Bheemante Vazhi Movie Review: Lighthearted drama elevated by some clever moments
It's refreshing to see Chemban Vinod Jose back with a script that doesn't pack as much aggression as in Angamaly Diaries
At a crucial point in Bheemante Vazhi, when the involvement of an 'upright' member in the community is required to clear up a certain hurdle, nobody mentions Bheeman (Kunchacko Boban). Some assume he is one, but when the film establishes early on that he isn't, through subtle visual cues and body language, we expect another name to be called instead. Kunchacko Boban returns to romance after a while, but not in a way that you expect. For someone named Bheeman, he behaves like a Krishna amidst his gopikas. There are implications of him sharing a 'history' with several women of his age group in his neighbourhood. He is a small-town man who is seemingly more attuned to big-town sensibilities. He is wary of emotional commitment. He prefers the 'sports' part of an affair more.
Director: Ashraf Hamza
Cast: Kunchacko Boban, Jinu Joseph, Chemban Vinod Jose, Suraj Venjaramoodu
It's refreshing to see Chemban Vinod Jose back with a script that doesn't pack as much aggression as his debut writing effort Angamaly Diaries. It's not entirely free of aggressive characters, though. Most of the heavy lifting in that department is done by actor Jinu Joseph, as Kosthep, an unscrupulous achayan. It's rare for a woman to escape his radar. He is also too attached to his land. When the necessity arises to widen the narrow lane that binds a row of houses, Kosthep first agrees to be accomodating but later changes his tune leading to much confusion and name-calling.
It's also refreshing to see Chemban return with a script that makes enough space for its female characters to shine. We are introduced to a group of strong-willed women -- a councillor, a lawyer, a Kannada railway engineer, and a judo instructor -- who live life on their own terms. Interestingly, the women here are relatively better at moving on than the men they interact with. Bheeman, despite his 'no strings attached' approach to relationships, often find himself doubting his true intentions. Some of my favourite moments in the film involve Bheeman and the Kannada engineer. I loved how a crucial moment in their relationship is shot and lit. Suffice to say that cinematographer Gireesh Gangadharan (Angamaly Diaries, Jallikattu) does something ingenious that makes the job of social media trolls difficult.
At times Bheemante Vazhi feels like pieces of several movies stringed together. Or, to be more precise, the inclusion of some of its secondary characters seem like an afterthought so that Bheeman wouldn't look alone. Because other than 'helping' the protagonist do something, they don't have any distinct qualities to speak of. Sometimes they suddenly begin acting weird because they don't have anything else to do.
Take Binu Pappu's autorickshaw driver character, for example. Aside from a couple of places where his services are essential -- scenes where the actor's comical abilities evoke his father, the great Kuthiravattom Pappu -- he is usually found in the background doing something strange. Even Chemban Vinod Jose has a part, but he too prefers to be low-key. Now, this writing choice would have been perfectly okay had it not been for his attempt to make us believe at one point that he is about to do something so important, which he does, but we don't see any further development. He is sometimes a 'shrink' to Bheeman, but it's not a significant contribution. He simply seems to exist to validate the audience's guesses on what Bheeman is thinking.
When the 'upright' person finally shows up, he has the face of Suraj Venjaramoodu. The actor makes the best use of his short screentime to mine humour out of a particularly embarrassing situation and another where he earns Bheeman's admiration after he turns the tables on his opponents.
The film makes up for whatever shortcomings it has in the few highs accompanying the second and third acts. Director Ashraf Hamza and Gireesh Gangadharan employ some inventive visual staging to evoke laughs in a few places, especially the clap-worthy finale that leaves the audience in splits. People get what they deserve, and everyone lives happily ever after. I'm not sure I would revisit the film because it has the nature of one of those cartoon strips in a magazine that leaves you mildly amused before you move on to the next.