Vadhandhi: The Fable of Velonie
The new releases aren’t slowing down and neither are we! With that I finished watching the new Tamil series Vadhandhi – The Fable Of Velonie on Amazon Prime. While the film industries from the South are ruling the roosts as far as films are concerned, the web space has still not transpired into a manic success. I had mentioned the same point in my review of the Tamil series Suzhal that this may be a start of something new. And I wasn’t entirely wrong although the progress made is slow but steady.
I haven’t been able to watch every series out there considering the time investment that goes in. So I usually read the synopsis or the makers names involved before committing myself for a particular series, particularly from down south. And so when the series Vadhandhi was announced on a “Big” OTT platform like Amazon Prime, it had my attention. However, considering the load of the new releases, I wasn’t sure if I will get to it. But then I happened to check that Pushkar and Gayatri, the minds behind brilliant works like Vikram Vedha(both Tamil and Hindi) and Suzhal are the creative producers here, and I was absolutely sold. I just had to watch the series. Finally, I got my chance last night and now that I have finished watching Vadhandhi on Amazon Prime, here are my two cents on it.
Story & Screenplay
Vadhandhi follows the story of a murder investigation taking place lead by a cop who will go to any extent in cracking the case. The story has all the tropes of a gripping whodunnit. The screenplay standing at 8 episodes of roughly 50 odd minutes each did seem slightly long, although it makes for a captivating watch.
The drama opens with an absolute bang, slowly setting the tone of the drama with a voiceover and wasting no time in getting to the point straight up. So within the first 10 minutes, the police retrieve a body of an unidentified girl that sets off a string of assumptions on who the girl is. The drama is a slow burner and takes its time to unfold. If you are expecting a Suzhal type “thrilling” drama, then this isn’t the one for you. The leisurely paced screenplay does play on the mystery element well but not on the thrill element. The investigation that is carried out is quite interesting and engrossing.
The proceedings are cerebral and extremely convoluted. There is something happening onscreen at any given moment of time with the attention given to the detailing. Having said that, you need to be extremely focused as not only do you stand a chance of missing out on a few details but also because the narrative style is non-linear, almost focusing on a few events as a foreshadow with a jumbling timeline. It is so convoluted that this will feel like a giant jigsaw puzzle filled with multiple twists and turns. In between, there is also an angle of social commentary that the series has to offer in terms of toxic parenting or respecting women in general.
There are so many subplots within subplots here that at times it does become slightly difficult to focus. But that is not the problem. The problem is that a few subplots were just not needed and it doesn’t exactly tie up to the main plot or at the end. The politics of the area and the role of the media are the slight weaklings of the screenplay that did create a bit of a lag in an otherwise cerebral drama. But thankfully, the writers feed you with a twist every now and then that becomes virtually impossible to play the guessing game. With each turn you are invested, leading up to a spectacular final act that had me off guard. The reason was a string of twists and turns at the end that did make my jaw drop. The message at the end is also a good one. So overall, the screenplay is really well written and something that you will enjoy if slow burns are your poison!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are sharp and well written, the Hindi dubbing is great as well. The BGM is spectacular and bolsters the drama at so many places with a resounding sound. The cinematography is excellent and captures the scenic locations of Tamil Nadu beautifully. The colour grading has surprisingly bold colours which was a refreshing change from the grim colouring that we are used to in such dramas. The editing is sharp and one of the unsung heroes of the series. Director Andrew Louis does a sparkling job in almost teasing the audience into playing the guessing game right throughout. But at no point does he take the intelligence of the audience for granted. And so the drama is consistently engrossing and engaging for which the director deserves distinction marks.
The performances are really good by all the actors. Smruthi Venkat as Anandhi has her moments to shine but in a limited capacity owing to a limited screen time. Aruvi Balaji as Alex is sincere. Kumaran Thangarajan as Vignesh is first rate as are Vaibhav Murugesan as Jones Vikky Aadithya as Sunny, Ashwin Kumar as Santhosh and Avinash Raghudevan as Sanjeev. Vivek Prasanna as Ramar contributes well to some of the lighter moments.
Laila as Ruby is excellent in a complex and layered role. Nasser is always a pleasure to watch and he does a fine job here as KI Sebastian. Sanjana as Velonie is probably the find of the series for me. Not only does she look pretty but she does a brilliant job right throughout the show. She has a terrific screen presence and I really wish to watch more of her work going forward. SJ Suryah as Vivek is in top form, right from his mannerisms to his internal turmoil. He has many emotions to play with and he nails every one of it in a memorable outing.
Vadhandhi is a twisted murder mystery that will keep you guessing till the very end. Available on Amazon Prime.