Here's why Thalapathy Vijay's Varisu is not an easy film to put together
What makes Varisu, now streaming on Prime Video, so endearing is its firm denial of star-power enhancement at the cost of the plot. Director Vamshi Paidipally is an old hand at extracting plot-tailored performances from larger-than-life superstars.
It is easy to describe a film like Varisu as just a glib confection, designed to flatter Tamil superstar Vijay’s superstardom. Indeed Vijay’s performance, replete with a series of bodily quirks and jerks and jokes that land straight in the kindergarten of cinematic lexicon, is meant strictly for his ardent fans.
What makes Varisu, now streaming on Prime Video, so endearing is its firm denial of star-power enhancement at the cost of the plot. Director Vamshi Paidipally is an old hand at extracting plot-tailored performances from larger-than-life superstars. He has worked with Mahesh Babu in a number of Telugu hits. In fact Varisu was written with Mahesh Babu in mind.
Vijay is a trickier actor-factor than Mahesh. The fans are fanatically devoted to Vijay and they expect the star to play to the galleries which he happily does in Varisu, sometimes addressing the audience directly as he is prone to do in all his films. Songs, with dance steps that suggest a rustic cool, call Vijay out as ‘Thalaiva’ and other appellations that designate him as a Tamil superstar.
But beyond the celluloid hagiography there is an engrossing family potboiler ensconced in the narrative. Nothing that we have not already seen. But I was quite taken up with the way the screenplay written by director Vamshi Paidipally along with with Hari and Ashishor Solomon, rejuvenates a trite and tested formula of a family that stays together rises from the ashes, together curls and uncurls through a maze of neatly assembled episodes.
Yes, frequently the plot tends to get too hacked to handle. The characters are all predictably positioned for poison or reform, depending on which side of the business empire they are on.
The basic idea of a business tycoon and his three sons, one of whom the arrogant patriarch has banished from his empire for not being a yes-man,is taken from Shakespeare’s King Lear.
Vijay plays Shakespeare’s Cordelia with an arresting swag. He is at once the rebellious and devoted son. While this son never sets his feet on his father’s empire, the other two sons are gradually eroding their family business with their greed.
It is time to set the situation right.
Vijay’s knuckle-with-a-chuckle act is diverting in parts. He knows his audience and how to keep it happy. The director too taps into his traditional viewership emerging with interesting episodes in the family saga.
I especially liked R Sarathkumar as the misguided patriarch who soon comes to terms with the harsh truth about his seemingly perfect empire. The film is beautifully mounted. Karthik Palani’s cinematography gives the film a picture-postcard look especially when Vijay is with his screen mother, the lovely Jayasudha. The two don’t look anything like son and mom. That is okay.
The film moves ahead with its lofty family values not with the intention of staying authentic to the Great India Family’s value system but with the clear purpose of doing what Karan Johar and Sooraj Barjatya did in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Hum Saath Saath Hain, respectively.
Let the affluent family have fun with their crises without feeling guilty for not being poor.
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based journalist. He has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out.
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