I remember having read somewhere that there are just a handful of stories in this world. You tell them once, and then everything that is left is just retelling. And yet, a few manage to grab our attention by the way they express themselves, and you feel you have never heard this one before. Veetulekkula Vazhi is one such film that makes you want to believe in it, though in parts.
Here is a doctor without a name (Prithviraj), who takes upon himself a strange task - that of delivering a young boy to his father, who doesn't even know he has a son. The father happens to be a dreaded terrorist Tariq, and the doctor has his own reasons for embarking on this voyage.
The message that the film carries is loud and clear. There is no ambiguity about it at all, and in no time does it state that the hate in the world is without a reason. There is even an argument between the doctor and Razaq (Indrajith), a terrorist, on the futility of it all. Razaq cuts it short with a remark that this discussion is headed nowhere, and its better hence that they stopped bickering over it.
The film could very easily qualify for a road movie in that it starts off at Kerala, moves to Delhi, and then to Rajasthan - to Pushkar, Ajmer, Jaisalmer and finally Ladakh. The journey is a strenuous one, and at a point the heat gets the better of the doctor and he falls down exhausted. At the end of it all, he finds himself at another end of this remarkable country where the chilliness seeps into his bones as he sits in wait.
One cannot be beguiled however by the vast expanses of Ladakh though. The blemishes are there as well, and some very jarring ones at that. At the centre of them all, is the astonishment that everyone that the doctor runs into expresses, on his extraordinary act of kindness, that eventually sounds like an effort to dab a few subtle touches of heroism over the protagonist.
There are also attempts to deliberately explain the obvious like in the scene where a terrorist opens up a football to let us have a peek at the bomb inside it. Dragging in Orhan Pamuk into the picture, and telling the boy an uncharacteristically philosophical bedtime story that should have sapped him out further are other frail spots on this film.
Prithvi delivers a restrained performance in Veetulekkulla Vazhi, and adds up another film that's worth a mention in his repertoire. Indrajith in a few scenes proves yet again, what a charming actor he is, while Govardhan, the five year old actor matches up in talent with both of them. Uday Chandra who plays the Baba in the desert should not be missed as well.
M J Radhakrishnan's frames are undoubtedly the best thing about the film. The picturesque landscape of a spectacular land has been marvelously captured on film, thereby making Veetilekkulla Vazhi a visual delight. There is also the soulful background score by Pandit Ramesh Narayan that lends a further polish to the film.
Veetilekkulla Vazhi (The Road Home) probes into the by now familiar and much discussed issue of terrorism, and in doing so doesn't really break any new ground.
As it stands however, it remains a commanding statement on the worthlessness of wars fought in the name of religion.