Review: Vaaranam Aayiram – My daddy, my hero

Fathers always get a raw deal when it comes to their sons. Strange but true, for most sons are always closer to their moms. Well it actually makes sense, when your daddy is all mad at you for breaking the flower pot with your bat, who do you run to? Whether they like it or not, fathers always have had to don the role of a stern patriarch, to instill discipline into their wayward sons. Whether it has been breaking windows, denting cars, stealing mangoes or stuffing our pockets with dried pickle on the terrace, our fathers have always been there to reprimand us. We’ve watch them shave every morning, dress up for work in those strapping full shirts, zoom away in the car/bike. We’ve all tried lathering up, or trying one of those over-sized shirts in front of the dressing table! We still remember the whiff of Old Spice in the air every morning our dad’s woke us up, or the gleam of the cuff links from the corner of our sleepy eyes. All said and done, fathers don’t get the same treatment when compared to mothers! Gautam Vasudev Menon tries to play with that bond in his latest flick Vaaranam Aayiram, which is a tribute to all fathers around the world.

It’s hard to write something about the movie without giving away the details pf the plot. A lot has already been written and there are a lot of spoilers already floating around the internet. Without adding to the existing confusion let us just try to look at the way it has been handled. If you didn’t know it earlier then let me tell you that Vaaranam Aayiram
the journey
of a man
Vaaranam Aayiram is the journey of a man from chasing his college sweetheart, to fathering a son and being his inspiration, to be distraught at being unable to read his grandson a bed-time story, to finally passing away with his wife by his side. Vaaranam Aayiram is the touching tale of a father who asks his son to fight back, when he is slapped by someone as a teenager, or telling him that he is on his own once he joins Engg college. The same father tells his son to never let go of his love and the same father pins him to the ground following a drug overdose. The father who sends his son away hoping that he will return a changed man, also convinces his wife to let his son live his dream of joining the armed forces at the IMA in Dehradun. The father who is cool about his sons female friends and even invites them home is also the same father who sits with his sons friends and even does a small jig at a birthday party. The father who bears the taunts of the loan-shark also walks up the stairs to wish his son good luck on his mission, unknowingly that it would be for the last time.

The movie belongs to Surya all the way, from start to finish.The guy is brilliant and this beats the biggest dud of the summer, ‘Dasavataaram‘ hands down. Kamal played ten roles for the heck of it and just to satiate his overblown ego. Here Surya plays almost nine roles with finesse and each of them was warranted by the script! They aren’t roles per say, but various facets of the same man through the ages. He starts of as a college-goer in the 70’s wooing Simran and the slowly graduates to a father with a handlebar mustache. From the father of a teenager with wizened spectacles to worried lines on the forehead of the father of a raging drug addict. He carries of the receding hairline as a grandfather and also the deep eyes and a french beard of a tired suffering man! The other Surya(dual role duh!) complete the other facets right from a XIIth std punk hair style to moon-walking like MJ and Arnold‘s posters. Once he joins college he dons a lover boy look with guitar strapped to his shoulders, and an beard and cold eyes as he fights the pain of separation. The beard grows grisly and the locks grow longer as he befriends drugs, but that goes away once he joins the armed forces to return as a natty officer.

Simran has probably played the best role of her career and looks convincing as a college-goer in the 70slooks convincing as a college-goer in the 70s with the hair bun and kohl eyes. She also looks natural as a worried mother of a distraught son and looks graceful as she ages brilliantly into a grandmother. Sameera Reddy doesn’t have to say or do anything, but just look pretty and smile. Women in all of Gautam Menon’s previous movie are shown to be successful and Vaaranam Ayiram continues in the same vein. We have a REC,Trichy gold medalist who goes to study at UC,Berkeley. A lot of attention has been paid to detail and real events have been woven around the story like the Oklahoma Bombing. The cutouts in the songs have been true to their times and feature MGR and Kamal movies of that time. Al lot of care has been taken with the costumes as well and the styling has been true to the times right from thick glasses and bell bottoms to large ribbons and pastel colors. Surya’s growing years show Michael Jackson fan-dom and posters of billboard ads of Commando which was a rave at that time. One might notice a generous use of English in the screenplay, but I felt that they were more powerful this way and would looseΒ  their sheen when translated.

In the broader sense this film isn’t about Gautam Menon or Surya and his histrionics. The music is hugely popular on all radio stations and the camerawork is slick. The action sequences are tight and the movie sticks to the screenplay without fluctuating too much. The movie is a celebration of fatherhood, a bond often ignored by the cinema industry in favor of tear-jerkers featuring hapless mothers.Β  I’m sure that every person walking out of the hall was reminded of his/her father at some point of time. It is a touching tale narrated in sorrow and also since most of Gautam Menon’s films begin with a narration by the lead actor. Do watch the movie with your father in a theatre if possible and do let me know how you felt. I couldn’t but then I know mine’s reading this, so the message still goes across. If you’ve never told your father how much you love him then please do for this is a very good time to do so. Thank you daddy for being there and watching me take every step. Thank you for bearing my tantrums and getting me whatever I wanted. Thank you for giving me the best education and never compromising at any stage. Thank you for being my rock of Gibraltar and teaching me how to be mentally tough. Thank you for just being my daddy and if I haven’t told you this before then let me say it again, I love you daddy and I miss you!

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