There is no denying that the movie Varthamanam is a direct attack against the ruling government and its hyper-nationalism driven policies. Starting with the Rohith Vemula incident, Aryadan Shoukath is trying to include every act of the system against the minorities and the Dalits in this country. But how hard-hitting is the treatment is the question here. Varthamanam felt more like dramatic documentation of many events that happened in national politics, which considering the present-day circumstances, is indeed a significant achievement.
Faiza, our central protagonist, is the granddaughter of a freedom fighter. She has now come to New Delhi to do her research on another freedom fighter, Abdur Rahiman Sahib. During her visit, she made new friends on that campus who were fighting against the right-wing and it’s fascist agenda. How it evolves her as an individual and what all she had to go through is what we see in Varthamanam.
Whether Varthamanam will work for you or not is totally dependent on how aware are you about the current political climate in the world’s largest democracy. In my observation, there are way too many apolitical people in our society who just ignore issues like Jamia Millia, farmer’s protest, etc., by simply stating that they have enough personal problems. I hope maybe the popularity of actors like Parvathy Thiruvothu and Roshan Mathew can bring some of those audiences to the theatre, and the movie can at least give them an idea of what’s really happening.
Sidhartha Siva is not getting much help from the script to keep things natural and subtle. The script written by Aryadan Shoukath wants to address a handful of pertinent events happening in modern India. And to establish that he is using this small friend circle of Faiza. It sort of gives the whole movie the vibe of a street play. Shoukath is not only targeting the right-wing members through this film. The Muslim fundamentalists are also shown in a bad light here. But this balancing act is very evident, and I was hoping Sidhartha Siva could have packaged these things a little more subtly. At times the treatment almost forgets the cinematic narrative the viewer might be looking for as the topic here is highly relevant. The cinematography was on the average side, and one can clearly sense the movie’s limitations in terms of production design.
Parvathy Thiruvothu as Faiza delivers yet another convincing performance. Faiza isn’t that over the top in the way she communicates, but she has an idea about right and wrong. Roshan Mathew as Amal maintains the energy and flow of that enthusiastic leader. His Hindi sounded really fluent, and there was that realness in dialogue delivery that made that character likable. Siddique, as the fearless and supportive professor, was good. Sanju Shivaram was memorable. Dain Davis and Nirmal Palazhi were added for the sake of comedy, and they rarely felt relevant for the movie.
As I said, Varthamanam has that artistic courage to stand with the suppressed and talk against the corrupted system. But for a movie to have an impact, the drama needs to have a bit more depth rather than addressing multiple issues for the sake of being politically contemporary. It’s the kind of movie that you would wish had a better impact.
Varthamanam felt more like dramatic documentation of many events that happened in national politics, which considering the present-day circumstances, is indeed a significant achievement.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended