Onto the final release of the weekend and I just finished watching the new Malayalam film Vaashi streaming on Netflix and starring Tovino Thomas and Keerthy Suresh. I usually would not have stretched that extra mile but this is a Malayalam film and you do know my love for them by now. Also, I was really looking forward to watching Tovino Thomas again, in a span of two weeks. While reading about the films, I got to know that the film is about two lawyers who are husband and wife, pitted against one another. I have a few friends who have been telling me to never marry a person who is having the same profession as you. This for me did not really make sense as I was of the opinion that you would in general have a lot of things in common! Until now after watching the film that I think, yes they may well have a point! But that said, does Vaashi manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Vaashi follows the story of a couple who are lawyers and have to deal with some personal issues after they are pitted up against each other in a court case. The story is interesting from the face of it and it had ingredients to make for a compelling watch. The screenplay at just a shade above 2 hours is about the right duration of the film as it ensures that the proceedings do not drag.
The screenplay to my surprise opens on a very light note where you are introduced to the two protagonists in a tone which is frothy and not too melodramatic. The entire sequence reminded me of Band Baaja Baarat but in a setup of lawyers and the court. Right from seeking an office to work in, the premise opened as a Rom-Com which was breezy and frothy. I felt this bit was crucial in setting up their relationship which in the hindsight was a good foundation for things to follow.
Soon, the conflict is introduced and you can almost tell the gradual tonal shift of the drama from being borderline frivolous to something substantial. The conflict is interesting and it does make you curious about the things to follow. In between, there are subplots involving the the cultural exchanges between the two families of the couple(they are from different religions in the film) which adds an interesting dimension to the drama. But I somehow felt that the grip in the narrative does loosen a bit in the second hour, although the drama is consistently watchable.
By the time the second hour begins, there is a tonal shift to being mildly dramatic to a full blown melodrama. There are two tracks which go hand in hand – one of the case which the couple are fighting and the other their own personal issues. The drama is consistently watchable and thankfully there are no train wrecks but the writing remains middling during this period. I wish they could have gone deeper into the court case as the issue being dealt with was really relevant. I liked how the accussed(being a boy) was defended by the character of Keerthy and vice versa for the victim and the character of Tovino. Now, I did not agree wholeheartedly by the verdict being passed but there was a passing justification right at the end which was satisfactory. The final act never rose up to the occasion but then it didn’t lose any height as well. Overall, a well written screenplay although the writing remained on the surface.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are pretty well penned although a touch melodramatic. Maybe, a more subtle approach would have been handy. The music is pretty good here and the songs do not stall the drama and instead they carry the narrative forward. The BGM is pretty interesting as well. Director Vishnu Raghav does a good job in what turned out to be a safe bet. Maybe he could have taken a little more risk in the drama and perhaps raised stakes further but the direction in no way was bad. In fact it was pretty good.
The performances are really good. Rony David as Jose has his moments to shine. Anu Mohan as Gautham is endearing, a quality which will keep the audience guessing on his judgement bit. Anagha Narayanan as Anusha is absolutely first rate and she does a commendable job. Keerthy Suresh as Madhavi has a bit of a layered role where she does get scope to internalize and she does a brilliant job. Also her disarming smile will make your heart melt. Tovino Thomas as Ebi has such a towering presence in what was another feather in his cap as a performer. She has this easy charm which is able to penetrate through the screens, making him a very affable character. But there is this calmness in his performance which is consistent throughout wherein he does well to anchor the drama. He was brilliant in the film.
Vaashi comprises of solid performances which makes for a compelling watch. Available on Netflix.