Having been an admirer of T R Silambarasan's previous venture "Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa", I was keen on checking Vaanam out, irrespective of whether I'd have to review it. I have to say, it was a disappointment. Unlike Ko, it isn't even engaging. Ko staggered uphill and experienced a free fall. Vaanam doesn't run aground; it simply never took off.
Vaanam has stories of five different people appearing to ultimately converge. Let me brief you on the characters.
1. Cable Raja (Silambarasan), a slum dweller who has pulled the wool over his girlfriend's eyes and fails to cope with the same.
2. Bharath (Bharath), a rebellious youngster who is keen to prove to society that he can make it as a rock star.
3. Saroja (Anushka), a sex worker generating extra profit after working hours.
4. Hamid (Prakash Raj), a victim of communal riots in search of his brother.
5. Revathi (Saranya), a poor weaver's wife who's willing to donate her kidney if it guarantees a life devoid of child labour for her son.
It has parallel storytelling but the jarring tonal shifts, just when we start connecting with the characters, cause the intensity of the scenes to dissolve. The transitions between scenes aren't smooth, they feel like they're cutaways to the previous scene. The film isn't clear about its intentions. It shows doctors, policemen and saints in bad light but shows illegal organ donors, thieves, prostitutes and terrorists in good light. Then it adheres to changing them into 'good' people. Krish, go back to the editing room and disentangle Vaanam. Your characters are stuck in it.
Yuvan Shankar Raja's music is Vaanam's insurance. If it turns out to be a box office bomb, at least it can recover from the record sales. Evan di unna pethan being released early is a marketing strategy. It certainly generated the required buzz. The tacky flashing of bright colours in evan di unna pethaan is used as hypnotism to catch your attention.
After repeated failed attempts, the film forces you to care for its characters by making them physically duel with armed terrorists. Vaanam's melodramatic ending will work with the regular audience because it is manipulative; it is a full-fledged attempt at inducing positive energy in you by creating an emotionally charged memory. You will forget how hole hearted the movie was until then. Better yet, that positive energy will aid in advertising the film via word of mouth. Vaanam should be screened at business schools. It is more of a well-marketed product than an honest film. Every scene has been reworked using the audience's possible reaction as a reference.
The film says that you're supposed to help the people who hurt you the most, love the people who hate you the most and be just to the most unjust. It's inhuman but it's what you are supposed to do. The film preaches altruism; choose the welfare of strangers over that of yours. If Krish really believed that, we wouldn't have to pay to see Vaanam. When are we going to be screened films that show us for what we are instead of telling us how we should be?
Vaanam is a flat out bad film. It gives me the idea that Krish's a perfunctory film director. What I remember about the experience most was myself tossing and turning about in my seat. It's a pity I won't get my three hours back.
Prakash Raj and Silambarasan squeeze out whatever little juice there is from Vaanam to showcase their acting abilities but nothing can save this absolute mess of a film. It should've languished in development hell. In the film, Silambarasan repeatedly says "Enna Vazhkai." Something I'd expect him to say walking out of Vaanam.
Vaanam is an unrealistic film about uninteresting undeveloped characters that deadlocks into blandness.
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