Vellam Malayalam Movie Review

Feature Film | U | Drama | 2h 34min
Jayasurya and Samyuktha Menon excel in a decent tale of an alcohol addict. More than the performances in Vellam, it is the casting that does wonders here. For instance, Murali is a man committed to overcoming his flaws played by an actor who is so committed to his craft.
Jan 24, 2021 By Sreejith Mullappilly

Writer-director Prajesh Sen's 'Vellam' tells the story of an alcohol addict, Murali played by Jayasurya. In every second of his life, Murali is thinking about when to have the next sip of liquor. This man is so addicted to alcohol that he would do pretty much anything for a drink. Even cough syrup would do to have a mental high for him. This habit earns him the nickname 'waterman'.

His wife, played by Samyuktha Menon, is so frustrated by the man that she tells her neighbor that you may marry a thief, but not an alcoholic. It is an insightful line that tells you how big a lie her marriage has been.

The makers say that Vellam is a story based on a real-life character. I would presume this is the same story in any Kerala household with an alcoholic. I have seen this happen to some people in my life. After all, a story of domestic abuse and a marriage situation would only echo real life.

Our elders often say that you may consume alcohol, but never let it take over your life. An issue with Vellam is that there are several scenes where some of the characters say that. I found that to be slightly problematic in that the criticism of the habit is only mild and is filtered through the movie characters. It is like saying, 'It is OK to drink, but only in moderation'. While that may be a fair point, it is also a case of stating the obvious.

I also felt let down by how the makers of Vellam treated the main female character in some portions here. When the movie reaches a point where she must speak her mind, the makers filter out her feelings through a male character. That is completely unnecessary.

What is impressive about the movie is the way in which it shows how alcoholism affects the main characters' lives, especially Murali and his wife. Sen's script allows his actors to sink their teeth into the material with much scope for performance.

It is another role with some boldness for Samyuktha Menon, and the actress does not disappoint. With her cold stares, steely expressions, and restraint, Samyuktha lets us explore the many facets of her character even without much dialogue. On a lighter note, she is not having much luck with her recent characters, though. In Theevandi, too, she was stuck in a marriage with an addict; only here, she is not wiping away a trail of ashes.

Jayasurya is also in fine form here as the man with the drinking problem. Jayasurya has an everyman quality and goodness in him, which make us see through his rough edges and reach out to him. The actor has that effect on us here, which is probably the highest compliment you may give him.

Jayasurya is only getting better with each film, and after Vellam, you might also admire him more for the commitment he shows to his craft. The makers kind of pay a tribute to him in the film, unnecessary stretching its run time by 10 minutes. It is unnecessary because seeing the scene of him running a piece of agricultural equipment, would itself remind us of the time where the actor almost hurt himself during the shoot for it. Talk about commitment, Jayasurya seems to have it in abundance.

Sreejith Mullappilly