It can be argued whether it is fair to compare a remake to the source material. We would answer that the basis of green-lighting the story is its previous success with a different audience. “HIT The First Case” was originally a 2020-Telugu language film, which though commercially successful, was average at best. But the makers seem to have conveniently forgotten the latter quality of it. We have to question: is there really a dearth of commercially viable new ideas in the industry that even marginally successful movies are seen as the only way to bring in the numbers at the box office?
When someone watches any piece of content, a constant state of review is always at the back of our minds. When we discuss it with our friends, later on, it is common enough to hear: “oh, they should have done that instead,” “but that subplot was so unnecessary,” “how did this happen so quickly after that?” and other things. But there is a huge difference between picking out the flaws in a story and setting out to fix them. Movies are made for the audience, and it is their right to criticize. But it is a whole other mindset that repairs those criticisms while staying true to the story. “HIT The First Case” fails in the latter department.
The makers have certainly made some tweaks to the original storyline. But that has not made it better. Rajkumar Rao was the only saving grace of the movie, and he clearly poured his heart and soul into it. The rest of the cast was extremely underutilized. The film was about how Vikram, a tortured cop, solves the case of a missing girl. In the execution of the concept, they made it a one-man show. Which unfortunately set the entire movie in a single tone-that of the sheer frustration of a person, unable to crack a case. How do you justify a runtime of 2 hours with a single emotion? And can we just say that the romantic song at the beginning of the movie, though nice to hear, was extremely forced? Its only purpose was to make the audience understand the angst of Vikram as he sets out to solve the case. Can we just say that we are tired of seeing violence against women just being used as a tool to bring out the heroism of men on-screen? This is one of the most covert ways in which sexism is entrenched in Indian cinema.
The thing with watching a thriller or a whodunit is that, one must see the mystery gradually getting solved on screen. Tracks of it can be a wild-goose chase, but not the entire thing. The makers missed this in their memo. Right from the beginning, Vikram doesn’t find a single clue that could be considered a good lead. It’s dead end after dead end, so finally, when the case does get solved, it is not because of it all coming together, but because he saw that one thing that did it for him. Not reflecting on how cases are solved in real life, but this route meant that the audience was never truly hooked. There was no build-up, no investment, no theories that the audience could come up with, and absolutely no interest in knowing what happened next. Not to mention that the ending was so absurd; how did anybody think it was alright to go ahead with that?
And coming to the character of Vikram himself, giving credit where credit is due, the makers did a good job of representing how PTSD plays out, with the slightest triggers sending them down a spiral. Bollywood’s mostly gone wrong with mental health representation, but they seem to have got this right. We have one thing to add to it- in his role as a tortured cop, he says at one point that it is his job that is saving him. We would like that question to be answered. How is his job helping him run from his demons? Why is he hell-bent on staying at his job despite knowing how badly his work affects him? Getting him to answer these questions would have been a great service of cinema for this overused trope of a brilliant cop who hasn’t been able to get over the death of a loved one.
To put it simply, this was one of the most unnecessary remakes. It did not add anything to its source material, but neither did it seriously take away from it. And unlike other remakes, which are digestible even if average, “HIT The First Case” fails because the story is already something done to death across regions and languages—a brilliant but tortured cop, solving a seemingly unsolvable case. How did the scripting room fail to see this? And that is our biggest disappointment. A remake needs to be a more intelligent and refined version of its parent—not a carelessly tweaked replica. “HIT The First Case,” if it must be watched, is better seen when it comes on an OTT platform, rather than spending money at a theater for it.