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Right from the day it was announced that both Vijay and Ajith films — Varisu and Thunivu — would be released for Pongal this year, fans of the competing actors began to keep track of which of the two films bags more theatres and which gets the privilege of the first show late night or early morning on the day of release.  It turns out that both Varisu and Thunivu hit the screen on January 11 at the same time.

The Vijay-starrer Varisu was originally speculated to be a family entertainer. But does it actually measure up to the expectations of a family drama?

TV serial on big screen?

Varisu has taken up the common theme of how the craze for money and power does not sync with family values of love and give-and-take.

The storyline goes as follows: spoiler alert!

Industrialist Rajendran (Sarathkumar) treats his family as a corporate and his sons Jai (Srikanth) and Ajai (Shaam) as administrators. His third son Vijay (played by the eponymous hero himself) refuses to follow the rigid and business-like system and walks out on his family. When the hero returns home to Chennai after a gap of seven years for his father’s 60th birthday celebrations held in honour of the old couple (Sarathkumar and Jayasudha), he finds to his shock that his father has already lost his grip over the family.

This is by no stretch of imagination a fresh storyline; in fact, it is a familiar repeat of the scripts of TV serials revolving around upper-middle-class families, crammed into three hours

Forced to take up the reins of the same family-corporate, Vijay rises to the occasion, earning the enmity of his siblings and a rival company owner Jayaprakash (Prakashraj). The rest of the story is hardly anyone’s guess. Yes. As you might guess, Vijay executes his heroic responsibility of pulling his family’s company out of the red, setting it upon the trajectory of growth, and forging unity in his family, at the same time making the enemies bite the dust in the long run.

This is by no stretch of imagination a fresh storyline; in fact, it is a familiar repeat of the scripts of TV serials revolving around upper-middle-class families, crammed into three hours. It is no wonder then that the illogicalities that abound in TV serials also permeate Vijay’s family drama. For instance, the hero’s mother does not bother to ask him how he patched up with his father with whom could not see eye-to-eye in the past.

Also Read: Pongal Releases: Ajith vs Vijay Rivalry peaks

Varisu has all the usual ingredients of a typical Vijay film, such as peppy song-and-dance numbers, punch lines, fiery stunt sequences and so on. Yet the first half of the film feels like a drawing room soap.

Rashmika missing
The family drama is hardly new terrain for Vijay. Yet, sensing the danger of his teen fans being disappointed over the familial melodrama, director Vamsi has spiced up the narrative with heroics and macho fights by the hero. The audience enjoys Vijay’s performance in songs like Paidipalli. But it does not feel the same when he jumps and hops in the stunt sequences. When it comes to comedy and sentiments, Vijay comes off brilliant, as before.

Film buffs who looked forward to Rashmika Mandana’s prank-laden performances earlier, are likely to be disappointed with her screen time, given that she got just two songs and a couple of scenes. Likewise, Khushbu having only a cameo role is also a let-down.

Sarathkumar and Jayasudha as the upper-middle-class old couple — domineering industrialist and a self-effacing mother — give memorable performances.

Prabhu as Sarathkumar’s friend, rival industrialist Prakashraj, Telugu actor Srikanth and Shaam as Vijay’s brothers, elder daughter-in-law Sangeetha and servant Yogibabu have all contributed their mite reasonably well to moving sequences.  The scene where S J Suryah appears in a guest role along with Vijay is bereft of logic and yet full of magic!

The family drama is hardly new terrain for Vijay. Yet, sensing the danger of his teen fans being disappointed over the familial melodrama, director Vamsi has spiced up the narrative with heroics and macho fights by the hero

Cinematographer Karthick Palani’s visuals feel glossy and glittering like the Taj Mahal monument when drenched in rains and then dried up in sunshine. As for Praveen K L’s editing, one feels that the placement of the flashback could have been different.

Musician Thaman’s background score complements and enhances the scene in which Vijay takes over the leadership of his father’s company. As the BGM thunders for the song Ranjithame Ranjithame, Vijay murmurs the old song Mochakotta Pallazhagi. The message seems to be that Ranjithamae is a tribute to the old song.

Also Read: Who’s the superstar now — Vijay or Ajith?

Vamsi fumbles
Director Vamsi’s earlier films Maharishi, Thozha, Evadu and Bhrindavanam had more than one sub-plot, so all characters had the chance to perform well. But he seems to have fumbled in Varisu where except Sarathkumar and Jayasudha nobody has much scope for performance.

Similarly Vamsi’s earlier films had several villains, which kept up the tempo of the narrative. But in Varisu even the main villain played by Prakashraj is hardly worth writing home about.

Before the film’s release, there was a controversy over Vijay’s hairstyle, with people wondering if he had begun using wigs. The doubts are cleared in the flashback. But there is a shot showing Vijay surfacing after a dip in the water, which seems like an attempt to put to rest the wig controversies.

Varisu’s story is by Vamsi, Hari and Ahishor Solomon. No scene is quite fresh. Yet they have shown their craftsmanship in how characters deal with one another through dialogue.

Film buffs who looked forward to Rashmika Mandana’s prank-laden performances earlier, are likely to be disappointed with her screen time, given that she got just two songs and a couple of scenes. Likewise, Khushbu having only a cameo role is also a let-down

What saves Varisu from being a yawny TV-serial are the Vijay-Yogi Babu comedy scenes.   Particularly, the way Vijay modulates his voice for comic effect is enjoyable.

Producer Dil Raju with director Vamsi at Rohini Silver screen (Photo credit: Twitter-melvin_mel)

While the first half of Varisu has the intention of keeping the audience glued to the screen, making the most of family sentiments, the second half leapfrogs to the world of Vijay’s he-man image, intended to keep Vijay fans at the edge of seats.

Though the film is a Pongal release, the general audience will flock to theatres only after the festival. It is that audience, large and reliable, that Vamsi targets with the film’s tear-jerking scenes and rib-tickling comedy.

So, Varisu may pay for itself.


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