Review: 'Varisu' caters to Thalapathy Vijay's fan service but at the cost of being a jaded 90s film
To be sitting through a Thalapathy Vijay film lately has become a roller-coaster ride in its most metaphorical manner. There are highs, there are lows but mostly the overall ride becomes lesser and lesser exciting if going on for too long.
To be sitting through a Thalapathy Vijay film lately has become a roller-coaster ride in its most metaphorical manner. There are highs, there are lows but mostly the overall ride becomes lesser and lesser exciting if going on for too long. After a rather underwhelming Beast last year, Thalapathy Vijay goes old school with his latest, Varisu. Having had the chance to see the film before hand, here is what I thought of it-
The Excruciating Length
It isn't that we have lost the appetite for films with long duration but the feature has to be worth it. Varisu is anything but. Clocking a painstakingly long 2 hours 50 minutes, the film absolutely tests your patience throughout its runtime. The sequences, especially in the first half keep getting worse and worse and ultimately the whole product is an overstuffed and inept mess. The songs come and go at will and while at times they actually help with the boring sequence going on but in no time, it gets overdone to a large extent. A formulaic story being made into an almost 3 hour film is never a good choice.
The Fan Service
The one thing that filmmakers in the South and Thalapathy Vijay himself understands and caters to - is fan service. The endless slo-mo entry shots, action with swagger, foot-tapping numbers are all what the loyal fans sign up for when they are doing to watch his film. And that is delivered as well as it can be done. What is interesting though here is that Vijay was rather experimental with last few projects in the form of Bigil, Master and Beast but with Varisu, he goes old-school 90s again - the time that made him a superstar among the masses. While that's a good thing indeed, the limitation it brings playing a 90s hero in 2023 is too obvious to be missed.
Where is Rashmika Mandanna and Where is Novelty?
The age-old problem of having female leads for the absolute sake of it continues and with Varisu in fact, it almost seems more problematic. Rashmika Mandanna is actually one of the most popular actors currently and also possesses acting chops but for some reason, Varisu decides to limit her in inane ways where she is barely even there. Her total screentime in the two songs she is a part of is collectively more than her overall character. It is a pity to see this.
And apart from that, it also doesn't help that the story is as archaic as it can get. Don't get me wrong. The whole Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Ghum-meets-Baghban-meets-Ala Vaikunthapuramaloo vibe does have its moments of drama and engagement. But the sheer predictability of the plot and everything else is boring that the experience only deteriorates further and further.
Mediocre Humor Saves the Day
Vijay is blessed with a goofiness while exhibiting his usual swagger and that is at full display here. Even as he mouths weird one-liners and does over-the-top antics, his charm somehow sells it and you are invested in it. The scenes of humor which include his moments with Yogi Babu and the one office sequence is actually rather foolish but it works and you are chuckling because that is the moment of respite you are looking for from the other banal sequences going on. The moment when there actors randomly break into Vaathi Coming dance step was the highlight I was hooked on to.
Varisu is in no way a Thalapathy Vijay film that shouldn't be missed but if you are an ardent fan of the superstar, this or any other review isn't going to stop you from watching it, and so you shouldn't. Sit back and suspend your disbelief immensely because you're going to be needing to do that a lot.
Rating - ** (2/5)