Film: 'Victoria No. 203'; Cast: Om Puri, Anupam Kher, Jimmy Shergill, Preeti Jhangiani, Sonia Mehra, Kamal Sadanah, Javed Jaffrey, Tora Khasgir, Rajesh Khera; Director: Anant Mahadevan; Rating: **
Of the two remakes released this week, 'Victoria No. 203' is slightly better than 'Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag' but not good enough to strike gold at the box office.
The basic premise here is the same as before. Screenplay writers Sunjiv Puri and Manoj Tyagi haven't brought in many changes to the original script, except that the locker in the remake, where instructions to find the diamonds are kept, is at Mumbai's VT Station instead of Bori Bunder. Though the witty one-liners are quite refreshing, they lack the required punch when delivered by Om Puri and Anupam Kher.
Directed by Anant Mahadevan, the film is a remake of Brij Sadanah's 1972 hit comic-thriller 'Victoria No. 203' about a diamond robbery. Amazing on screen chemistry between Pran and Ashok Kumar and engaging performances by the rest of the cast, including main lead Naveen Nishchol and Saira Banu, turned the original into a super duper hit.
However, the new version, despite the presence of seasoned actors like Om Puri and Anupam Kher, who step into the shoes of Pran and Ashok Kumar, fails to hold the audience's interest.
Om Puri and Anupam play stereotypical funny, golden-hearted thieves and their performances are not at all striking or stirring. Their acting lacks spontaneity and perfect timing; instead of laughing at their funny acts, you just feel sorry for them.
Jimmy Shergill has established himself as a good actor but he doesn't impress either as an undercover police officer. Javed Jaffrey as a businessman, who is ready to go to any length to lay hands on the precious diamonds, is shallow and repetitive. So is Johnny Lever, who makes a special appearance in the end.
Sonia Mehra, daughter of well-known actor Vinod Mehra, makes her debut with the film. She possesses star quality but her emoting is not up to the mark.
Tora Khasgir, who plays an expert thief, is the surprise package. Though she doesn't have much to do, she succeeds in holding the viewer's attention as long as she is on screen. Preeti Jhangiani plays a negative role and she does it with conviction.
Mahadevan's direction lacks deftness. The film is disjointed in many places, which lessens the excitement and thrill. It also lacks a modern approach that one would expect.
Sometimes good music pulls of a film but Viju Shah's composition too lacks appeal.
The original was produced by Brij Sadanah and the remake is presented by his son Kamal, who also features in the film as a baddie. But unfortunately his cash register won't jingle like his father's.
'Victoria No. 203' could have been a lot of fun if better paced and well acted.