Remaking a yesteryear hit is considered an easy route for winning plaudits and paisa. With a readymade script at your disposal, all you need to do is cast the right set of actors, hire a director who's equally charged to remake the film and who'd do complete justice to the material, retain the popular songs from the original [if need be]â€¦ Presto, the new avatar is ready for public viewing!
But the new avatar may not necessarily be as effectual as the original. That holds true for VICTORIA NO. 203, directed by Ananth Narayan Mahadevan. It's a great idea to remake a rollicking entertainer like VICTORIA NO. 203, but the 2007 interpretation lacks the heart and soul of the original.
One of the prime reasons why the original worked was courtesy the fun element, besides packing every available ingredient in those 2 hours. The new version starts off brilliantly, but runs out of breath after the initial 20 minutes. And the graph only goes downhill thereafter.
To sum up, this Victoria is hardly a fun ride. Not all diamonds sparkle!
VICTORIA NO. 203 takes off with a display of diamonds worth Rs. 300 crores. Bobby [Javed Jaffrey], a rich industrialist and his moll Devyani [Preeti Jhangiani], are smitten by the diamonds. Bobby is willing to do anything to acquire them. When the diamond owner denies his offer to buy the diamonds, his ego is hurt. He hires the services of Ranjit [Kamal Sadanah], who in turn hires a burglar, Tora [Tora Khasgir], to steal the diamonds.
Tora performs a daredevil heist and escapes with the diamonds. She has an agenda of her own and plans a double cross with her brother Karan [Rajesh Khera]. Just as she is about to escape, Ranjit stabs her. She escapes though and falls next to Victoria No. 203 in which she hides the diamonds. The Victoria driver Raman [Jatin Sial] offers to take her to the hospital and in the process gets caught by the police, who suspect him for attempted murder.
Raman's daughter Sara [Soniya Vinod Mehra] is forced at this stage to ride the Victoria in order to earn money for her father's trial. She is unaware that she is riding around Mumbai with diamonds worth Rs. 300 crores in her Victoria. Jimmy [Jimmy Joseph], an expert on diamonds, takes a ride on the Victoria and instantly falls in love with Sara.
Raja [Anupam Kher] and Rana [Om Puri] are two small time crooks who are released from jail. They hear about the diamond heist and are extremely impressed, hoping one day they will be able to do something of the sort. All the characters meet in a climax and none of them know where the diamonds actually are.
If you watch VICTORIA NO. 203 with a magnifying glass, you'd agree that it packs every masala on the shelf. There's a heist, there're light moments aplenty [courtesy Raja and Rana], there's emotional bonding [father - daughter], there's romance, a dash of oomph and of course, thrills. And all this is merged to create a wholesome entertainer that doesn't bore you even for a minute.
But the new version looks disjointed. Sure, the script remains the same, but the holding power is clearly missing. The heist at the very start is superb [reminds of SHALIMAR], but the comic scenes are far from funny. You do break into a chuckle at times, but Raja and Rana here aren't as impactful. The comedy falls flat. The romance too is far from exciting. Ditto for the thrills!
Director Ananth Narayan Mahadevan is a talented storyteller, but he's not in his elements this time. The music is a mixed bag. The two tracks from the original ['Do Bechare' and 'Thoda Sa Thehro'] are the only ones that work. Cinematography is eye-catching.
Om Puri is in form, but Anupam Kher isn't. Om seems to be enjoying his part, while Anupam looks mechanical. Jimmy Sheirgill deserved more footage. He's okay. Soniya Vinod Mehra has a long way to go before she can be called an actress. Javed Jaffrey is competent, as always. Preeti Jhangiani is a revelation. She looks alluring and enacts her part well. Kamal Sadanah does a fine job. Tora sizzles. Rajesh Khera and Jatin Sial are wasted.
On the whole, VICTORIA NO. 203 doesn't work. It's a bumpy journey for this Victoria at the box-office!