When he is not busy going overboard, as he did in that execrable bogus bio-pic Sanju, Vicky Kaushal is a portrait of controlled portrayals that bring out the vulnerable, vital and vile sides to every character’s personality. In a career of 8 years, Vicky already has an impressive oeuvre to show to his future generation.
Vicky Kaushal first gave us a vivid idea of what he is capable of in this Neeraj Ghaywan masterpiece on class oppression. As an actor with a deep link to the Indian middle-class Vicky manoeuvred his character in and out of the trauma and anguish that the underprivileged classes are perpetually subjected to. The young lovers played with an unspoilt naturalness by Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi, build an atmosphere of lulling gentleness around the plot that shatters to bits as the script moves to a zone of unexpected explosion. “Yeh dukh kam nahin hota,” the young bereaved lover played by Kaushal screams in a moment of unbearable anguish.
For those who thought Vicky Kaushal’s Masaan act a year earlier was just a one-off flash in the pan, Zubaan is an eye-opener. Kaushal plays Dilsher, the waylaid Sikh boy from Gurdaspur who only wants to be successful in ways that we normally describe success. So he schemes his way into the heart-mind home and property of a business tycoon Sikand ends up getting what he thinks he wants. Vicky Kaushal plays the protagonist helps considerably in making director Mozez Singh’s job a lot easier. First Masaan and now Zubaan, Kaushal proves beyond doubt that he is among the most important acting talent to have touched base in Hindi cinema during the last decade. His command over his stammering speech left me stammering for words of praise. Kaushal’s Dilsher is a portrait of self-destructive ambitions. Dilsher is a stammering a faltering fumbling bundle of self-regard. We know he will fall. The brilliant script (Sumit Roy, Mozez Singh) catches hold of Dilsher before he hits the ground. The end-game back in Dilsher’s village where he rediscovers his roots is individuated by a sharp sense of musical confluence where the traditional sound of Gurbani meets a rock-stadium outburst. This cloudburst of musical effusion is composed by an impressively versatile composer Ashutosh Phatak who brings to the film an appealing subtext of the universality that one seeks and finds in music and which, alas, eludes us in dealing with more practical considerations in life.
RAMAN RAGHAV 2.0 (2016)
There is no hero in Raman Raghav. We saw it coming. We’ve seen the rapid evaporation of heroism from the cinema of Kashyap, to the point where, Raman and Raghav, as played with virile adeptness by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vicky Kaushal are the two faces of red-hot diabolism. There are no signs of goodness in the two main characters. After a while, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two main characters, much harder than it was in Badlapur the film whose morality was a precursor to Raman Raghav. Watch Vicky Kaushal have sex with his girlfriend, it’s not love-making, it’s hate-making. Vicky Kaushal has the trickier part. He must extend into his character its natural-born criminal tendency (born, we are told, from a bullying father) and also be shown functional within the precincts of law. He is shown to be violent cocaine-snorting psycho (if Tommy Singh in Udta Punjab wore a uniform.…) and also brutal in bed with his girlfriend. In short, a complete asshole. Vicky’s inexperience as an actor did not hamper the full flow of trashiness into the character. Vicky proved he was the actor to watch in the coming years.
Vicky Kaushal as Taapsee Pannu’s cheesy DJ lover worked hard on looking his part. The hair and the clothes and body language exude a sense of self-limiting rebellion. It is never very clear whether the passion between Vicky and Rumi (Taapsee) is all about sex, or something more. Kaushal plays his morally and intellectually challenged character with humour and empathy. It is a performance of many splintered parts miraculously adding up to a sense of informal completeness. Quite clearly Anurag Kashyap knows how to extract the best out of Kaushal.
URI – THE SURGICAL STRIKE (2019)
This is one of my least favourite Vicky Kaushal performances, included here because this is his biggest hit to date and the only one which proves he can carry a film on his own shoulders. Of course, the hero here was patriotic jingoism. The villain was our neighbouring county. Kaushal’s Major Vihaan Singh Shergill was adequately valorous and angry. But he seemed unconvinced by all the Paki-bashing that went on in this film. That, in a way, speaks well of his attitude to war-mongering politics.