Varisu was a pleasant surprise. It was clear to everyone from the trailer that the movie was betting on its sentimentality to win the audience’s affection. And it must have made many feel hesitant about the movie. While big guns and even bigger explosions are touted as indispensable elements of a movie to be clicked on by a larger audience, What Do You Make Of A Movie tends to evoke the emotions that are the lifeblood of TV series. ?
Of course, there was a time when such films enjoyed a lot of clout at the box office in Tamil cinema. Suryavamsam, Aanandham, Nattamai and Vaanathaippola to name a few – were blockbusters from the 90s and early 2000s. Then Tamil cinema stopped presenting feel-good family entertainers. Even Vijay rose to stardom and did his fair share of melodramas.
So it was understandable why Vijay chose a family drama like Varisu for the Pongal Festival. Not only in Vijay’s career, some of the biggest hits in Dil Raju’s career (Pomarillo, Parujo, Mr. Perfect, Sitamma Vakitlu Sirimal Chetto, to name a few) have been as a producer of the genre.
Varisu proved the naysayers wrong by correcting several things. One of the biggest reasons for this is that she used the audience’s preconceived notion to her advantage. Director Vamshi Paidepalli and writers Hari, Aishwar Solomon and lyricist Vivek are all mindful of the changing times. They know they can’t make a movie with Vaanathaippola’s feelings, which takes itself too seriously.
Varisu’s writers have done a great job of rehashing old themes into an enjoyable movie. There is a strong sense of familiarity, but the subtle additions to the vintage setting add something fresh and fun. It owes its narrative themes and structure to its predecessors in the genre. But, the moment we prepare to watch a scene based on our assumptions of what will happen next, thinking we’ve seen it happen 100 times in the past, we get caught off guard.
The name of the game is self-awareness. The movie knows that if it takes itself too seriously, audiences will turn it into an object of ridicule. And Vijay walks a fine line in keeping the heavy emotions in the film light and breezy. When Vijay sings the title song of popular Tamil serial Metti Oli, it instantly puts us at ease. It kind of tells us that the filmmakers have a vision and they have the talent and knowledge to make it happen.
Even blocking scenes, asking. Take the scene where Vijay and Yogi Babu’s Kicha sit down to watch the drama unfold at the family dining table. While Vijay is sitting on the sofa, Kicha is sitting on the floor. When they start talking, Vijay gets off the couch and sits next to Kesha. It shows that although they are divided according to their individual social status, they are united by their friendship. The bond between the two strikes a chord with us and we enjoy it when Kicha makes fun of Vijay over and over again because that invisible social barrier has been taken away. Now, two friends are just engaging in fun banter.
There is another shot of Vijay climbing the ladder during an emotional scene. Before we see Vijay, we see his shadow as if he is always watching over the family members like a guardian angel. The boardroom scene where Vijay is about to vote out of his company is unmistakably a boardroom scene Allo ArjunBig turnout Ala Vaikunthapuramulu. In this scene, Bantu crashes a coup and shakes up the villain’s game by humorously dancing to folk songs from films starring the cast of Allu Arjun’s family. In the film’s most meta moment, Vijay generously makes references to his previous films to thwart a similar coup.
Vijay elevates the entire movie with his sheer charm. He plays unapologetically on the show scene after scene. And it constantly reminds us why we love watching it. We enjoy his performance more when he’s doing comedy. Not while mouthing speeches or performing stunts. We adore him when he performs fluid dance moves and preaches widely accepted morals. It’s not the famous folk number ‘Ranjithame’ but the hugely underrated ‘Jimikki Ponnu’ duet that steals the show. The song production and the energetic and stylish performances by Vijay and Rashmika Mandanna leave us wanting more.