Viruman review: Karthi’s rural entertainer is tepid and formulaic

Viruman movie review: Karthi’s film is passable

Viruman movie review: Viruman doesn’t make you feel much while watching it, nor leaves you with a lot of thoughts about parenting. It is largely a passable movie.

Director Muthaiya has developed a reputation as being one of the few Tamil directors, who can pull off films about rural Tamil Nadu. Yet, his movies offer nothing substantial about the villages and the people inhabiting them. The mere aesthetics of his films are mistaken for genuine representations of rural life. While Karthi has repeated his look from his debut project Paruthiveeran in this film, Viruman is no match for Ameer’s 2007 tragic drama. Of course, Muthaiya doesn’t pretend to make slice-of-life affairs. He merely exploits the ‘rural’ tag to make palatable commercial movies – or in Tamil cinema lingo, mass movies. Like all his previous films, Viruman is another straightforward film with moralistic stands and conservative ideas that are welcomed by the masses. However, what makes Viruman and his previous ventures work is that they are fun – many times unintentionally.

Take the interval scene, for example. Viruman (Karthi) and his father Muniyaandi (Prakash Raj) are on the verge of getting into a physical scuffle at the village panchayat. The hero takes out his sharp weapon to finish off his dad, while the villagers forcefully pull the two apart. However, Viruman is uncontrollable, and he is moments away from going for the kill. Now, our heroine Thaen (Aditi), a bystander, springs into action and kisses Viruman on the lips bringing the whole panchayat to a standstill. And then comes the interval card. It is Muthaiya’s way of telling us, “Look, how this raging bull has been tamed by the gentle touch of a woman.” It is indeed problematic. Yet, the theatre goes berserk.

As far as the story goes, Viruman is about a son who wants to bring down his corrupt and greedy father, who was the reason behind his mother’s suicide. With help from his maternal uncles, Viruman tries to win over his three brothers and prove to his dad that there are things in life that can’t be bought with money or power. The innate issue with Viruman is that it has none. Viruman is conflictless from the start. Things pan out exactly the way you want to, and with an invincible hero, nothing seems to be at stake at all. Ironically, that works in favour of the film.

Instead of becoming a snoozefest, the predictability of Muthaiya’s story makes for an easy watch. Not just the old ideas, the film also harps on the outdated formula of Tamil cinema, where everything ends on a happy note. The seamless performances of Prakash Raj, Karthi, and Aditi, cinematographer Selvakumar SK’s vibrant frames, and Yuvan Shankar Raja’s music are other factors that help in selling this generic venture.

One can go on and on about the ingrained sexism and the romanticisation of familial values that teems in Viruman. Also, we wonder when Tamil directors – from Muthaiya to Gautam Vasudev Menon – will forgo the idea of making the wives and girlfriends as stand-ins for the mothers of our heroes. In Viruman, there is a scene where Thaen’s face reflects on Viruman’s dead mother’s photo – it was one of many instances where I laughed at the film.

Most films on family feuds set in rural areas are ultimately about kudumba paasam (familial love). Viruman would have been interesting if it had broken out of the formula. It takes a diversion, but only to reach the same place by a much longer route. Viruman has three brothers, but I couldn’t remember any of their names at the end of the film, considering how insignificant they are. That says a lot about this tepid kudumba paasam film.

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