Veerathevan Review: Loud, boorish and nothing new
Four scenes and one slightly interesting character don’t a film make
Tamil cinema, while continuing to take up different genres in telling interesting stories, still falls back upon staples from time to time. Among those is the romance in a casteist stronghold, which usually also is about a crime and at some point, will have a scene that shows hordes of people swinging sickles. I think we should call this our equivalent of a Western.
Think about it. The location of the story is usually an arid, rocky area. In place of shootouts, we have aruvaal massacres. In addition, you usually also have a bunch of youngsters who are into alcohol. One of them will likely be complaining about his love story, which, in turn, is just him usually at a tea stall, pining at a girl for years. And then, the friends will group and help the couple get married. This is pretty much the template upon which such films are built with minor changes to the formula here and there.
Cast: Kaushik, Meenalotchani
In this week’s sole Tamil release, Veerathevan, there are, again, plenty of casteist undercurrents as flavour for the oft-repeated romance. Veerathevan follows an age-old template, and so long as it follows this, the film is a hard watch with all the characters being too loud at all times.
When the film does differ, it begins to show promise. The first 30 minutes has two such scenes. Singam has committed a murder and is chased by Veerathevan. The camerawork during this chase sequence is exemplary in the way that it shifts between a steadicam when it follows the action and a fixed long shot when it just lets the action overflow from outside the rim of the screen into the centre of the frame. A couple of minutes later, there is an aerial shot which shows two characters walking in an agricultural field talking about saving Singam from Veerathevan. As you begin to wonder why this shot is there, the two walk into the field and out of the long grass two dark-shirted individuals, of which one is Singam, rise. It is ingenious in the way the camerawork tricks your eye and mind. The shot continues in the same night sequence and the long grass is circled by people clad in white carrying sickles.
The director’s touch is also evident in two contrasting extended sequences — one of life (marriage) and one of death (funeral procession). The titular character shows promise, given his views on caste and intercaste marriages, but this is utterly and totally wasted with no character growth for him or for any of the other characters.
On the whole, it’s a rather cumbersome watch, because four scenes and one slightly interesting character don’t a film make.