A curious observation from the Pizza (3D) the remake of Karthik Subbaraj’s extremely well received Tamil original Pizza. The couple – Vijay Sethupathi and Remya Nambeesan – aren’t married in the Tamil version. They just live together and that’s a definite rarity in Tamil cinema. While we expect such sensibilities from the more open minded Hindi cinema, the opposite seems to have happened here. The remake Pizza has a married couple. Why? No idea. But it probably tells us something about the philosophy behind the remake. It tries to “fix” some limitations the original had. But the problem is, these were never the limitations. Ever heard of the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?
Pizza is directed by Akshay Akkineni and stars Akshay Oberoi and Parvathy Omanakuttan. This Hindi version is a better photographed film than the original. Almost every frame is a beauty but this is often par for the course in Hindi cinema when compared to Tamil. Akkineni goes for a faithful remake and the crux of the screenplay is retained. There are some little tweaks here and there and most of them are added to increase the scare quotient. It is difficult to watch a horror remake and guess whether the film is really scary or predictable. But Pizza, even the original, was never about that. It was a film where the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. And at its core were the superbly drawn characters. The ones in Hindi appear shortchanged and mildly cardboard. Even the supporting actors in Tamil were much better.
There was a vulnerability to Vijay Sethupathi’s character in the Tamil version that’s completely missing in Akshay Oberoi. Maybe the performance is to blame but it is also because of their arcs. Akshay’s character at first comes across as difficult and someone who can at times be a jerk. This was not the case in Tamil and it worked well with the larger scheme of things in the story. There was also a better background to Anu (Remya Nambeesan in Tamil) and her fascination with horror stories, ghosts and haunted places. Here, Nikita (Parvathy Omanakuttan) simply tries to prank her partner every now and then and that’s about it. The woman character was the stronger one and changing that aspect in Hindi seems like cheating. It removes a very unique flavor of the story. Things are more drawn out just for unwanted correcting purposes.
It was a nice touch to show Nikita knitting in some of the scenes we see her in. But this is a bummer when the effect is stunted in the end due to some decisions of the director.
(An edited version of this was first published in The New Indian Express)