Naane Varuven movie review: An underwhelming yet dark and intriguing thriller
Selvaraghavan and Dhanush and back together after a decade and this time, they choose yet another dark theme. With a short runtime and clean screenplay, Naane Varuven’s exploration of psychopath is intriguing.
Selvaraghavan and Dhanush have come together after Mayakkam Enna and the brothers in Naane Varuven present a tale of twin siblings. Only, unlike the real-life relationship, the one in their film is filled with danger, trauma, physical and mental abuse. To be honest, films by Selvaraghavan starring Dhanush have always excelled in capturing the dark recesses of a human mind. In Selvaraghavan’s directorial debut Kaadhal Kondein starring Dhanush, they explored the dark side of possessiveness and obsession. In Pudhupettai, the two of them painted the town red by delving deep into the life of a thug. In Mayakkam Enna, the two of them explored the depths of depression. Now, they explore the darkness that could exist in a relationship between siblings.
Research papers suggest that psychopaths show symptoms of their condition as a child. They torture animals and revel in the pain that they cause their pet project. Kathir, in Selvaraghavan-directorial Naane Varuven, is one such psychopath. He lights the skirt of a girl in the neighbourhood on fire and does it purely for cheap thrills. He refuses to apologize for his mistake and holds grudges long enough to exact revenge, and this includes his family members. He stabs his father, locks his twin brother Prabhu in a storage trunk and has no qualms about his actions. Textbook actions of a psychopath really. Unfortunately, his widowed mother decides to abandon him instead of finding a way to treat him, or leave him to the authorities.
What makes Naane Varuven really interesting is how it blends fantasy and science to propel the plot forward. Prabhu grows up into a responsible father, one who continues to be affected by his childhood, but one who doesn’t let his trauma direct his life. There is initially no news from Kathir, on the other hand. It is as if he has disappeared from Prabhu’s life. He only exists in fleeting moments of Prabhu’s flashbacks. Until Prabhu’s daughter returns from a vacation as a changed person. Interestingly enough, the moments in the run-up to this exact moment are light and sweet. It is as if the makers want the audience to get ready for a misfortune to strike Prabhu’s family. The restlessness is apparent, and after Prabhu’s wife mentions how uneasy she had felt in their daughter’s room, the tone of the entire film shifts. It goes from light and vibrant to grey and heavy.
Beyond the mix of fantasy and fiction, however, Naane Varuven is underwhelming at large with some impressive moments interspersed just enough to keep us from getting bored. One of the highlight moments in the film occurs when Kathir, who is settled in Chopta as an adult, shows his true colours to his family. That moment is raw with his family’s fears, his pain at his inability to hide his true self long enough and Kathir’s reminders that he had been abandoned once before. Even as Kathir moves in darkness, their enough light surrounding him to highlight that he had truly become a monster. One that wanted to believe that he deserved a family.
He did not care about imprisoning people in the name of love, and until the very end, he is painted as nothing but a monster. Just as it should be. This also serves as one of the problems in the film. Despite being a psychological thriller, the film moves at a snail pace. Fortunately, the short runtime of 2 hours and 11 minutes, and a clean screenplay ensure that the film doesn’t become too much of a drag.
Overall, Naane Varuven has its moments, and the exploration of Kathir’s character is intriguing As a whole, however, the film needed to be a tad bit more dynamic. Especially the way they arrive at a resolution to the central conflict is just laden with unnecessary weight.
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Naane Varuven is playing in cinemas
Priyanka Sundar is a film journalist who covers films and series of different languages with special focus on identity and gender politics.
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