Varathan Movie Review
Reviewer : Chandra Mohan Gopinath
Amal Neerad’s latest flick is Varathan, his second with actor Fahadh Faasil. Now the thought is whether the film just like a majority of the director’s previous flicks is focussing more on style and visuals or is it the other way around with the weight given more on the content part. Alternatively, will it a balanced film like an Iyobe giving prominence for both the content as well as the richness and stylishness in the frames.
If a glance through all the movies for which Amal Neerad has wielded the megaphone is done, one can easily spot something which is crystal clear and pretty easy to identify. More than the content, the emphasis is given on the style quotient and making. Exceptions are there like an Iyobinte Pustakam or Kullante Bharya from the anthology film 5 Sundarikal. Being a cameraman himself and having experience in Bollywood (as a cinematographer in some of the movies made by RGV), the name Amal Neerad is synonymous for stylish visuals. Not to forget is his penchant for slow motions which have on occasions come in for criticism as well for using these type of visuals (slow motion shots) excessively.
This film didn’t give too much of a hint about the genre or the story or on any of the characters through the trailers and posters. Naturally, the makers were able to create that curiosity level and retain a mystery surrounding the film before the release. The same magic is maintained in the movie also. Close to an hour or so the film doesn’t give a clue as to where the story was heading up to.
Initially, I was sceptical about the film and going by the narrative; I was under the impression that here is another Amal Neerad film focussing entirely on technical aspects and slow-motion shots with no place for substance in the story. By the halfway mark, nothing much didn’t happen that also paved the way for me reaching such a conclusion.
However, my thought process about reaching such a viewpoint was proved somewhat wrong, thanks primarily to the latter half of the film. Agreed, we see the usual gimmicks and pattern of the director right throughout but the way the film has been conceived and packaged support how the initial portions unfolded. Litti Swayamp’s outstanding camera work, Sushin Shyam’s background score along with the entire sound design of the film have come in aid of the movie to provide a different makeover and visual experience.
I can’t reveal too much on the synopsis fearing spoilers. On a basic level, Varathan is the story of Abey and Priya. The couples who had trouble while in Dubai on the professional side, for a change comes to Kochi and head to Priya’s property at Wagamon. The incidents that happen once Abey and Priya begin a new chapter at their new place of residence is what the movie is trying to show.
As I said, the beginning portions have issues with the pace, but the screenplay was able to cover it up by creating suspense and mystery surrounding the story. Also, the making and background score, just like any Amal Neerad film came in handy to the rescue of the film to engage the audience. The turn of events that happen towards the latter part of the film looked convincing. This was possible through the way Amal conceived the portions before the final games. We could believe how a person behaves or react in such a situation. At the same time, some cinematic liberties have been taken to give a heroic image to the protagonist.
In one of the scenes in the beginning portions, Abey played by Fahadh Faasil sees a cockroach. Priya immediately kills it, but Abey reacts differently as he didn’t want to kill it. The same Abey sees the insect again, but this time his attitude is precisely the opposite. It is this transformation that happens in the character that Fahadh has portrayed well. The two shades to the role have come out quite good on screen. Aishwarya Lakshmi, the female lead was right up there matching her male counterpart in all departments of acting. It was another character that suited her just like Mayanadhi.
Dileesh Pothen and Sharafudeen are actors who made a presence among the actors on the supporting side with the latter taking up a role which was new to him. As I already mentioned, the impressive work is done by the technical team earlier, not going into them again.
Varathan is one film that deserves to be viewed on the big screen itself. Yes, it has a slow-paced narrative for the first half, but that sluggishness in pace and gradual development in the story was what the plot demanded. The film has enough interesting elements to captivate the audience. One can fault the movie by saying too much focus was on the technical aspects to cover up a threadbare storyline. However, somehow, I did enjoy the film and liked the way the events shaped up that ended on a convincing note.