Enable Javscript for better performance
Vith Movie Review: Odd and fascinating at once- Cinema express

Vith Movie Review: Odd and fascinating at once

Don Palathara's second film is another welcome exercise in out-of-the-box filmmaking

Published: 09th August 2021
Vith Movie Review: Odd and fascinating at once

After a long wait, one of Don Palathara's earlier films has finally made its way to Indian digital platforms. Vith, which preceded the filmmaker's critically acclaimed 1956, Central Travancore, has been picked up by Mubi India and Mainstream TV app. Those who are only familiar with 1956 and its follow-up, Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam, but not Don's two earlier films (Shavam, Vith), will see a notable evolution in the filmmaker's narrative style. Though Don's films boast of a singular visual sensibility, his storytelling has grown more coherent and accessible with each film. 

Director: Don Palathara

Cast: Pradeep Kumar, Jain Syriac Babu, Jay Kish

Streaming on: Mubi, Mainstream TV 

The opening portion of Vith has the energy of a ritual, making us experience the mundane activities of its central characters belonging to a Christian milieu, most notably a middle-aged man who unexpectedly finds his seemingly employed (or college-going?) son back home telling him he is not interested in going back. The father doesn't react as most Indian fathers would. You are not bombarded with an intense confrontation. This is not that kind of film. It expects us to fill in the blanks -- in more than one place -- after showing us a certain reaction, albeit a subtle one. The father is seemingly a patient man, judging by how he performs his daily duties: morning prayer, working in the fields, preparing cattle food and then feeding it to them, preparing his own food and feeding himself while enjoying a television soap, and so on. Those lacking the patience for an austere and languid filmmaking approach might start pondering the significance of it all. Some might ask why some shots seem to go on forever. You might find the answer if you're willing to stick till the ending. However, don't expect the film to clear all your doubts. 

When the man's son enters the picture, you see that the latter is not as disciplined as his father. And once the son gets his hands on a mobile phone, there is a breakdown of communication. One gets a sense that somewhere down the line, someone is going to do something harsh. While the father engages in every monotonous task as though he enjoys it immensely, the son's lethargic behaviour annoys the former. (By the way, any man who finds household chores boring might find inspiration in the former.) The son's disposition is at times evocative of Ganesh's character from Irakal, but Vith is neither trying to be that film nor Joji. (One will find moments in Vith that films such as Joji or The Great Indian Kitchen did much later.) There is an act of violence, but the victim is an animal. Though it takes place offscreen, it's a haunting moment, nevertheless. It's just one of the moments in the film for which there is no explanation. 

The tone of its closing moments is diametrically opposite to that established in the beginning. Some might find this sudden shift jarring. Perhaps that is the intention -- heightening the impact of its chaotic moments by imparting a strong sense of serenity to the preceding circumstances. I have to admit, though, that I was not completely sold on the way things concluded. The finale feels like a weirdly put together mosaic with some pieces missing. This could be deliberate. For example, a scuffle between two characters is stitched together in a way that makes it appear as though it is happening in reality and a character's imagination at the same time. I'm assuming it's the latter. Perhaps the film would make more sense on repeat viewings. That said, it's an experiment worth a gander, minor oddities notwithstanding. If anything, it might compel aspiring filmmakers to think outside the box instead of following a rigid pattern.

Related Articles


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.


How many times did you watch KGF: Chapter 2?

4 or more