Prolific Telugu director Krish comes to Tamil bringing with him his critically acclaimed Vedam as Vaanam with an ensemble cast of STR (Silambarasan), Bharath, Anushka, Vega, Saranya, Prakash Raj and others. Vedam had given Krish an admirable name to reckon with in the Telugu industry and for his debut in Tamil, the director has chosen the same premise which explored the various layers of human emotions, adhering largely to the original.
Vaanam follows a multi narrative format, which is fairly new to Tamil cinema. The product is about how the lives of five completely unrelated individuals from different places converge at one point cascading in a transformation of their persona and the ensuing corollary. The refreshing factor about Vaanam is it has eschewed the standard DNA of commercial flicks and Krish’s authority on the narrative comes to the fore with this delectably mounted product that tugs at your heart strings.
The characters in Vaanam are very ordinary, relatable mortals with their respective grey shades. Krish has not attempted to aggrandize them and they stand before you immaculately unornamented with their blemishes. STR as cable Raju, Bharath the rock star, Anushka the commercial sex worker, Saranya the helpless mom of an abducted son and Prakash Raj on the look out for his lost brother are the axles around which Vaanam hinges.
The screenplay is intelligently woven around these characters and Krish builds his narration in a neat pattern not losing steam or our attention anywhere. Although dialogues by Giri provide a significant value, it dazzles when Anushka insulted by policeman Radha Ravi says “we sell our souls unrobed but you guys do that with all your robes on” (naanga thuni avuthu velai porom, neenga thuniyoda velai poreenga) or when she jocularly says that while for other jobs, experience is a big plus but in flesh trade, it is just the reverse. Giri’s caliber as an effective dialogue writer is revealed when STR in a choked voice states that truth needs courage and lies do not. And mind you, Vaanam is replete with such gems.
All the artists have performed well and have equal screen presence. But the finest moments, of course, belong primarily to STR who reiterates that at the hands of a good script and a director, he can walk away with all the acting honors. The testimony to this is the scene when he snatches the money bag from Saranya and the vicissitude of emotions that play on his face that toggles between greed and conscience. And the scene at the police station when Anushka wonders if his love was true, the profound expression on his face is noteworthy.
Anushka, the foul mouthed sex worker oozing oodles of oomph meets the sensual demands of her character but sans vulgarity brings tears while pleading to the doctor to save her friend saying that she is ready to sleep with him innumerable times. Bharath delivers a subdued performance and Prakash Raj is his usual best. While Vega, Soniya and Jasmine are adequate, Saranya, Santhanam and VTV Ganesh have delivered a natural and neat portrayal. The scenes with VTV Ganesh are enjoyable and when he talks about standing in front of director Shankar’s house with Rahman as company is hilarious. Santhanam as STR’s friend is his perfect humorous foil. Anushka’s transgender friend Karpuram and Saranya’s father-in-law are impressive.
Under Yuvan Shankar Raja’s music, the opening song ‘Who am I’ showcases Bharath’s dancing skills which is youthful and peppy. The latest youth anthem ‘Evandi Onna Pethan’ is well picturized and STR’s adeptness with his feet and Nirav Shah’s brilliant camera work in the number are noticeable. Although ‘No money no honey’ is enjoyable, it does not add value to the film’s progress in any way.
Nirav Shah’s cinematography is appreciable and the angles and lighting sensibilities up the production value of the film. The different type of lighting at the lodge is just an example. With his tight frame composition, Editor Anthony is impressive.
Even though Vaanam is alluring in most aspects and travels linearly on the attempted track, the cinematic feel of the climax is a placid wart. The track ‘No money no honey’ is apparently forced and brings down the tempo of the film.
Director Krish makes his impactful debut with a different narrative format that holds the attention of the audience. Vaanam is succulent with diverse complex human emotions from deceit to greed to rage to remorse. The film has a plot that can find patrons among wider variety of audience as the theme of humanity is much a catholic one that transcends barriers.
Verdict: An intelligent fare with substance