There is a scene where Richie and his father (Prakash Raj) are having a conversation at the church. Prakash Raj is a pastor and Nivin waits for him to step out, his profile perfectly aligned with the spine of the Cross. As Prakash Raj steps in, they take the opposite sides of the cross — Richie on the right (pun intended). The scene, for me, is a clear example of the tone Richie takes, in contrast with Ulidavaru Kandante. While essentially both films document the story, Richie is a detailed version of Ulidavaru Kandante. There are several new angles added to the story in form of explanations as to why the characters do what they do. Unfortunately, they don’t sit well with the chaos the narrative style generates. The clash between wanting to be sure the audience understand everything and to also have a convoluted narrative dampens Richie’s effectiveness; something I had loved about the original.
Another major difference is how both films treat their characters. Richie’s characters are much more fleshed out; especially its titular role. While Rakshit Shetty’s version saw Richie accept his ‘professional rowdy’ tag easily. He embraces it with open hands rather. On the other hand, Gautham’s version sees a Richie who seems to repent the life that he could have had. A change that weaves in a stronger emotional conundrum, making the movie more complicated than what it is. The plot change also brings a philosophical angle of forgiveness. Maybe it was done because Nivin is essaying the lead role; that we had to sympathise his struggle. Or maybe not. The fact is that Richie’s story goes beyond the original, a trait that is admirable in remakes.
Promoting Richie as a Nivin Pauly film might be counterproductive for the film, especially with Nivin’s fans who might have expected to see more of their star. Rakshit Shetty wasn’t the star he is now, at the time of Ulidavaru Kandante. For the kind of star power Nivin has in Tamil, the screen time the story gives him is limited. His fans would expect more. It is a daring choice taken by the actor and he makes the best use of it. Nivin definitely looks the part. It is the dubbing that doesn’t sound quite right. Despite the effort, we can sense that the words don’t roll of Richie’s tongue as easily as it should for a don. Nevertheless, it’s a good debut for the actor.
The staging and lighting in Richie, however, is remarkable. The film’s dominant red shades in its lighting; hues and colours that aren’t natural but gel well into the frame. The shades make Richie look slightly exotic, giving a comic book feel to the movie. Richie sounds the same as its predecessor, thanks to retaining Ajaneesh Lokanath’s work. As it does in the original, the music further adds Nivin’s swagger on screen.
Effects of remake-citis are bound to affect Richie as well. Comparisons are unavoidable. Which brings me back to question, do remakes need to be faithful? Are we okay when things are changed about the movie we like?