Varaal Review | Thamarakkulam’s Political Thriller Is Better off as a Lucifer Spoof

Kannan Thamarakkulam is a director who has maintained consistency in keeping his movies in that trashy space. Writer Anoop Menon has shown interest in that trashy terrain through his last two directorial ventures, Padma and King Fish. Varaal, the new Malayalam political thriller, marks the teaming up of these two talents, and barring the length of the director’s name, nothing seems to have changed in Varaal. With Anoop Menon trying his luck at being a beta Khureshi Ab’raam, the only way to enjoy this film is by looking at it as a spoof of Lucifer.

The movie is about the next assembly elections in Kerala. LPF and CDF are the major political fronts in the state, and LPF is aiming for a third term under the leadership of current CM Achuthan Nair. But the third attempt of CDF surprises everyone when a wealthy businessman named David John Medayil gets nominated as the CM candidate. The repercussions of that decision are what you see in Varaal.

It is very clear that the idea of reverse honey trapping is what made Anoop Menon write a story around it. But his signature rhetoric style just makes it exhausting for the audience. We are shown the fear and tension on the faces of the opposite party workers when they knew he was the CM candidate, as some past issues were there. And looking at the way this film ends, I am clueless about why they wasted so much footage on that past emotional baggage. The build-up around the character of David is unintentionally funny, and everything that happens after that is face-palm scenarios where the makers seem to be very serious. Towards the end, even Anoop Menon knew that his character becoming a CM would look like a joke, and he covers it up by writing a joke about that.

Barring that fake-looking beard Anoop Menon is very much playing himself as David John Medayil. He has no plans to challenge the actor in him, even when he is the writer. Prakash Raj may have taken a significant space on the posters and promotional materials, but the movie is only interested in his screen presence. Suresh Krishna plays the stereotypical pedophile Muslim leader, and to balance it out, Anoop Menon has created the secular Muslim character played by Sai Kumar. Shankar Ramakrishnan gets to play the Mooppan equivalent, who raves about David during the first 15 minutes. And yeah, his secret affair is with a popular activist actress in Malayalam. Priyanka Nair plays the role of the understanding wife who is okay with her husband’s one-night stands and flirtations. Madhuri Braganza, Senthil Krishna, Sudheer, Gowri Nandha, Nandhu, Jayakrishnan, and several other faces seen in Kannan Thamarakkulam movies, along with Renji Panicker, Hareesh Peradi, etc., are present here as well.

From Udumbu onwards, it seems like Kannan Thamarakkulam believes that this dark-ish lighting will hide several things in the frame, including terrible filmmaking. The cinematography by Ravichandran is overly stylized, and it is not really his fault. Both Kannan Thamarakkulam and Anoop Menon are trying to stylize this movie as if to make the viewer think that there is a hidden layer to everything. But once the twist happens and everything gets revealed, we realize how basic the story was and how insignificant some of the sequences in the first half were. The background music is far too generic and loud.

Varaal is Anoop Menon and Kannan Thamarakkulam’s version of something like Lucifer. And since it is Anoop Menon, some kinky stuff has to be there, along with a tougher vocabulary. Some movies are enjoyable because you feel like laughing at them for the kind of entertainment it provides by being lackluster. Varaal definitely aces in that category.

Final Thoughts

Some movies are enjoyable because you feel like laughing at them for the kind of entertainment it provides by being lackluster. Varaal definitely aces in that category.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.