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Vargam Review :
Prithviraj arrives with 'Vargam'
By Paresh C. Palicha, Indo-Asian News Service
Film: "Vargam"; Cast: Prithviraj, Renuka Menon, Vijaya Raghavan, Devan and Rajan P. Dev; Director: M. Padmakumar; Producer: Malayalam Movie Makers; Music Director: Thej
Prithviraj arrives at last with "Vargam". He has been a newcomer for far too long but should be able to drop the tag with this film, directed by M. Padmakumar, which he carries on his shoulders with aplomb.
The story revolves around Solomon Joseph (Prithviraj), a corrupt cop. He makes money, leads a lonely but merry life, taking on the bigwigs who are not in his good books.
One such big shot is Ummachan (Devan) with big political ambitions. His competitor Vavachan (Vijaya Raghavan) is Solomon's benefactor and the tussle between them is prolonged and turns into a fight for one-upmanship.
Prithviraj's performance is a revelation and the audiences remain glued to their seats. The proceedings take a break when Solomon gets a punishment transfer for mistakenly killing Ummachan's younger sibling Dennis in the lockup.
The next part of the story takes place in the dry surroundings of Kasaragod. From here on, the film drags.
In Kasaragod also Solomon does not leave his old ways and befriends the local bigwig and smuggler Arakkal Aboobakar Haji (Captain Raju).
Generally, cop films are city-centric but the backdrop of this film is rural and the camera races through Idukki to Kasaragod and captures the terrain of marijuana cultivation and smuggling.
After a sequence of events Solomon faces a life-threatening situation that leads him to his redemption. However, the film ends with a contrived climax.
Technically, "Vargam" is notches above recent flicks. The camerawork by youngster Shamdat is engrossing.
Padmakumar, who has been director Ranjith's associate for eons, does not totally break free from his mentor's school of filmmaking. The influence is evident in the dialogues and the non-judgemental approach to characterisation.
But, given that, he shows a lot of potential in his second directorial venture after "Ammakkilikoodu", which was scripted and produced by Ranjith.
"Vargam" is a character-driven film, hugely depending on the protagonist. Though the rest of the cast seem to be sidelined, some still stand out.
The most prominent among them is Rajan P. Dev in the role of a priest. He deserves a special mention. Devan and Vijaya Raghavan pass muster.
Renuka Menon, the female lead who has long been ignored by the industry after her stunning debut in "Nammal", makes a comeback as a stoic woman who becomes the reason for our hero's turnaround. But we feel that she deserved something more.
I had planned 'Vargam' to be about a soldier: director
By Paresh C. Palicha, Indo-Asian News Service
Kochi, March 26 (IANS) Malayalam director M. Padmakumar says he had initially planned a film about a soldier instead of a corrupt police officer for his latest hit "Vargam".
"When you are scripting a story, you start with an idea but may have to drop it when you find stumbling blocks in the narrative," said Padmakumar.
"Vargam", a slick action-packed family entertainer, has received acclaim for Prithviraj's performance as the corrupt cop. The director said he was confident about the character as the Malayalam audience had always accepted leading actors in negative roles.
Was it difficult to convince Prithviraj?
"No, no, he was more confident than me. He was involved in the project from the very beginning. Sometimes, he used to encourage me also," Padmakumar told IANS.
Padmakumar's first directorial venture "Ammakillikoodu", starring Prithviraj, was scripted by director Ranjith, with whom he had worked as an associate.
He had assisted Ranjith in a couple of his films after "Ammakillikoodu".
The influence of Ranjith is visible in "Vargam" too. Padmakumar acknowledges this, saying Ranjith had read the script at various stages and made suggestions, which were incorporated in the film.
The 38-year-old director has assisted other stalwarts of the Malayalam industry including Hariharan, I.V. Sasi and Shaji Kailas. Some well known filmmakers who saw the film have praised his efforts. The feed back from the audience has been positive.
"Only a couple of people from film fraternity have bluntly said that it fell short of their expectations. But I feel it is okay," he said with a smile.
The director said he is happy with the final outcome of the film and the response from the audience.
He promised to cast Prithviraj in his next venture too.