Vasantha Mullai Review: Stuck in a loop of mediocrity
This well-shot film needed invested writing
Bobby Simha's Vasantha Mullai gets a promising start. We see Rudhra (Bobby) an IT team lead with rage issues being bombarded with complaints from his office, on his first day off in ages. He tries to sort them out through a call while sitting in a theatre with his wife. To make things worse, he gets constantly disturbed by an impatient viewer from the back. Soon enough, Rudhra loses his cool, leading to a fistfight with the man in the back seat. The sequence is skillfully shot that it places us in the shoes of Rudhra and we too feel anxious along with him. The editing, sound design and cinematography go hand in hand to successfully deliver this experience. But once it ends, a slew of questions pop up. "Why didn't Rudhra head back to his office, especially with the make-or-break situation?", "Why didn't he step out to attend the call, when there isn't anyone stopping him?", "Why didn't he explain his situation to his extremely supportive wife?" Well, the film offers no explanations.
Cast: Bobby Simha, Kashmira Pardeshi, Arya
Director: Ramanan Purushothama
It is clear from the first few minutes that debutant filmmaker Ramanan Purushothama wanted to prepare the audience for a thrill ride that doesn't waste time on logical consistencies. This would seem like a brave move if the surprises worked well, but it misses the mark by a mile as the uninspiring, lacklustre writing butchers the film. The initial intrigue gets watered down soon after.
With a wafer-thin plot and just a handful of characters, Vasantha Mullai needed a taut, refreshing screenplay. But the film miserably fails in the area and ends up being an underwhelming rehash of several Hollywood slasher flicks.
The sincere efforts of the cinematographer Gopi Amarnath, editor Vivek Harshan and composer Rajesh Murugesan to make the scenes engaging are undone completely by the not-so-sensible protagonist, who acts out of impulse and fails to read the room most of the time.
Vasantha Mullai goes on to break the prime rule of slasher flicks by revealing the identity of the killer without much strain. If you had followed the promotions of the film, you know that it is played by Arya. Concealing the identity of the killer could have added a bit more intrigue, but here filmmaker Ramanan shows no restraint.
In a way, Vasantha Mullai can be called a time loop film. Though it sounded like an interesting idea, the film loses its fizz because of the lack of innovation in the iterations and the silly characters who learn nothing from what went wrong.
It's a harsh reality that Bobby Simha, the national award winner is also a very limited performer and Vasantha Mullai is a clear reminder of it. Though the character demands the actor to deliver a wide range of emotions, Bobby Simha just looks perennially annoyed. Kashmira Paradeshi's Nita is a typical damsel in distress and I really wish our filmmakers make our heroines at least pelt a few stones at the perpetrators without making them wait helplessly for the male saviour. Though the actor displays earnestness to deliver a memorable performance, the character hardly gives her the space for it.
The film ends with an overlong discussion stressing the importance of sleep. Sarath Babu, who plays the doctor, keeps repeating that he has tried everything impossible, but is unable to make Rudhran fall asleep. Having sat awake through this patience-testing thriller, I can say with assurance that he hasn't tried the most effective method.