Amidst the sea of Pan Indian films, here is Veetla Vishesham, a refreshing Tamil remake of Badhaai Ho customized with local humour and sensibilities.
Backed by Boney Kapoor and presented by Zee Studios & Bayview Projects In Association with Romeo Pictures, Veetla Vishesham is co-directed by the lead RJ Balaji with NJ Saravanan. The duo are known for the 2020 Nayanthara-starrer Mookuthi Amman.
The story revolves around a pregnant couple, Unnikrishnan (Sathyaraj) and his wife Krishnaveni (Urvashi) who are in their mid 50's. The film delves into the complexities and the judgements that they face right from their families to strangers, and how it impacts their personal and social lives.
RJ Balaji plays their elder son Elango, reprising the role of Ayushmann Khurrana from the original, along with Sowmya (Aparna Balamurali) as his love interest, Anirudh (Visvesh), his younger brother and Ammulu (KPAC Lalitha), his grandmother.
Veetla Vishesham is not a scene-to-scene remake of the Bollywood hit Badhaai Ho. Similar to the Lokesh Kanagaraj cinematic universe, it touches upon the intriguing trend of RJ Balaji cinematic universe and has a lot of pop culture references.
Compared to the original Ayushmann Khurrana starrer, the Tamil version looks more serious despite the humour like the funny and short appearances of George Mariyan as a doctor and Deepa Shankar as a friend next door, the scene when Aparna wades through nosy neighbours to enter her boyfriend’s house and the climax baby delivery sequence.
Urvashi, Sathyaraj, and RJ Balaji who are known for their quirky humour excel as brilliant actors rendering a wholesome performance by not relying just on comedy.
The biggest win for Veetla Vishesham is that it teaches empathy, tolerance and acceptance while not being preachy. It takes a light-hearted approach discussing taboo subjects like the active sex life of old-aged couples, women’s autonomy over their bodies, double standards in how society judges women's sexual choices.
Even if you have been regressive and toxic, Veetla Vishesham does not reduce you to those labels but rather urges you to feel comfortable to unlearn, learn and be a better human.
RJ Balaji says, “Appa Amma panra velaya idhu ?" ( Is this what parents are supposed to do? ) when he discovers his aged parents are expecting a baby. Just like him, for someone who loves him for his humour, presuming he is not a romantic, especially since we have seen RJ Balaji romance his heroine from one arm's distance in ‘Thimiru Kaattaadha Di’ from LKG, after watching him act in intimate scenes with Aparna in Veetla Vishesham, I wanted to ask, ‘RJ Balaji panra velaiya idhu ?’ (Is this how RJ Balaji is supposed to behave?). But on a serious note, it was refreshing to see RJ Balaji show his romantic side on screen.
Girishh Gopalakrishnan's music and background score enabled him to elevate both comedy and drama work. However, it was slightly over the top giving us a ‘mega-serial’ tone during some emotional high points. Some of the emotional sequences could have been treated with subtlety to drive home better impact.
Veetla Vishesham works both as an improvised remake if you already saw the Hindi original, and as a stand-alone film when watched with a pair of fresh eyes. The film is running now in theatres.