Varisu: Vijay’s endearing charm is comfort food for our minds

Varisu was a welcome surprise. From the trailer, it was clear to all that the film is betting on its sentimentality to win the affection of the audience. And that must have caused many ambivalent feelings about the film. At a time when bigger guns and bigger explosions are promoted as necessary elements for a film to appeal to a larger audience, what do you think about a film that tends to evoke the feelings that are the lifeline of TV soap operas? ?

Of course, there were times when such films enjoyed great success at the box office in Tamil cinema. Suryavamsam, Aanandham, Nattamai and Vaanathaippola to name a few – were popular films of the 1990s and early 2000s. And then Tamil cinema stopped making such cheerful, melodramatic family entertainers. Even Vijay rose to stardom by doing his fair share of melodramas.

So it was understandable why Vijay opted for a family drama as Varisu for the Pongal festival. Not only in Vijay’s career, some of the biggest hits in Dil Raju’s career (Bommarillu, Parugu, Mr. Perfect, Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu to name a few) were from this genre.

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Varisu proved the naysayers wrong by getting so many things right. And one of the biggest reasons is that it used the audience’s preconceived notions to its advantage. Director Vamshi Paidiply and his writers Hari, Ashishor Solomon and lyricist Vivek keep the changing times in mind. They know they can’t make a film with the feel of Vaanathaippolu taking itself too seriously.

The screenwriters of Varis have done a fantastic job of remaking old themes into an enjoyable film. There’s a strong sense of familiarity, but the micro additions to the old lineup add something refreshing and enjoyable. The themes and narrative structure pay tribute to their predecessors in the genre. But the moment we prepare to watch a scene based on our assumptions about what will happen next, thinking we’ve seen it 100 times in the past, we’re surprised.

The name of the game is self-awareness. The film knows that if it takes itself too seriously, the audience will make it an object of ridicule. And Vijay walks a fine line to keep the film’s heavy feelings light and fresh. When Vijay sings the title song of the popular Tamil serial Metti Oli, it instantly puts us at ease. It informs us that the filmmakers have a vision and have the talent and knowledge to achieve it.

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Even blocking scenes is smooth. Take the scene where Vijay and Yogi Babu’s Kicha sit down and watch the drama unfold at the family dining table. While Vijay is sitting on the sofa, Kicha is sitting on the floor. As they start talking, Vijay gets up from the couch and sits next to Kicha. It shows that even though their individual social status separates them, their friendship unites them. The bond between them strikes a chord with us and we enjoy it as Kicha taunts Vijay again and again because that invisible social barrier is removed. Now it’s just two friends engaging in some fun banter.

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There is another shot of Vijay coming down the stairs during an emotional scene. Before we see Vijay, we see his shadow as if he is always watching over the family members like a guardian angel. The boardroom scene where Vijay is on the verge of being expelled from his company is an unmistakable riff on the boardroom scene from Allu Arjun’s blockbuster. Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo. In this scene, Bantu ruins the coup and disrupts the villain’s game with a funny dance to popular songs from movies starring Allu Arjun’s family. In the film’s most meta moment, Vijay generously throws in references to his past blockbusters to pull off a similar coup.

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Vijay elevates the entire film with his sheer charm. He unapologetically plays scene after scene in the gallery. And he keeps reminding us why we love watching him so much. We enjoy his performance the most when he does comedy. Not when you’re delivering punchlines or performing stunts. We adore him when he shows off his fluid dance moves and preaches to us about universally accepted morality. It is not the universally celebrated folk number ‘Ranjithame’ but the grossly underrated duet ‘Jimikki Ponnu’ that steals the show. The song’s production and Vijay and Rashmika Mandanna’s energetic and polished performances leave us wanting more.


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