Monday, 17 November, 2008

Vaaranam Aayiram - THe Insomniac's review

"De, first half nalla irunthuchu da.Second half kadi". "Director second half sothapitaanda". "Padam romba slow da. Thookkam vanthuchu". And lastly,Times of India gives a rating of 2 on 5. All this was playing on my mind when I was sitting all groggy on my bed,having been woken up from a disturbed sleep. But Mario said the movie was good and definitely worth a watch. So I was willing to give VA a chance.

At the theatre, it was almost like a special screening. We could've sat on any seat we wanted. After the usual round of lame ads the movie started. Gowtham Menon is different. While Khaakha Khaakha can be called one of the best tamil movies in the Cop-genre, he gave us Vettayadu Vilayadu, tagging along the lines of Se7en and 88 minutes. With Vaaranam Aayiram, Menon is treading a path which very few directors before him had the guts to embark on. This is a movie which chronicles a relationship,one of the strongest and most complicated, the bond between a father and son, both roles,donned by Surya. Right from the start, the movie gripped my attention. The retching of blood maybe cinematic, some of you may argue, but then, Menon has to cater to all sections of the audience. The entire story is narrated in Flashback,Forrest Gump style, with the present making an appearance now and then.
The school boy. Surya really becomes the character

The first half of the movie is very light-hearted, with many an enjoyable scene featuring Old man Surya and Simran(was great seeing her back in action :) Simran rocks !!!). The bond between father and son is also not flimsy,by any scale. The father gives the son the space he needs, and sonny boy looks up to his dad for everything(including wooing his girl). The transition of the protagonist from school boy, to college punk to Mr.Romeo is deftly portrayed. And Sameera Reddy!!! Oh my God! What a woman! While most Hindi directors saw her as a show-piece, Menon gives us an endearing,shy and very pretty girl(and terror panduthanam REC Trichy. MS in University of Cal,Berkely!!!). I have to watch the movie again, for I might have missed many a detail during the time she was on screen. Had eyes for nothing else. Surya's Don Juan-like antics were enjoyable. The first half rode on the romantic escapades of father and son, Sameera Reddy and mild humour.Some witty exchanges will be lost in the B and C centres,though, as they are in English.

Well,after the tragic-element is introduced, this is when the movie starts taking an entirely new shape. Surya's portrayal of his inner anguish is extremely mature. The guy gets into alcohol,drugs and what not! This is one of the areas where Menon has been accused of falling short. His loose treatment of drug addiction. But come on guys, let s go easy on this chap. I mean, here's a guy trying to do somethin different in a mediocre industry where any form of experimentation is considered a mortal sin, and here we are, judging him by the strictest of standards. Yes his treatment of drug addiction is loose. I maintain that given one more hour of running time, and Menon would have taken care of the loose ends. But how many people would be willing to sit for a 4-hour long movie?? And I cant understand how people could call the second half slow. There's so much happening(a little too much, I have to say). The hardening of Surya's character has a base (though not too strong) and his bashing up of the Delhi Gang is a bit cinematic. But at the end of the day, this is not a movie targeted at multiplex audience alone. So I forgive the director for that.
Surya returns home, more mature and with a clearer mind. He comes to know that his sister's childhood friend,played by Ramya has been in love with him for an eternity. She helps him get over the pain of his loss, and he slowly begins to reciprocate.
Meanwhile the father's health is deteriorationg, thanks to his chain-smoking(the scene where he asks schoolboy-surya not to smoke, ultimate :) ). But the old guy cant kick the habit.One fine day,Surya decides to join the army. Surya in the army,again, is portrayed as a heroic major (come on dude, a Tamil film hero needs to show some gethu! Again, menon is pardoned). The final rescue mission would have served as a superb climax for an action flick. Here again, Gowtham loses track of the numerous things he wishes to say. The man has loads of ideas, but he needs to do them in separate movies. Again, only constructive criticism here.
Surya and Simran light up the screen

Ok,now for the highlights:
1. Sameera Reddy !!!!!!!!!
2. Surya as a yester-year loverboy (yes. The 'Dad')
3. Surya as a school boy
4. Surya as a young father
5. Surya as a college punk
6. Surya as the lover boy
7. Surya in anguish
8. Surya the junkie
9. Surya the mature man
10. Surya as the sick old father
11. The father-son relationship, which is never overdone
12. All the emotional scenes, with never too much melodrama

Surya has once again proved that he is a cut above the rest. His meticulous work has been rewarded. This is one of my favorite performances by any actor. Hats off to you mate. And to Gowtham Menon, for bringing out many experiences from his own life to the screen. A HUGE thumbs down to Times of India and the other dailies which so cruelly criticised this film, which shines as a lone light in a dark mediocre film world.

Do watch this movie. It's definitely worth watching more than once.

One review which makes justice to the movie here- Between reviews by IE movie critic Bharadwaj Rangan. Do chech that out too. Excellent review...