‘Varshangalkku Shesham’ movie review: Vineeth Sreenivasan’s humour holds together this ode to cinema and friendship

Nivin Pauly excels in the humorous scenes, as does Dhyan Sreenivasan in the emotional sequences; Vineeth has given career-reviving turns to both of them

April 11, 2024 04:37 pm | Updated April 12, 2024 08:34 am IST

A still from ‘Varshangalkku Shesham’ 

A still from ‘Varshangalkku Shesham’ 

Vineeth Sreenivasan, from the wealth of his experience, appears to be acutely aware of the barbs that would be coming his way after a film’s release. In Varshangalkku Shesham, his sixth directorial, he launches a preemptive strike at such barbs by indulging in some uncharacteristic self-mockery. But then, let that not fuel expectations of Vineeth charting a fresh path. Once all the jibes directed at his own self are done, he slides back to his nostalgic, feel-good comfort zone, located somewhere in Chennai.

Much of the story revolves around the friendship between Venu (Dhyan Sreenivasan), an aspiring screenwriter and filmmaker, and Murali (Pranav Mohanlal), a musician. As was the trend back in the 1970s, they head to Madras with dreams of making it big in cinema. Fortune wavers, showering them fame and failure in equal measure.

Vineeth attempts to tell the tale of outsiders finding their feet in a cut-throat industry, although there’s a bit of irony, as the actors who are playing them are anything but outsiders. The emotional core of Varshangalkku Shesham is written around the changing shades of the relationship between these two men and the evolution of the film industry in the intervening years, but somehow it is not a deeply affecting tale especially because of the weakly-written conflicts.

Varshangalkku Shesham
Director: Vineeth Sreenivasan
Cast: Pranav Mohanlal, Dhyan Sreenivasan, Nivin Pauly, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Neeta Pillai
Storyline: In the 1970s, two Malayali youths with celluloid dreams head to Madras with dreams of making it big in the industry
Runtime: 165 minutes

The flimsy reasons for their drifting apart or even the characterisation of Murali, as someone who seems to look down on commercial cinema music, but at the same time rues his missed opportunity in the industry, just do not sit well. But what saves the movie is the shift in tone that happens in the second half, as the melodrama takes a backseat and Vineeth unleashes his comic energy.

Nivin Pauly, with the able support of Basil Joseph, lifts the film with a performance that has ‘meta’ written all over it. As Nithin Molly, a narcissistic actor who is badly in need of a hit, he takes head on all the things that he was lampooned with on social media, and completely owns it. Except for a few tasteless scenes of how the star treats his female fans, his sequences are a laugh riot. He excels in the humorous scenes, as does Dhyan in the emotional sequences; Vineeth has given career-reviving turns to both of them.

A still from ‘Varshangalkku Shesham’ 

A still from ‘Varshangalkku Shesham’ 

Many of the scenes are replete with inside jokes and references to the film industry and yesteryear movies. At times, the film feels like a tribute to those who chose not to sell out and stood for their artistic ideals, but one wishes there was better writing to convey this, as well as the other intended emotions of long-lost friendship and of achieving celluloid dreams. Though young musician Amrit Ramnath uses a lot of string sections to eke out emotions, the lack of depth in the conflicts makes his efforts only partially successful.

With regards to the the events that happen in present day, the make-up for the artistes leaves a lot to be desired, with only Dhyan able to convince us of his age. As for Kalyani Priyadarshan and Neeta Pillai, the female leads, there is hardly any scope for performance.

Varshangalkku Shesham ends up as an earnest ode to cinema and friendship, which would have punched much lower if not for the humour that holds it together, and at times elevates it.

Varshangalkku Shesham is currently running in theatres

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