazy’ and just down right ‘evil’ character so well that he leaves you filling utterly disgusted. When an actor gets you that passionate by his portrayal you know he’s done it perfectly!
Ayesha Takia, although she doesn’t have much to do, impresses in her comic sequences. The actress has such dedication that even in such a limited role she makes sure her work shines. Mahek Chhael is a pleasant surprise and truly impresses. One does hope she gets noticed post this film.
The screenplay, cinematography and art direction are as brilliant as the original. Music and choreography are energetic, innovative and are placed in the typical ‘mass entertainer flick’ manner. The action is outstanding as expected and does prove to be one of the highlights of the film.
Some may argue that some scenes could have been done without and perhaps the length may be a bit much for those in a rush to handle, however the majority will probably not mind it as much.
On the whole Wanted is no Ek – The Power of One, which was an insult to its original Telugu counterpart, but in fact Wanted is a remake that truly lives up to the sky-high expectations set for it, much similar to how Ghajini played out. Go in the cinema hall expected a good ole’ mass entertainer with a bit of everything and you’ll come out feeling like your money and time could not have been better spent. Get together with all your best buds and plan a trip to your nearest cinema now because this release is not to be missed!