South Indian cinema, as a habit, is reinventing the classic Indian all-round commercial entertainer with a vengeance, and Varisu (Tamil), which means ‘the heir’, isn’t any different. I watched the dubbed Hindi version, which is 170 minutes long. But was I bored? No. A shade intrigued by their script structuring? Yes. Will the film do well? Yesssssssssss!
Where the South filmmakers are generally scoring high is in rooting and sticking to the time-honored forgotten formula of classic Indian cinema—rooted in our culture and values, adapting to technical progress and with dollops of action, emotions, dance, drama, humor and everything else. Bring back this staple thali in modern form to Hindi cinema and we will see a revival of theatre-friendly cinema here as well!
Welcome then to the Thalapathy Vijay universe. Vijay (also his character’s name here as the film was to be originally titled Thalapathy 66 as it was the superstar’s 66th film!) is the youngest son of the uber-rich Rajendaran (their spelling) family that deals, among other things, in mining. Here, their business rival is the dirty planner Jay Prakash a.k.a. JP (Prakash Raj) and his son, Mukesh (Ganesh Venkatraman).
The Rajendaran family is headed by the autocratic father of that name (R. Sarathkumar), who takes everything about his family for granted. He is cocksure that his three sons, Jai (Srikanth), Ajay (Shaam) and Vijay will continue his legacy, but he will appoint the most deserving among them as his ‘Varisu’ (heir)! However, Vijay, who has been educated abroad on scholarship and has his own ambitions, is disowned when he declares his disinterest in the family business.
Seven years later, his father has found that he is suffering from the last stages of malignancy and when Rajendran’s loyal doctor-friend (Prabhu) informs Vijay about this, he relents and decides to come back to the family fold. But now, his brothers, seeing an additional and unwanted share in the properties and assets, see red. Incredibly, they even try to kill him, but the tables are turned because somewhere along the line, Vijay has also learnt to be some kind of Rambo as a fighter, besides being a dancer who would be the envy of Prabhudheva.
And now, Vijay decides to take his mother (Jayasudha)’s instructions to heart and bring back his errant brothers to the family fold. And neutralize JP’s machinations, besides setting right whatever is wrong with his two brothers and their families.
Family first is the film’s clear motto and message and it is in this context alone that I have a slight issue with the script: it settles the film’s business angle with JP first. And just when you think that the film will quickly conclude now with the errant brothers seeing the light, we get a convoluted series of events—all familiar of course to the seasoned film watcher!—that should have been best shown before the business angle was sorted out. In other words, I would have loved the family issues sorted first and the brothers then combating as one entity on the business front to outwit JP.
But that’s my personal nitpick, which probably is of no value for fans of Vijay who will drive the film’s performance!
Straight off, mention must be made of the terrific cinematography by Karthik Palani, the magnificent if a shade OTT production design by Sunil Babu and Vaishnavi Reddy and the spectacular action by Lakshman Chella, Ram Chella and Dhilip Subbarayan. S. Thaman’s songs must be catchy, but as their Hindi versions do not make a mark thanks to poor lyrics, they lose out for the pan-Indian audience. His background score is alright, though.
I must also mention the extravagant moneys spent on the action (a Bentley, no less, is crushed, unless it is shown by clever VFX!) and the dances: the producers, clearly, must be super-confident about the returns.
The dialogues (Hindi writer not known) are the classic playing-to-the-gallery- and-touching-suceptible-hearts kind, and I rather liked the way Vijay tells JP that the latter’s age prevents him from physically beating up the elder villain.
As for the performances, it is a Vijay vehicle all the way, and he justifies the craze his fans have for him. He does go overboard a bit in his comedy, but guess that’s what his devotees look for Laugh, cry, fight, dance, romance—every department is looked after flawlessly by him.
Rashmika Mandanna is little more than a decorative object here, while Jayasudha exudes a welcome dignity as the harangued mother. R. Sarathkumar as Vijay’s father is alright, though his expressions are limited to almost one-and-a-half, but Prakash Raj as the suave villain in glasses makes an impact despite his sketchy role.
As an entertainer, Varisu works. As a Vijay vehicle, it works even better. The fastidious among the critics can go take a walk.
Goldmine Telefilms, Sri Venkateswara Creations, PVP Pictures & Dil Raju Productions’ Varisu Produced by: Dil Raju, Manish Shah & Sirish Directed by: Vamshi Paidipally Written by: Vamshi Paidipally, Hari, Vivek, Ashishor Solomon & Srinivas Chakravarthi Music: S. Thaman Starring: Thalapathy Vijay, Rashmika Mandanna, R. Sarathkumar, Jayasudha, Prabhu,Prakash Raj, Shaam, Srikanth, S.J. Suryah, Yogi Babu, Sangeetha Krish, Samyuktha Shanmughanathan, Nandini Rai, Ganesh Venkatraman & others