Veppam – The Heated Labyrinth
It’s Interesting to see women directors taking the plunge on dark themed films. Hailing from popular directors’ camps like Mani Ratnam and Gautham Menon, they make films of betrayal, mafia, the underworld, etc. while their predecessors made saccharine films of laughing babies and adults. They had gone no further. Women directors try to break the mould but if dark gritty themes are the only way to show masculinity – one has to rethink.
Veppam is directed by Anjana Ali Khan featuring Karthik (Vishnu), Nani (Karthik), Nithya Menon (Revathy) and Bindu Madhavi (Viji). Despite the simple story, the whodunit angle forms a confusing labyrinth. Veppam is about three friends – Karthik, Nani and Nithya Menon. Two of them (Karthik and Nani) try to smuggle narcotics for Nani’s pimp father. Karthik wants Bindu Madhavi bailed from the clutches of Nani’s pimp father. He can avail this favor only if the drugs are sold. Nani helps Karthik get Bindu Madhavi.
While the pimp father has other plans, what will happen to Karthik and Nani? Muthukumar (Balaji), brother of Nani, tries to save Nani and Karthik. Though he does well, Kishore would have perfectly essayed the role. It feels as though director Anjana had Kishore in her mind while writing the script. The point of view narration, first invented in Akira Kurosawa’s Roshomon, forms a maze that heats up often. Sometimes, we choke, while we also try to find the routes at times.
Veppam interests you in parts only when it heats up but the heat also feels uncomfortable. The climax fight scene shows a hitherto powerful “Ammaji”, the kingpin, take a few stabs so easily. Ammaji (Jennifer) is the most powerful of all, selling narcs, but is too weak to fight. She does not look the least convincing in her role. She looks like a fish vendor but nothing more. The film overall looks Pro-DMK with the villainous character Ammaji and Muthukumar painting M Karunanidhi’s face on the wall by the roadside.
Joshua Sridhar, after a long time, churns out two hits. Songs make it to the plus points. Om Prakash’s cinematography explores the rustic side of life in Chennai and takes some aesthetic relief in Pondicherry. Anthony Gonsalves does well to avoid confusion in the point of view narration. The film is made a little too short. Prabhu’s (dialogues) Chennai slang doesn’t make use of the right slang terms but is replete with muted profanity. Mayan’s art work is probably about choice but the distinction is not too obvious between the real and the fake, much appreciably.
- Joshua Sridhar
- Nithya Menon
- Labyrinthine Narration
- Excessive Violence
Violence can be reduced upon concentration on story. The percentage of violence in Martin Scorsese’s, Francis Ford Coppola’s and Quentin Tarantino’s films is low compared to the entire footage. In other scenes, they exhibit behaviors to establish characters and motivations. In Veppam, the motivations don’t establish like Karthik’s love for Bindu Madhavi, probably due to the point of view narration.
The scenes that establish their relationship come after their relationship ends. Karthik is also not justified in falling in love with Bindu Madhavi. Karthik is the “Kool” dude of marrying a black and a white woman but is not so much “Chennai” about himself. Chennai slang requires a different twist of the tongue. Nani’s and Nithya Menon’s love affair is almost incestuous. Motivations aren’t strong enough nor are they established. Nevertheless, Veppam is a different attempt from a female director who has tried to break the mould. Veppam – Rustic!