In Indian cinema, a lot of aspects can be overlooked (by the audience) if the Emotional Quotient connects. In 2022, in particular, there was no bigger example pan-India than of KGF 2, which, after I gave it a one-star rating and went on to become huge, I watched again to gauge where I went wrong in my assessment. On that repeat view, I realized that my opinion of it as a film remained the same, but some mass emotional chord was touched that did all the magic, and made the film break records.
Ved, to a lesser extent, has the same quality. I believe it is doing extraordinary business for any recent Marathi film and there are suggestions that it should be dubbed, at least in Hindi.
Personally, I found the film (based on / inspired by the South film, Majili) a tad garbled and contrived. There were many loose ends: the beginning showed the villain, Bhaskar Anna (Raviraj Kande) being told about who the hero, Satya (Riteish Deshmukh) is . Turns out in the “12 years back” flashback that they knew (of) each other well!
The timeline and locations too were indeterminate. And we were told of a 7-year-old marriage without it being revealed what precisely went wrong between Satya and his ladylove, Nisha (Jiya Shankar).
There is cricket, and Satya’s ambition to make it in the field and an accusation heaped on him that he fixed a match. There are Bhaskar Anna’s men out to exterminate him as Bhaskar has taken a fancy to Nisha. There are two squabbling neighbors, Satya’s indulgent father (Ashok Saraf) and the interfering and preachy Murli (Vidhyadhar Joshi), and also some Satya cronies who seem to have no work other than being with him—the main guy (Shubhankar Tavde) being his acolyte for over a decade, minus any girl or his own life.
Then there is this room in a 5-star hotel, numbered 606, where Satya tells his wife (yes, there is one too!) Shravani (pronounced ‘Shraavani’ and enacted with stilted Marathi lines by Genelia Deshmukh!) that he has gone to complete “unfinished business once and for all”. She never knows what, as he never tells her. Strangely, there are no explanations given to the audience either! Not really.
The villain, who was the catalyst of sorts for renting this room (!), appears in the script in fits and starts, and finally has no role in the story progress whatsoever. So just when you expect Shravani to maybe be the same Nisha with plastic surgery done (Yes, some movies had this ploy!) or maybe her friend or sister, we get a bland explanation of what happened, over half an hour later.
And then there is this overtly, exaggeratedly precocious brat (played by Khushi Hazare), who is Nisha’s kid. Now, is Satya her father? Clearly not! Is she then fathered by the villain who had taken a fancy to Nisha then and wanted to force herself on her, as shown? Here again, we get a bland explanation. Turns out Villain Anna wasn’t all that villainous really.
And who is Bhaskar Anna really? Why does he do what he keeps doing? Where was Shravani hiding all along? How is Nisha’s kid connected with Satya and Shravani?
If you can figure out the story through the above complicated description, you might appreciate that Riteish has made his directorial debut with a part-novel, part-cliché-ridden storyline. His direction is competent enough, and so is his performance as Satya, though there are shades of his work in Banjo here. Of course, his addiction to alcohol that lasts for over 7 years (!) is shed overnight by him because of something he hears. Seriously! And no harm is done to his fitness either by all those years of drinking.
Genelia, as said before, has too-stilted diction that hampers the effect of her otherwise decent performance and expressive eyes. By contrast, Jiya Shankar, looking like a cross between Deepika Padukone and Tamannaah Bhatia, shows oodles of confidence as Nisha—the seasoned TV and South film actress delivers high. Ashok Saraf as Satya’s father steals the show effortlessly, while Vidhyadhar Joshi as Murli comes into his own in the later parts of the film
Raviraj Kande, making his acting debut, is menacing enough and effective as the villain despite his diluted and sketchy character, rising effortlessly above his almost superfluous role. Khushi Hazare as the kid is good, granted her atrociously-written character that even asks Satya, ‘Were you in a relationship with my mom?’ and more such questions that would have sounded cute in the 1960s but sound unbearably precocious in 2023.
Technically adroit, the film has music by Ajay-Atul that is heard now, gone almost immediately. Only Sukh kalale by Shreya Ghoshal works, lyrically as well.
On the whole, the film has connected with its target audience, so I will leave it at that, but as a piece of cinema, it is decidedly silly, all told. Give me the all-out dhamaka of Riteish’s Marathi acting debut, Lai Bhaari any day (BTW, that too had Salman, but in a more effective cameo)!
Mumbai Film Company presents Ved (Marathi) Produced by: Riteish Deshmukh & Genelia Deshmukh Directed by: Riteish Deshmukh Written by: Shiva Nirvana, Sandeep S. Patil, Rushikesh Turai & Prajkat Deshmukh Music: Ajay-Atul Starring: Riteish Deshmukh, Genelia Deshmukh, Jiya Shankar, Ashok Saraf, Siddarth Jadhav, Raviraj Kande, Vidyadhar Joshi, Jitendra Joshi, Vineet Sharma, Shubhankar Tawde, Khushi Hajare & others Sp. App.: Salman Khan