Vikrit (Perverted) review – Dark, dirty, disappointing saga of two slumdogs

The film was shot in two days flat and completed on a wafer-thin budget of just Rs35,000 but the tale it tells is depressing.

Bhuvanendra Singh and Lalit Kumar

Mayur Lookhar

Hot bodies, romance, slam-bang action, swanky cars, gaudy clothes. These are common features of Hindi commercial cinema. Through the years, a few brave filmmakers have dared to question tradition and churn out more realistic cinema. But while Indian directors are increasingly telling tales of the middle class, it is the dark underbelly that remains mostly untouched. Why blame filmmakers though? How many producers would want to put money into films that discuss the lives of the poor and the meek? It is just not financially viable. 

But can we turn a blind eye to grave issues plaguing the poorest? Of course not. So, first-time director Lalit Kumar delves into the stinky slums of Mumbai to bring us a dark and perverse tale that is titled, aptly, Vikrit (Perverted). Faced with a wafer-thin budget (just Rs35,000), Lalit Kumar and co-producer Bhuvanendra Singh themselves act in the two-actor film.

Lalit plays a tea vendor Lalit who has been given shelter by friend Bhuvi in an unnamed slum in Mumbai. While Bhuvi earns enough from his little grocery store to get by, Lalit struggles to make ends meet even for a day.

Lalit has only one goal in life: his obsession with a young woman named Swati who lives in a nearby dilapidated housing society. Lalit keeps staring at her window but is too poor, too meek to express his feelings for her. On the other hand, Bhuvi is in a stable relationship with a woman with whom he regularly converses on the mobile phone, unaware that his conversations are adding to Lalit’s misery.

Trouble brews when Lalit discovers that the woman Bhuvi is dating is none other than Swati. Lalit warns Bhuvi to stay away from her. Bhuvi, however, cares two hoots for Lalit’s feelings. Enraged, the inebriated Lalit smashes Bhuvi’s TV set and all that is breakable in the little hovel they call home. He soon confronts and assaults his roommate too. Bhuvi wows to avenge the humiliation, leading to a disturbing, abusive climax.

Vikrit is clearly not a film for the faint hearted, but neither is it a film to be proud of. The plot is too shallow. While the story may be inspired by life, the film is not inspiring in the least. With just two actors in the film, Vikrit couldn’t afford to have a weak link. Unfortunately, Bhuvanendra Singh doesn’t fit the bill, landing a body blow to the film. He is literally affixed to his mobile phone 24x7; his left arm must have been sore by the time filming was completed.

While the budget was really tiny and the shooting was completed in two days flat, it is embarrassing and an eyesore to see repeatedly shaky shots in a film that has been selected for a prestigious festival.

The lone positive aspect of Vikrit is Lalit Kumar himself. While one can’t condone his violence, you do feel for the misery that drives his character mad. He has truly lived the character displaying the frustration, perversity and agony to a disturbing degree. Unfortunately, his chainsmoking and the excessive use of cuss words have made it a daunting task for Kumar to get the film cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification.

Given the budget and other constraints, it would be unfair to run down the film. But Vikrit is a depressing tale. The plight of slum dwellers needs to be brought to celluloid, but such perverseness will only further alienate this population. 

Director: Lalit Kumar
Cast: Lalit Kumar, Bhuvanendra Singh
Runtime: 77 minutes