Vaathil, the new Malayalam film starring Vinay Forrt and Anu Sithara in the lead roles, starts off giving us a feeling that it has a lot of complex mysteries attached to it. But once the flashback unfolds, the beats become very generic. But in the movie’s second half, the film takes the shape of a situational thriller. Even though it has inconsistencies in how it portrays the dilemma, the movie makes you uncomfortable for a short while. That success eventually gives the film the tag of an impressive try.
A married couple, Denny and Thani, are our central characters. They belong to different religions, and they both work for the interior designing firm owned by Denny. Off late, the marriage is going through a very rough patch. What we see in Vaathil is what led the marriage to be in this position and also what happens in the lives of these two individuals due to the strained relationship.
Directed by Sarju Remakanth, who previously directed Utharaswayamvaram back in 2009, Vaathil is not a perfect movie in terms of logic and craft. But somewhere, you can sense an honest effort to deliver a thriller that isn’t formulaic. The first half of the script, written by Shamnad Shabeer, is very cliched and exaggerated. It is that usual template where the hero gets dragged into this world of casual relationships by his womanizer friend. The events leading to the rough equation between the husband and wife have this bloated feeling. The second half of the movie is actually the area where the conflict is introduced, and 40-45 minutes of Denny dealing with stress and anxiety actually has an impact on you.
The confined space of that flat accentuates the tension in the scene, and frankly, what happens inside that flat is kind of unpredictable. There were times previously in films where you would sense the hero not opting for easy solutions and the writing trying to make things complicated by forcefully making the hero do stupid things. Sarju and Shamnad are not trying to use those tropes, and what we explore is the fear of a flawed man who might get wrongly judged for something he didn’t do. Towards the climax, when Denny was just about to clear the mess, I actually found myself in a very nervous space. The editing in those portions was pretty crisp, and it managed to sustain the level of nervousness the story demanded.
In the first half, where we see the transition of Denny from being a loyal and loving husband to a disinterested partner, the performance is sort of caricature-ish when he is the latter. But the film offers a great space for the actor Vinay Forrt in the second half, and he was really good at pulling off the mental strain of his character. As Thani, Anu Sithara has a very stable graph. Anu’s performance felt a bit more natural in the scenes that depicted the rift between the two. Krishna Shankar, in his usual style, plays the Casanova friend. As the insurance agent, Merin Philip was also fine in her role. Even though it was a minimal character, I really liked the performance of Sruthy Jayan in the film.
I’m not sure whether my assumption is correct. But considering the limited locations and minimal characters, Vaathil seems to be one of the corona-designed OTT projects. The elaborate first act of the movie that actually goes beyond the first half is a bit of a problem. But if you can sit through that portion, a reasonably engaging and nail-biting second act will keep you interested in the movie. Even though the tail end of the film is a bit over the top in terms of imagination, it never felt outlandish.
If you can sit through the first half, a reasonably engaging and nail-biting second act will keep you interested in the movie.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended