Not spelling everything out and not underestimating the intelligence of the audience is a virtue, but leaving them hanging mid-air without adequate explanations towards the end, is certainly not. More so, when the film, till that point, had managed to build some level of anticipation through its evenly-paced narrative. Not lifting the shroud of mystery — in this case around a character — does not add much to the film, but ends up taking away a lot.
Filmmaker Vineeth Kumar's second outing Dear Friend revolves around a group of young Malayalis staying together at a house in Bengaluru. They party, they have fun, they lean on each other in troubled times, and even have mild fights at times, just like most other friends. Vinod (Tovino Thomas), Arjun (Arjun Lal), Shyam (Arjun Radhakrishnan) and Sajith (Basil Joseph) are trying hard to secure funding for a start-up, while Jannath (Darshana Rajendran) is practising as a psychologist. Things are looking good for all of them, but their world turns upside-down when Vinod disappears from their lives one fine day, leaving no trace.
When Vineeth Kumar made his debut seven years back with Ayal Njanalla, he had a great theme on his hands, but it ended up being a disappointment in the execution part. Compared to that, in Dear Friend, written by Sharfu and Suhas, he looks very much in control, sure of what he wants from the material. The script takes its own time in painting a picture of the world that they inhabit, their idiosyncrasies and each of their personal concerns. One of them wants to grow out of the shadow of his wealthy family and tread his own path, while another is looking at better opportunities as the start-up is not taking off as they intended.
Vinod is not the odd one out; rather he is one of the pivots around which the group revolves, making his unexplained disappearance even more serious for them. A good part of the film is written around the friends’ quest to unravel Vinod’s true identity and the reasons for his disappearance. An accurate picture of the man remains elusive, from all the information that comes trickling in from the many doors that they knock at. The audience too remains hopeful of some kind of explanation, but what the film serves in the end — after all the painful work of building the suspense — appears to pour cold water onto all such expectations.
Director: Vineeth Kumar
Cast: Tovino Thomas, Darshana Rajendran, Basil Joseph, Arjun Radhakrishnan, Arjun Lal, Sanchana Natarajan
It almost gives an impression of a lack of enough material, after giving us an opposite impression all through. Or maybe, this is all the material they had and there is nothing more to be said. Those who believe in the old saying of the journey being more important than the destination, might enjoy the whole process, but for the others, it can be a disappointment when they reach there.
Dear Friend is currently running in theatres