Varathan Review - Wish it was a Series than a Film
At one moment, we see Abin finding a cockroach in the house and pleads his wife Priya Paul to let it go out while she refuses and kills it instead. It sounds very blatant as an act given the couple just got into the property. Only much later we get that what it symbolised for and how it helped in foreshadowing the characters of Aby and Priya. One who chooses to go the calm way and other who wants to knock and shut it down!
Amal Neerad's Varadan is a stunningly shot slowburn thriller that takes all the time in the world before establishing the conflict. There are light bathed objects and rooms.. There are ultra slow motion shots.. The score gets christique. You do feel the style turning overdozed after a point of time. But it sets a mood. Or in other words, gives quite an extended detail you got to know to realize the afters.
The film very subtly explores the aversion and hatred that is deep rooted among localities for NRI people. And it comes strikingly relevant when they cite it out saying they are spoiling the culture. Reminded of someone? Could be!
One of many interesting things in the film is, how the abuse arc is not handled as just one incident. It has its own sketch. We get Joice narrating a cooked up story about Priya during his schoolhood to his gang. We see them stalking her day and night. We see them creepily peeking in through windows when she is alone. We even see one of them stealing her undergarments. Abin takes it all lightly as he doesn't connect the dots. But it becomes increasingly obvious and clear in Priya's intuition with every incident.
The film not only stands for women with respect to abuse. It also quietly play around the concept of masculinity. I was wondering whether the miscarriage that happens to Priya earlier has something to do with that. But the film constantly waits for Abin to 'MAN UP'. Priya keeps blaming him for not taking her complaints seriously. And she goes through a breakdown at one point, when things go beyond control. That's when Abin gets the seriousness. He chokes.. cries.. and decides to fight back! And from then.. the film looks like a different picture altogether!
Abin, a NRI, who is struggling to set up his start-up sort of turns into a Techno Wizard Bond. He sets electric wires to electrocute villains. He throws petrol balloons and sprat fire. He makes a gas cylinder explode. This sort of dejection comes as a very jarring jump. Thanks to the screen presence of Fahadh. He pulled it off with so much swag and ease. The narrative reminds you a lot of Kali. Especially with the genre shifting two half's. But.. You won't complain much with the kind of supreme technical ambience the film sets.
Aishwarya Lekshmi as Priya Paul is brilliant as the vulnerable Priya Paul. She brings a woman out of the character with so much layers. She could easily be the Radhika Apte of South India. She owns every moment she performs the roll. In Ajayan Chaliserry's art work, the property house and the antique pieces all over gets a haunting vibe to it. Little Swayamp's cinematography is breathtaking all over. The voyeuristic mood the camera sets perfectly syncs in with the plot. Songs do stand out poppingly. And we hardly notice the score either issues the terrific sound design by Tapas Nayak takes over the screen.
The film do has space for several questions. How much the Dubai prologue contributed to the narrative and characterisation of Abin as we hardly see him linking the career with his insecurities to fight back. Though it is crossed in a line, why they chose to avoid contacting police. The very need for Abin and Priya to settle in a property that is this left alone from the earth itself sounds odd.
And.. above all.. the HERO things that suddenly rush into Abin don't hold any valid reasons. As it all ends.. I still thought about what if they come back for revenge! The story could have found a very better place if the makers chose to do it as a series for Netflix. It has the potential to calm and thrill at regular intervals, every now and then at parts which it lacks when stretched as a film.
Amal Neerad's Varathan starring Fahadh Faazil and Aishwarya Lakshmi is a mood piece that slowly takes over through its spine-chilling ambience and drama.
Rating : 3/5