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Times of India
: An adaptation of Macbeth and a ballad of North Malabar, Veeram tells the story of legendary folktale anti-hero Chandu Chekavar, his valiant acts, the women in his life and the betrayal that haunts him till his end.
: Director Jayaraj’s fifth instalment in the Navarasa series has him taking on a new spin on the North Malabar ballad of warrior Chandu and the acts in his life that make him rise to the top of the ranks as the chieftain before guilt and paranoia hauls him down.
While the story of Chandu Chekavar and his betrayal is familiar to most Malayalis, the director draws parallels to William Shakespeare’s Macbeth in his latest venture.
From the onset of the film, the director doesn’t delve too much on Chandu’s (Kunal Kapoor) past, instead he chooses to show his valour as a warrior through a stunning duel sequence. On his way back victorious, Chandu and his trusted aide Kelu visit a black magician who predicts that Chandu would soon rise to the ranks of a commander and then go on to become the overlord.
The first prophecy is soon realised, sowing seeds of ambition in Chandu’s mind as to how soon the second would come true. Soon, duel between two kingdom’s break out – one led by Chandu’s overlord and relative Aromal while another by his ladylove Kuttimani’s (Divinaa Thackur) family. Chandu’s mind is soon poisoned by Kuttimani to betray Aromal, and the guilt and paranoia that accompanies such an act haunts him till the end of his days.
Kunal Kapoor as Chandu packs quite an impactful performance, especially as a dour-faced warrior in the first half and a paranoid overlord in the next. He is grace personified before the betrayal and after that Kunal performs exceptionally as an unhinged Chandu. Divinaa Thackur as the scheming and remorseless Kuttimani, who ultimately loses her mind, complements Kunal’s character well. Other characters such as Unniyarcha played by Himarsha Venkatasamy and Aromal by Shivajith Nambiar too do justice to their roles.
The major credit for the movie surely goes to the technical crew – especially the CGI, sound, costume and art departments. The filmmaker had made it clear even before the movie’s release that the onus was on the technical department of the film rather than the cast. The backdrop of the duels and forts are splendidly rendered with special effects and the locations of Ajantha and Ellora caves add to the splendour of the movie.
The film’s dialogues are in the North Malabar slang and the movie itself is rooted in the area’s tradition with Jayaraj using Kalaripayattu, Theyyam and the oracles as elements while adapting Macbeth.
Where the movie suffers though is the lack of an engrossing and engaging screenplay, which is much required while telling a familiar story to a Malayali audience. While care has been placed on making the movie just 144-minute long, it is not gripping enough. However, there are some epic moments in the duels in the film that will remind many of the Hollywood film 300. And for a Malayalam movie to accomplish that is no mean feat.
Rich myriad hues of color swamp senses, would have been totally engulfed and immersed had the emoting been as rich and convincing . Though not as taut as it should have been given that the story is age old with no twist or different perspective to enliven interest, you remain glued to the seat by the sheer visual orgy of colors. For people who don''t know the story, they will drown in this lush sensuous violent tale.