Varathan movie review: A cracker of a suspense thriller
Varathan movie cast: Aishwarya Lekshmi, Fahadh Faasil
Varathan movie director: Amal Neerad
Varathan movie rating: 4 stars
“A couple from Dubai move into a seemingly peaceful looking village” – Give this one liner to newcomers Suhas and Sharfu and they will turn it into a gripping screenplay. And then hand that full bound script over to filmmaker Amal Neerad who will give you a cracker of a suspense thriller called Varathan (The Outsider). Varathan will strike a very personal chord with the audience due to the film’s main theme – voyeurism.
A little peek here, a little peek there doesn’t hurt anyone. But, what if constantly watching someone becomes a way of life? And what if it begins to damage the subject physiologically elevating it to the level of torture? Varathan follows the struggles of a young couple Priya (Aishwarya Lekshmi) and Abin (Fahadh Faasil), who are caught up in the web of lusting men.
The movie opens with Abin losing his job in Dubai. And he goes home, only to learn that his wife Priya has suffered a miscarriage. He is stoic but his wife is a resilient character. She pulls herself together and takes her husband out for dinner. Over the course of the meal, Priya pitches the idea of relocating to her native village in Kerala. She hopes that a change of place will help them deal with their personal loss. Abin concedes.
After landing in Kerala, a cab driver watches Priya through the rear view mirror in the car. It makes her uncomfortable, but she handles the situation head on. That moment sets the tone for the film. From then on, cinematographer Littil Swayamp does a solid job of making us privy to the emotional stress that Priya is suffering because of being watched.
Abin’s short physical frame and his kind nature add to our worry about his ability to protect Priya from the villagers who derive satisfaction by making the lives of other people a living hell. In the meantime, we also understand Abin’s dilemma in deciding whether or not to jump the gun. He is a gentle and friendly person who believes you only need to tell other people to not disturb his family and go home feeling safe. His inaction stems mainly from the doubts in his mind. But, Priya (and the audience) mistake it for cowardice.
Writers Suhas and Sharfu keep the tension around Priya’s safety simmering from the point she enters her native village. And when they fully turn up the heat, the violence plays out, leaving us feeling extremely anxious to know the truth. But, the beauty is that the writers never give us the whole incident. Instead, they just give the outline and leave the rest to our imagination. And that’s the main reason why we feel so satisfied and relieved when Abin sticks a butcher knife into the hands of one of his wife’s tormentors. And that satisfaction remains throughout the lengthy action piece in the third act.
The casting of the film is just the icing on the cake. Just the presence of characters played by Sharaf U Dheen, Arjun Ashokan and Vijilesh Karayad near the compound of Priya’s house, sends a chill down our spines. Aishwarya and Fahadh are in top form in this thriller.