Some movies ‘show’ you what it wants you to see, while the better ones manage to transport you to the time and the place, passing on to you every emotion that the characters go through. At its various points, Aashiq Abu’s Virus makes you feel the uneasiness and the dread of those afflicted with an unknown illness and the sense of hope and exhilaration at being part of a committed group of health workers, who are hot on the trail of a virus that is spreading much too fast.
When the public memory of an event is fresh, the ones fictionalising it have a challenge on their hands, from the predictability of the material at hand to the limited room for manoeuvre from the original events. If Aashiq Abu and his team of writers grappled with these concerns, the end result does not show it.
- Starring: Revathy, Parvathy, Rima Kallingal, Kunchakko Boban, Tovino Thomas, Indrajith, Sreenath Bhasi
- Direction: Aashiq Abu
With the mystery surrounding the Nipah virus and the medical community running against time as the core story, the movie occasionally gives us glimpses of the individual stories, which are all long enough to make an impact, and yet short enough to never lose focus of the central plot. There is the mother who lives with the guilt that it all started from her son; the attender, who is on strike demanding a permanent job, comes back to work and puts his life on the line to shift the bodies of the dead; the ones who were afflicted only because they were kind enough to help a patient; and the real-life nurse who writes a dying wish for her child.
The process of contact tracking, the key to containing the virus, is used effectively to maintain the suspense till the end. From taking a jibe at the criminal conspiracy theorists who sell their ware in times of distress, to providing a close look at the effective functioning of the Government machinery during the Nipah crisis, the movie does not miss out on the details. Where it scores high though is in getting the atmospherics right, with an eerie soundtrack and haunting visuals.
With the second wave of Nipah being reported, concerns were high on whether the medical/survival drama would lead to more panic. However, this may just be the right time for such a realistic portrayal, which can only infuse more confidence among the people in our health system.
For a movie filled with an ensemble cast of the who’s who of Malayalam cinema, what occupies our mind as we leave the theatre is not one acting performance or one standout scene, but a heady mix of dread and hope, with the latter in some extra doses. This is perhaps the best way to pay tribute to that time, when we had many a selfless, nameless hero.