Varathan has all the typical ingredients one see in an Amal Neerad film. Stylized slow-motion walks, yellow tinted frames, guns, fights etc. are there to make sure that we are in for an Amal Neerad film. But what makes Varathan an impressive thriller is the intrigue it builds to reach the showdown climax and also the fabulously blended political texture. The 130 minutes long movie never lets you question its authenticity and the last 20 minutes or so has the nice blend of commercial and creative flavors.
Abin and Priya, a married couple is our central protagonists. They were working in different professions in Dubai and due to professional life problems, they both decided to come back to the homeland and spend some time in the farmhouse owned by Priya’s family. Reaching that place where the mindset was conservative and feudal, Priya happens to experience a lot of torture emotionally. Varathan is ultimately about how an outsider like Abin manages to react to this side of the social evil.
Patriarchy and moral policing are the character traits of the antagonists here. The good thing about the making is that it never becomes loud about this aspect of the character. Amal Neerad gives that venomous and toxic outlook to his negative characters. And he hasn’t tried to cast actors who are physically tough which gives the emotional torture the characters undergo a relatable feel. For almost 70% of the movie, the effort is given to building that creepy ambiance. There were only a few moments I felt they were making unnecessary distractions. Beyond that, the storytelling manages to keep us interested in how things are going to proceed from now on. The post-interval combination of survival + reaction makes Varathan a movie that pleases even the audience who likes escapist cinema.
Towards the end of the movie, we have one character saying to others that Abi might be a Maoist and I just loved how Sharafu and Suhas made that character say that about our hero just because he questioned and reacted to the dominant and orthodox villains. There are many such instances of reference to the current political scenario and the good thing is that it isn’t diluted to reach everyone and yet it is evident. There are no loosely written characters in this movie and that was a really good thing about this film. Amal Neerad can’t leave the stylish aspect from his filmmaking and in fact, he manages to restrain himself from that in the middle portions of tension and then utilizes this strength of his to give power to the climax. There are a lot of mirrors here in the frames and Littil Swayamp uses that effectively and they have played with the color palette as well which wasn’t that pleasing for certain portions like the first song. The cuts have been made understanding the tension of the situation and Sushin Shyam’s background score has the stuff to make the movie look exciting and stylish. As always Amal Neerad knows how to make whistle worthy action sequences.
Fahadh Faasil has this infectious grace in his mannerism. His eyes are his best features when it comes to acting and the actor uses it fabulously in a character that looks a bit monotonous. It will sound boring if I appreciate him for being natural in front of the camera. Aishwarya Lakshmi passed the test of grabbing the attention of the viewers in a movie where she has a lot of combination sequence with someone like Fahadh Faasil. Her reactions and outbursts were genuine on screen and I enjoyed the post hospital scene. Dileesh Pothan in his typical style easily becomes that all in all character. Sharafudheen gets a role that could give him a better scope as a character actor. The decision to cast Sharafudheen, Arjun Ashokan, Vijilesh etc as the baddies in a way gives Varathan a realness rather than some of the previous Amal Neerad films which used the clichéd villain concepts. Nisthar Sait, Chetan Jayalal, Unnimaya Prasad and a few more are there as small yet memorable characters.
Varathan is engaging, intriguing and most importantly it is political in the most subtle way. The entertaining mass action films should exist in the industry and I would say something like a Varathan is an answer to how that genre should evolve.
The entertaining mass action films should exist in the industry and I would say something like a Varathan is an answer to how that genre should evolve.