9 October 2018 | arungeorge13
A brilliant initial 90-100 mins followed by a masala-sprinkled climax! [+64%]
Yes, the core theme of 'Varathan' is heavily inspired by the 1971 home-invasion thriller 'Straw Dogs'. But what makes it worth a viewing is the way master-director Amal Neerad has incorporated all necessary elements to essentially 'Malayali-fy' it. The film opens in Dubai and moves quickly to an estate in Vagamon, Kerala. Having actors like Fahadh Fazil and Aishwarya Lekshmi portraying key characters (Abin and Priya) only elevates an already-intriguing plotline (especially for those who haven't seen 'Straw Dogs').
The new environs aren't the friendliest, to say the least, and it is Priya who notices this first. She is terrified at the fact that her former classmates are lusting after her even when she's a married woman. The tactics employed by Pappaali Josy (Sharafudheen) and his cronies to taunt Priya are ones that give women sleepless nights. Aishwarya Lekshmi plays the helpless (but wanting-to-give-it-back-to-em locals) woman to the T. Fahadh lends much-needed composure to the character of Abin, until he has no choice but to lay the baddies to waste.
The film is a slow-burn thriller with a payoff that boasts ample doses of masala. The quintessential 'break-point' arrives around the 90/100 min mark, and when it does, one or two retaliation strategies used by Abin, manage to leave the viewer reasonably pumped up. The music and background score (by Sushin Shyam) do add to the eerie feel of the film. Amal Neerad's directorial skills are also ably complemented by the subtle frames chosen by cinematographer Littil Swayamp. If only had Amal done away with some of his regular cinematic tropes (such as the excessive use of slow-motion, his choice to include a badly choreographed muddy rain fight as opposed to slower yet more effective, hard-hitting methods to inflict pain on the antagonists, and not giving the female protagonist enough masala moments as the male), 'Varathan' would have turned out to be a more thrilling cinematic experience.
In its current form, 'Varathan' is memorable while it lasts but the finale feels a little rushed and as I mentioned above, the punishment meted out to the baddies felt insufficient. Enjoy it for its realistic performances, brilliant camerawork, and splendid storytelling.