We’ve seen numerous ‘ amma sentiment’ films in Tamil cinema. And some ‘ appa sentiment' ones too.
Varisu, Vijay’s latest outing at the box office, not only puts together these two aspects that Tamil cinema has milked for many years, but also adds another dimension: sentiment among brothers. With so much material about a family that has myriad problems between its members, Varisu resembles the popcorn tub that has seen many rounds of flavoured seasonings.
Bland popcorn in the movies isn’t exciting anymore, and that seems to be the case with on-screen proceedings as well. Vijay has certainly experimented with genres in his last few films – Bigil was a sports drama, and Beast was about people stuck inside a mall – but this time, with Varisu, he goes back to a formula that has worked well for him in the past: family.
Remember Vijay’s family in Minsara Kanna (1999), a group of rich people masquerading to be poor to unite two people? In Varisu, they are rich – and very rich at that. The house they live in, which we see a few minutes into the film, is among the most lavish residences you’d have ever seen in Tamil cinema. The characters inside talk business and deal in crores, chief among them being Rajendaran (Sarath Kumar) whose business rival is Jayaprakash (Prakash Raj). Rajendaran proudly flaunts his two sons – played by Srikanth and Shaam – but is reticent about talking about Vijay, his youngest son. Why’s that? Will Vijay agree to ditch his carefree life – the first time we see him, he’s on a bike trip and enjoying Nature’s sights and sounds – and show interest in his father’s multi-crore business?
For a first half that relies heavily on the slow, TV serial-like sequences, Varisu has little heft to the emotional beats; the mother-son relationship seems superficial, while the brothers’ tussle to take over a multi-crore business seems trivial. Not aiding in the cause is some very average comic relief from Yogi Babu and a love story with Rashmika that seems to be going nowhere. It is only in the second half that Varisu picks up some steam. A character’s decision seems to find some payback, and once Vijay gets into his all-familiar cutesy-fun zone, Varisu becomes a different beast.
There are a few theatrical moments that are bound to hit the mark. Sparking off old Vijay film references in an important business meeting is an idea that Vijay’s fans will celebrate in the cinema halls, as will they, when the star gets dancing to the fast-paced ‘Ranjithame ’. Those last few seconds, uff.
But, as with most hero films, Varisu too needs Vijay to play the knight in shining armour for every small problem in the house. And thus, we have an unnecessary track on someone getting kidnapped and Vijay saving the day; things that could have been taken off to lessen the 170-minute long runtime. Music composer Thaman gets the dance numbers right, and cinematographer Karthik Palani adds colour to the sequences, but it is Vijay who seems to be having the most fun.
After a long time, it is heartening to see him get back to being humourous and goofy. There are plenty of moments in the second half – especially during his conversations with his brothers and Prakash Raj’s gang – during which Vijay goes back to having fun and being the hero we loved a few decades back, before he became too socially conscious in his roles. Beyond Varisu’s staid plot and saccharine emotional beats, that’s what stays in your mind in this Vamshi Paidipally directorial.
Varisu is currently running in theatres