‘Shehzada’ Versus ‘Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo’: Is The Kartik Aaryan Remake Better Than The Allu Arjun Film?


Rohit Dhawan’s “Shehzada” is a remake of Trivikram Srinivas’ “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo.” Dhawan takes a major chunk of Trivikram’s movie and then adds some minor changes to it. So, you have Bantu getting exchanged with Raj by Valmiki. At the midpoint of the film, Bantu finds out that he isn’t actually Valmiki’s son but the heir to a rich businessman’s estate. After that, he spends the rest of the movie oscillating between revealing his identity to his real parents or keeping up the charade and working on his parents’ personal and professional issues. That said, do the aforementioned changes benefit “Shehzada”? Or is “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo” still the superior version of this story?

Major Spoilers Ahead

Why Is Bantu’s Foster Mother Dead In ‘Shehzada’?

This is the most baffling change. Bantu’s foster mother in “Shehzada” just dies off-screen. What good does that do to Bantu’s arc? In “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo,” since Bantu’s foster mother is alive, there’s a very literal dilemma for him to choose between the woman who has brought him up and the woman who has given birth to him. Additionally, Bantu’s foster mother in “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo” is a staunch supporter of Bantu and regularly schools Valmiki for not supporting Bantu. Removing her in “Shehzada” makes things so much easier for Bantu because now he can fill the void left by her foster mother with his real mother. I can’t say this is a very severe case of fridging (the trope of killing off a female character to motivate a male character’s decisions), but it definitely feels like a mild one.

What Is The Difference In The Action Scenes In ‘Shehzada’ And ‘Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo’?

In “Shehzada,” the scene where Bantu goes to retrieve the “dupatta,” where he fights for his real grandfather, and the final rescue is almost frame-to-frame copies of the same sequences from “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo.” But they don’t work on Kartik Aaryan the way they worked on Allu Arjun. Charm and swagger aren’t things that you can acquire. You either have it, or you don’t. Allu Arjun has it, and Kartik Aaryan doesn’t. So, even if Kartik is going through the motions, he isn’t selling them like Allu Arjun. Also, you have to consider the fact that the choreography for the original was done with Allu in mind. It was meant to accentuate his style and persona. You can’t just paste it onto Kartik and hope it has the same effect on the audience. There’s no doubt that a lot of effort has gone into the recreations, but the original is still the one that’ll stick in my mind. The one action sequence where “Shehzada” deviates from “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo” is the moment where Kartik stands up for Kriti and unintentionally impresses Bantu’s actual father. However, the reason it feels weird is that it is a departure from Bantu’s usual style of fighting. In “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo,” no matter how small or how big the altercations were, the filmmakers made sure that the style and tone were consistent. Hence, the sudden change in that one scene in “Shehzada” feels weird and unnecessary.

No Foot Fetish And General Lechery?

“Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo” wasted a lot of time drooling over Pooja Hegde’s legs and making Allu Arjun do all kinds of creepy behavior. “Samajavaragamana” actually had lyrics mentioning Amulya’s legs. I won’t say that’s all gone in “Shehzada.” “It’s still there, but not in such copious amounts.” So, that’s a positive point for the remake, I guess? I know, the bar is really low. There are several scenes in “Shehzada” where the characters probably had to mention the word “intercourse,” and they kept saying “baat aage badh gayi hai” (things have gone too far) because they wanted to express their horniness, while staying in touch with their culture.

Why Is Raj Such an Idiot in ‘Shehzada’?

Strangely enough, this alteration really bothered me. In “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo,” Raj is just a really silent, shy guy who couldn’t express himself because his parents and grandfather kept speaking for him. His grandfather’s wish that Raj gets angry and speaks for himself happened very organically as he protested against everyone’s decision to not let him go and handle Naidu’s men. Raj in “Shehzada,” though, is a straight-up buffoon. Rohit Dhawan just took the man-child metaphor far enough to make it obnoxious. He shows Raj roaming around his own house in a mini-car and having his very own butler, who speaks in a fake British accent for some reason. It was bizarre. My best guess is that he wanted Raj’s transformation from a man-child into a manly man to feel very drastic. But since the catalyst for that transformation was a long and tedious monologue from Kartik Aaryan, the final result felt dull. Sometimes, silence is better than buffoonery.

Where Is Raj’s Love Interest in ‘Shehzada’? Where Are Bantu and Samara’s Colleagues?

Nivetha Pethuraj’s Nandini had a major presence in “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo,” but that character has been cut from “Shehzada.” In fact, the characters of Navdeep and K. Ravindra Reddy, who were played amazingly by Shekhar and Rahul Ramakrishna, respectively, were absent from the remake. Removing Nandini just made Raj’s decision to marry Samara easier. In “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo,” he had a reason to not marry Amulya, and it added to his discomfort regarding being unable to stand up to his parents. Navdeep connected directly with the opening action scene, thereby leading to a humorous moment between him and Bantu. Additionally, Navdeep and Reddy served as characters who reacted to many of Bantu’s bizarre actions and really livened up those scenes. Without them, the audience was on their own to interpret what Bantu said and did instead of having someone to project their feelings onto.

Appala Naidu Versus Sarang, The Better Villain?

“Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo” had Appala Naidu and his son Paidithalli, along with all their goons. “Shehzada” just had Sarang. I thought the point of having the villainous father-son duo was to continue the trait of having sons fight for their fathers. As far as I can remember, Sarang did mention he had a dad. But he never showed up. So, he had to carry that umbrella with him and do all the villainous things. It made some sense for Naidu to carry an umbrella everywhere because he was old-fashioned like that. That accessory-plus-weapon didn’t go with Sarang’s whole style. Also, Sarang never felt like much of a threat. Naidu, with all his mannerisms and Samuthirakani’s performance, made quite the mark.

Where Is The Boardroom Scene? Why Has The Profession Been Changed?

Despite the pop cultural gap, I understood that the boardroom scene in “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo,” where Allu Arjun danced to the numbers from various Telugu movies, was a big moment because most A-listers don’t do that. And, genuinely speaking, I was looking forward to a similar scene in “Shehzada” and watching Kartik Aaryan groove to various Hindi songs. But they didn’t even attempt to do that and instead peppered the “Raees” and “Shaktimaan” references in the dialogues and the visuals. In addition to that, the change in the professions seemed random. Bantu and Ammu were travel organizers, and Bantu and Samara were lawyers. That allowed for some variations in the conversation scenes, especially in the altercation where Bantu inadvertently impressed his real father. Other than that, it didn’t really matter if Bantu and Samara were travel agents or lawyers because the problem-solving eventually came down to fisticuffs.

Pritam Versus Thaman S.: Who Delivered the Better Soundtrack?

Thaman S’s “Butta Bomma” was a chartbuster, and I still listen to it on a regular basis. I am kind of warming up to the title track of “Shehzada” and “Chedkhaniyaan.” I am not a fan of “Munda Sona Hoon Main,” “Mere Sawaal Ka,” and “Character Dheela 2.0.” I didn’t really like “Samajavaragamana” and “OMG Daddy,” and I really, really liked “Ramuloo Ramulaa.” So, technically, it should be a tie, but “Butta Bomma” takes “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo” ahead in this race by quite a few miles.

Between ‘Shehzada” And ‘Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo,’ Who Has The Better Star Cast?

“Shehzada” had little to no respect for its cast. The only person who managed to be watchable was Sachin Khedekar, and that was probably the case because he was playing the same character that he played in “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo.” Manisha Koirala was no match for Tabu. Ronit Roy wasn’t as impactful as Jayaram. Ali Asgar wasn’t as good as Sunil. Ashwin Mushran was at par with Harsha Vardhan. I am just beginning to realize that they substituted Nivetha Pethuraj’s character with that of Kunal Vijaykar’s Cadbury, and that’s outright embarrassing. Rajpal Yadav was used for a one-time gag, while Rajendra Prasad’s had multiple hilarious scenes, thereby making his appearance memorable. Surprisingly enough, Vipul Goyal, in his feature film debut, was as good as the seasoned actor Vennela Kishore. Kriti Sanon was as forgettable as Pooja Hegde, while being guilty of queer-baiting. And Kartik Aaryan absolutely fumbled the chance to do his take on Allu Arjun’s Bantu. So, the short answer to that question is that “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo” had the better star cast.

Valmiki’s Nightmare Coming True in ‘Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo’ Versus The Vespa Ad in ‘Shehzada’: Which Is The Better Conclusion?

I am not sure if I should be irked by this alteration or if I should be impressed by it. Just like “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo,” “Shehzada” started with Valmiki having a nightmare about Bantu reclaiming his place in his original family. “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo” concluded with a version of that nightmare coming true as Valmiki was forced to mentor Raj to the position of CEO of Ramakrishna’s company and watch Bantu fly away in a helicopter. However, the final scene of “Shehzada” didn’t do a version of the nightmare from the first scene. Instead, Dhawan constructed a scene where Bantu basically reconciled with Valmiki, gave him a Vespa scooter, and rode away into the night. That might sound random, but when you think about it, it will make sense. Valmiki’s father used to ride a Vespa scooter, which Valmiki passed on to Bantu when he asked for a scooter. Valmiki himself rode a Vespa scooter, which got destroyed by a truck. So, Bantu gifted Valmiki the latest Vespa. Yes, that also turned “Shehzada” into an extensive Vespa advertisement, with each new version highlighting how inaccessible that vehicle has become due to its ever-increasing price.

Final Thoughts: Is ‘Shehzada’ Better Than ‘Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo’?

No, “Shehzada” isn’t better than “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo.” And it’s not just because of the changes to the story. The two biggest reasons why the remake fails to recreate or surpass the allure of the original are the inconsistent pitch of the supporting cast’s performances and the vast difference in Kartik Aaryan and Allu Arjun’s charisma. If you watch “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo,” you’ll see the sincerity in everyone’s performances. Even in the comedic moments, everyone isn’t acting like jokers. In the case of “Shehzada,” everyone is acting like monkeys. And Kartik Aaryan is no Allu Arjun. So, making him do what Allu Arjun had done in the original set him up for failure. Anyone who wants to remake an original piece of work has to understand they’ve to spend a lot of time in the kitchen molding it according to its cast and the setting, and the culture in which the remake takes place. If you don’t do that, and if you try to copy and paste, then you are going to keep making subpar remakes like “Shehzada.” Does that mean you shouldn’t watch it? Not at all. Watch “Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo” on Netflix, and then go and watch “Shehzada” and make up your mind.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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