A host of talented actors, an interesting plot and a 90s setting: This had the potential to be a good entertainer only if it was written, directed and edited well.
Varthakal Ithuvare is set in the 90s precisely the year 1990 in a village in Kollam. The story surrounds a police station headed by SI Ittan (Nedumudy Venu), head constable Pilla (Alencier) along with constables Vinayan (Siju Wilson), Mathews (Vinay Forrt) and Habib (Saiju Kurup). Nothing much happens here except for petty thefts by local thief Kumaran (Mamukoya) or skirmishes caused by the loud-mouth Chakkappan (Nandu) and his nemesis Iththak (Sunil Sugadha).
Vinayan is talented but he is under-appreciated by Ittan who is partial to the opportunist Mathews. The police are instructed to keep a watch out for a notorious burglar named Charles, who writes ‘viplavam jayikatte’ (Viva la Revolution) on the walls of houses he plunders. When the same writing is found on the wall of Iththak’s house after his daughter’s gold chain was robbed, the life of everyone in that village turns upside down. Despite SI Ittan’s disdain towards him, Vinayan investigates the case leading to events that tarnishes his name and almost ends his relationship with his college sweetheart. Remainder of the film shows how Vinayan solves the case and wins back his love.
Debut director Manoj Nair who also shares credits for writing has made a faulty start. To his credit, there was merit in the plot. And there were interesting characters too, but he seemed to have fallen short of the necessary skills to pull off what he set out to do. The opening scene left a bad taste in the mouth when Indrans’ character was referred to with the nickname that was used extensively in the 90s. I am not repeating the same out of respect for the costume designer-turned-actor who has proven himself to be an artist of excellent quality.
Thankfully, the writing did not stoop to lows that I had anticipated. Most of the comedy scenes failed to evoke laughter. The efforts to recreate the dynamics of Mohanlal-Sreenivasan duo with Siju and Vinay did not work out. Not because of the shortcomings of the actors. The blame squarely falls on the writing. The loud score and sloppy editing did not help matters either.
The 90s setting bore no relevance to the overall plot. This was done to justify a crucial plot point which inevitably leads to the arrest of the elusive criminal.
Coming to performances, it takes a while before the audience gets to know that Siju is the hero. He is earnest and does a good job. The marketing mostly hinged on Vinay, who is a bigger draw than Siju. Vinay is good as the manipulative and unscrupulous Mathews who is also a bumbling idiot. Vijayaraghavan and Sudhir Karamana are saddled with clichéd roles, which they perform easily. The female characters are just incidental. Mammukoya as the English-speaking local thief is the stand-out character among the lot, Venu and Alencier had it easy with what they were required to do.
There were moments before the interval that held out promise, but it fizzled out fast. Though this one is not a total disaster of a film, it sadly is another case of a good plot and cast losing out to average direction. Wait for a bit and this one might appear on TV or stream online. Give it a shot then.