Villain: An interesting take on the concept of villainy
Mohanlal's latest may not be a thrilling edge-of-the-seat outing, but it takes a different route, one that is enjoyable
To begin with, B Unnikrishnan's Villain isn't the kind of movie where the sole aim of the protagonist is to rough up the antagonist or to rise above the system or even establish a sense of righteousness, just because he happens to be the 'hero'. Rather, it attempts to reinvent the concept of hero and villain. While this may not exactly answer its box office expectations, it does satiate our quest for a different cinematic experience.
Cast: Mohanlal, Vishal, Hansika, Rashi Khanna
Director: B Unnikrishnan
This is achieved through creating a protagonist with a solid sense of virtue, but one who doesn't exactly play to the gallery. Mohanlal's Mathew Manjooran is not cast in your popular hero mould, for he doesn't take the path of vengeance and wreak havoc. Instead, he has another take on the subject. While that may not be what Mohanlal's fans will expect, one should learn to love that point of view too. In fact, Mathew's character is a brilliant construct. An ex-cop who is mourning the death of his wife and daughter, Mathew decides to take voluntary retirement but gets involved in a murder mystery. As he attempts to tie the loose ends together, he finds himself taking on Shaktivel Palaniswamy (Vishal), whose idea of justice (or alternate justice) clashes with his own.
While this cat-and-mouse game goes on, it is the parallel narrative that catches our interest. He may be a cop, but Mathew questions the popular sense of right and wrong. In an elaborate and key sequence involving Shaktivel and Mathew, the director effectively opens up a debate in this regard. While Shaktivel is adamant in his stance on seeking revenge, Mathew's wisdom is above such shallow feelings. He says: "Revenge destroys the one who takes it." This well-scripted sequence ends with Mathew exhorting Shaktivel to find the hero, rather than the villain, in himself.
It is such emotional sequences that work in the favour of Villain. Like an extremely emotional scene between Mathew and his wife Neelima (Manju Warrier) at the hospital. Here, it is the concept of love that takes another meaning altogether.
That Mohanlal is brilliant as Mathew would be an understatement here. His subdued performance lifts the character to another level, communicating volumes with little or no expression. And, it is his charisma that conceals the movie's many flaws, including its cliches. Vishal, meanwhile, puts up an engaging debut, as does Hansika. Manju, as Neelima, has a good chemistry with Mohanlal. The film also benefits from its technical brilliance.
Many might criticise Villain for its slow pace, which is disappointing for a cop story. But, then, when a movie deals with grey areas of life, it is not easy to be taut and steady. However, the real problem is the many times the narrative takes an illogical turn. Like in the portion where Mathew zeroes in on Shaktivel. If only these loopholes had been plugged, Villain would have been a better thriller.
All said, Mohanlal's latest may not be a thrilling edge-of-the-seat outing, but it takes a different route, one that is enjoyable.