One must not go ahead without crediting Pratik Gandhi’s fantastic work, and the creators of the new generation not sticking to casting actors only from their bubble. Today, the country is awaiting the release of a regional series. Take the credit for turning the tide towards Gujarati cinema in a small way Pratik, and the makers of Scam 1992. Coming to Vitthal Teedi, a show based on a short story by the same name, is intriguing, right on emotions, but at the end of the day a ‘short story’ made into the long format. The word ‘drag’ goes very handy. While Gandhi hits another goal, below is what I felt about this big step in the regional diaspora.
Vitthal Teedi Review: What’s It About:
Based on the short written by Mukesh Sojitra, Vitthal Teedi is a character study of a man who is born with the talent of playing cards. They say it’s in his genes because his father, grandfather and the patriarchs before them have all been masters at the game. The village is obsessed with his talent, and he makes a living out of it. But at the end of the day, it’s gambling, and however good it might have done to his life, the world looks down at it. How will he rise, or will he even try to? Watch the show.
Vitthal Teedi Review: What Works:
I haven’t read the original source material, which means my analysis is strictly limited to the show and what’s shown on the screen. Not going to lie, my hopes with Vitthal Teedi were a bit too high. At the end of the day, it was the lion of an actor in his own vicinity. If he roared that loud in the territory he was new to, one could only imagine if he was in his comfort.
Cannot be happier that Pratik Gandhi manages to prove his mettle yet again. Vitthal Teedi, as I said, is a character study. To begin with the writing, writer Bhargav Purohit who gets to elaborate on Mahesh’s short story creates a self-indulgent character analysis. There are no outer villains, or elements to become obstacles in the antagonist Vitthal’s (Gandhi) life. His father promotes his gambling and doesn’t really resist the profit it brings. So what exactly is the conflict?
The conflict is self-realisation. Our man here, Vitthal, is introduced to us as a boy almost 10-years-old. We meet him at a point where he loses his mother. Left with two siblings and a mourning father, he is quick to understand that he has to be the protector of his family. A decision taken in anger takes him away from school, and he finds his life stuck in cards that bring quick money. He grows up with the reputation of the smartest player (read gambler).
The writing is so focused on Vitthal and his vision to see the world that at some point, you look at gambling as a pure profession. His love for the family, his bond with sister Vandana, his honesty and all of that is highlighted through various scenes. The above-mentioned conflict becomes the very realisation to Vitthal Teedi that he has gambled all his life for his family. But what is his identity if not that and them? And when he reaches that point, Pratik Gandhi begins sprinkling his magic.
You don’t get into Vitthal Teedi with expectations of a larger than life gambling drama. Because it’s not. The protagonist looks at it as a means to earn money and spend it on good things. Never once is he shown spending it on himself. It is the era of a rupee being highly valued, and you need to keep that in mind.
Gandhi wears Vitthal like someone he always was and was hiding it all this while. His body language, mannerism, dialect, everything changes. I was sceptical if he would be able to break the Harshad Mehta image so quickly, and to my astonishment, he does entirely. What I would want to cherish is his interaction with the characters that are connected to him. His eyes do the talking most of the times, and that is not an easy task to pull off.
Brinda Trivedi, an actor I loved in Hellaro, gets to play Vitthal’s sister Vandana. It is the interaction between these two that has my heart. Vandana brings the biggest twist in the show, and I am not spoiling that for you. But watch out for Brinda, such a seasoned actor. Ragi Jani, who plays the father, gets the most emotional sequences and accompanies Pratik in bringing much-needed depth to the plot. Vishal Thakkar deserves a special mention for playing the young Vitthal.
The direction by Abhishek Jain is true to the landscape the show is set in. He manages to bring out the best in the frame that already has some talented actors in it. The decision to bring the lack of vanity in his characters, keeping the sets as raw as they can be, to creating a lived in-universe, he takes all the efforts to make it visually authentic and appealing at the same time. Tapan Vyas’s camera helps him big time in doing this.
Vitthal Teedi Review: What Doesn’t Work:
The show is a long format of a short story written around a character that is so layered, that he is enough to highlight a short time. But the show is a 6 episode run, only Vitthal having all the mettle and his immediate family some, doesn’t justify the material. For instance, his friend Jagdish is a character that could be given more. Or Shraddha Dangar, who has the talent to drive a complex character home, should have had more.
That also points towards the dragging Vitthal Teedi suffers at some stages. The end in itself is a bit underwhelming to be quite honest. You are deciding to leave me in the mid of a story, and expecting me to come back months later and join the dots without a cliff-hanger. Isn’t that a bit too much to ask? I will come back for Pratik, but is making him the only selling point a good idea? Maybe not, but I will definitely watch season 2 to have clarity.
The show almost comes on the rim of becoming a TV Soap opera but is saved every single time. I wish season 2 manages to bring more edge to the show.
Vitthal Teedi Review: The Last Words:
Pratik Gandhi is a clear winner here, but that is not enough to make a successful show that is successful in all departments. Vitthal Teedi has all the elements to become a complete package, and the makers have to realise that. You should give it a try because the cast won’t let you get bored for a single moment.