Arun Prabhu Purushothaman’s second film after Aruvi, Vaazhl, has aspirations to be visually surreal. He is pushing a very used out theme in the modern day to a visceral level. But the jumps are extremely jarring. He is trying to narrate this story of asking people to live your life fully, do what you love, etc. The kind of theme we have seen in most of the films of Ranbir Kapoor. But Arun’s genuine effort to create something novel results in creating a movie that is incoherent in certain major areas. Thus Vaazhl becomes an enticing idea which needed a bit more breathing space.
The story revolves around Prakash, an IT guy living this mundane life with all the frustrations. One day during the funeral ceremony of a relative, he happens to see another relative of his and falls for her without knowing that she was married. At a later point, after realizing that she is married and has a kid, this lady, Yatramma, comes to his place in Chennai and asks for some help as her husband was in Hyderabad. She then requests Prakash to accompany her and her kid Yatra for a road trip, and the soft corner makes Prakash take the risk. How this journey catapults into something enormous is what Vaazhl is telling us.
For me, Vaazhl belongs to that category of a film that has enough in it to become a debate on a craft analysis level because you can see Arun Prabhu Purushothaman using the medium very extensively to convey his idea. The aspect ratios are changing according to the narrative. There are anecdotes in the movie that feel irrelevant initially, but somewhere becomes a clue of what the film is trying to talk about. The subplots in the movie aren’t added pointlessly. They all add up to the philosophy it wants to propagate. But where Vaazhl fumble is in the way, it shifts its gears. After staying with Yatramma for a long while, it suddenly jumps to the Tanya track and the whole island chapter very abruptly. I can understand the reason why Arun wants to place this character on that visually exquisite island. But the journey towards that needed more conviction.
Pradeep Anthony performs the role of Prakash in a very convincing way. It’s a character who is constantly in that baffled mind space, and Pradeep made him look real on-screen. TJ Bhanu as Yatramma deserves a special mention. Her character is a tricky one. Because in the first half of the movie, we are really trying to solve this mystery of whether she is using Prakash to escape or she has something good in her. And Bhanu’s performance had both those shades to keep us engaged. Aahrav as Yatra was good, and Diva Dhawan looked convincing but didn’t have much space to perform.
In the first half an hour of the movie, Arun Prabhu Purushothaman treats Vaazhl as a loud satire where our hero is somewhat judging the decisions of everyone in his life. The film takes a black comedy kind of detour after the entry of Yatramma. This was perhaps the most exciting chapter in the movie. Because Arun is giving us some space to guess and yet he surprises us with dramatic events. After this, there is a sudden jump in the movie. This sudden shift from Tamilnadu to an uninhabited foreign island was drastic, and there wasn’t enough juice in the screenplay to make us ignore the illogical tone of the shift. Visual storytelling is a major tool for Arun Prabhu Purushothaman, and he uses aerial shots and extremely wide establishing shots to set the mood of each phase of the movie.
Coming from the man who created Aruvi, Vaazhl is definitely unique when you look at the movies that had the same theme at its core. The idea here is to create a story that transitions in a “ridiculous” way to convey this philosophy that everyone whom you meet can change your life. It hasn’t gone wrong for Vaazhl, but it definitely needed a lot more fine-tuning.
The idea here is to create a story that transitions in a “ridiculous” way to convey this philosophy that everyone whom you meet can change your life.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended