Sunday, February 28, 2016

വേട്ട (Vettah) (2016)

Director: Rajesh Pillai
Writer:    Arunlala Ramachandran
Cast:       Kunchacko Boban, Manju Warrier, Indrajith
Language: Malayalam

Story revolves around a commissioner of Police, Sreebala (Manju Warrier), who is investigating a missing celebrity case with the help of her ACP colleague Xylex Abraham (Indrajith). The whodunnit part of the case gets resolved quite quickly when they capture Melvin Philips (Kunchacko Boban) but things gets murkier as they question him further in order to recover the body.

The director of the film passed away yesterday, a day after the release of the film. He had health issues even when he was shooting this film and it was reported that he was not fully involved during the post-production work. He is someone who is considered to be an important figure for the revival of Malayalam cinema which is also described as the 'New-Gen wave'. It can be disputed whether his second film, Traffic, was indeed the first among the many that followed it but it is indisputable that the big box office success of that film was indeed a turning point. It is not a film that I rate very highly but the risk that he took with the multiple story line format was indeed worth applauding since it was not very familiar for the normal Malayalee audience. The film had its flaws because of the less than perfect expositions. 

Coming back to Vettah, it has been billed as Malayalam's first 'Mind-Games' film. Like in Traffic, Kunchacko again plays a role which seems negative. The jumps in timelines are presented without making it very explicit which is proof that the director trusts his audience to follow it. But some scenes seemed very muddled as well and it might be because of the director not being involved very much during the editing part of the film. It is usual in Malayalam for these type of films to end up as very contrived affairs and Vettah is no different on that regard. As far as down to earth investigative films are concerned, I consider Padmarajan's 'Kariyila Kaatupole' to be the gold standard in spite of its extremely contrived and improbable ending. I don't think there is any other film of goodish nature from Malayalam where the culprit is manipulating the investigating officers to compare it with. In English, it is a genre onto itself with films like 'The Usual Suspects' and 'Se7en'. Vettah is a good effort considering all the constraints we have in terms of audience's expectations. I would have preferred a more subtle storytelling approach but that is not what the director is going for. BGMs employed are proof for that but I did enjoy the campy nature of the film. 

As far as performances are concerned, Indrajith was quite average and Manju Warrier played it straight. Kunchacko Boban does shine in his role which anyway had the best scope for delivering a standout performance. A recent event of shocking nature is used quite well in the film. Kunchacko Boban's cynicism regarding obtaining justice from the system here is not convincingly conveyed and it would have helped if the characters played by both Manju Warrier and Indrajith were portrayed in a more negative fashion like Prithviraj's character from 'Mumbai Police' or Asha Sharath's from 'Drishyam'.  Overall, it is a decent one time watch and is a better film than Traffic, in my opinion.

Rating: 2.5/5