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'Mathu Vadalara' review: Till ‘meth’ does us apart

Sri Simha in a still from the film

Sri Simha in a still from the film   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

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A relatively new and young team puts forth a partly comic, partly trippy thriller

At the fag end of the year comes a small surprise, in the form of Mathu Vadalara. They could have titled it ‘Meth’u Vadalara and it would have been more apt. Nevertheless, a character wears a t-shirt with the words ‘jab we meth’, which befits the world he’s created for himself.

There are plenty of pop culture references, from a smattering of songs and dialogues from Chiranjeevi’s films to ‘Que sera, sera’. Some of these amplify the fun and tension in the partly comic, partly thriller kind of narrative, while some of these stick out like it’s part of an experiment.

An experiment it is, by a relatively new and young cast and crew, led by writer-director Ritesh Rana and co-writer R Teja. Cast in one of the central roles is Sri Simha, son of composer Keeravani. The composer’s other son, singer Kaala Bhairava, takes up the composition mantle for this film. The music and sound design, coupled with the cinematography (Suresh Sarangam) and editing (Karthika Srinivas), give this film an edgy look that enhances the mood of the narrative.

Mathu Vadhalara
  • Cast: Sri Simha, Naresh Agastya, Satya, Vennela Kishore
  • Direction: Ritesh Rana
  • Music: Kaala Bhairava

The film opens in a run down bachelor pad inhabited by three men — Babu (Sri Simha), Yesu (Sathya) and Abhi (Naresh Agastya). The first two work as delivery boys for an online consumer portal and the last one just wakes up and watches content on his laptop, ranging from unintentionally hilarious locally-made serials to Sherlock.

Babu is miffed when at the end of the month, he’s paid just ₹4000 as salary instead of the promised ₹11,000. Yesu is paid even lesser, and gleefully donates ₹500 to the office fund. Yesu, it turns out, makes a lot more than his salary by hoodwinking unsuspecting customers. Babu doesn’t want to go that way, but frustrated that he can’t earn enough to meet his own needs and send some money home, he gives it a try. Soon, he finds himself being dragged down a twisted wormhole from which there seems to be no exit.

New characters keep popping up along the way — a sharp tongued grandmother, Bujji (Vidyu Raman) who wants to smoke weed, Ravi (Vennela Kishore), police constable (Brahmaji), Athulya Chandra, and a few others who make up the web that Babu has to navigate. A running gag of a couple in a television serial caught in an odd set of circumstances adds to the fun.

Someone is killed, there’s a lot of money, a lot more meth and plenty of questions. Sathya gets some of the best lines and it’s understandable the title card says ‘re-introducing Sathya’. Naresh as the in-house Sherlock is a good find. Simha, to borrow a phrase from one of the characters, goes with the flow since that’s what is required on his part for this story.

When the mess gets entangled, we re-navigate to see the clues that were hiding in plain sight. However, what happens after the final reveal isn’t as interesting as the lead up to it. It could have been even smarter.

Mathu Vadalara isn’t a very crafty thriller, which it could have been with some more effort. But it’s definitely a step in that direction by a new team that’s brimming with ideas.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 2:50:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/mathu-vadalara-review-a-partly-comic-partly-trippy-thriller-from-a-new-team/article30394845.ece

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