Varshangalkku Shesham review: Pranav-Dhyan starrer is a tribute to cinema and friendship

Varshangalkku Shesham review: Pranav-Dhyan starrer is a tribute to cinema and friendship

A stellar cast, some hilarious moments, great music, and digs at its own actors make this Vineeth Sreenivasan film engaging, though the emotions in the script do not always translate onto the screen.
Varshangalkku Shesham (Malayalam)(3 / 5)

When he is deeply drunk and laughing hysterically, or when he turns back from the steering wheel to blink and say ‘chumma’ – Murali (Pranav Mohanlal), the eccentric musician in Varshangalkku Shesham is meant to make you think of Mohanlal from the late 80s. One of the greatest actors of Malayalam, Mohanlal made quirkiness look cool through several inimitable gestures in his films. Revisiting the cinema of those decades and the years before, writer and filmmaker Vineeth Sreenivasan cast Mohanlal’s son and actor Pranav as Murali. With a beard and meandering curls hiding half his face, Pranav might be mistaken for his father in a few passing shots. But barring the physical resemblance, they are miles apart.

Varshangalkku Shesham, running through decades of cinema, and enriched by music that combines melody with a heavy orchestra (Amrit Ramnath the composer is a wonderful discovery), is a tribute to the struggling many who dream of making it big in movies. In other ways, it is a satire that digs at its own makers and main actors. While all the hullabaloo makes it engaging and brings some laughter, the emotions in the script do not always translate onto the screen. 

Vineeth, known for his fondness for the old days and anything nostalgic (this is a man who brought back cassette tapes for his previous film!), is in his element when he writes a film about two young men – one a writer and the other a musician – trying their luck in cinema in the 1970s. Dhyan, Vineeth’s brother and actor, plays the other young man Venu, absolutely adept at comedy, expressions of dismay and embarrassment flashing through his face till he reaches old age. And then for some reason, it is all too mellow. 

Vineeth also has an incurable love for Madras/Chennai. So off go Venu and Murali to Kodambakkam, as most Malayalis with film dreams did in those days. The script captures the rudimentary details of men without money or contacts making their way through a maze-like industry. Venu screws in nails and fixes bulbs while Murali drags his violin to every recording studio until he finds his place in one. It is not easy, the script says, but does not engulf with the drudgery. At two and three-quarters of an hour, the film is still tightened with just enough material to let you skimp through the stages of the characters’ lives and inadvertently, the changes in filmmaking.

Cinema becomes a backdrop for the story which puts its thrust on friendship, struck by the usual recipes of misunderstandings and ego clashes. The men’s respective romances do not get the same importance. Kalyani Priyadarshan and Neeta Pillai have short appearances, perhaps to not let the love stories hinder the main storyline of friendship.

But more than the bond between the men, what shakes you are the digs that Vineeth has lavishly allowed on himself and others. From nepotism to body-shaming and the many jokes about men past retirement (nothing offensive, of course, this is Vineeth) many moments work because of the perfect comic timing of the actors. 

Neeraj Madhav, in his short stint, is hilarious. Nivin Pauly as Nithin Molly nearly plays himself and does it wonderfully with his ‘viral venting out’. Basil Joseph, Shaan Rahman, and Aju Varghese – all from the Vineeth Sreenivasan camp – also get their due. Only, the jokes are in bad taste when they are used to lighten instances of harassment, as the follies of men. 

Vineeth has no qualms in admitting that he has a set pattern of storytelling, and he pulls his own leg to show it in the climax. There is a certain spirit you have to admire in one who can laugh at oneself, his actor-writer father Sreenivasan is also famous for it. But along the way, Vineeth keeps moving the bar up. 

As a splendid singer himself, he has always attached a lot of importance to music in his films. As a director, he has found a way to have at least one tune ringing in the heads of his audience, way after the end credits roll. If in Thattathin Marayathu it was the BGM, in Varshangalkku Sesham it is the track ‘Nyabagam’ and the enchanting string music accompanying Pranav's character. It is heartening that Vineeth has brought in his wife and lovely singer Divya to the screen to render a track. 

When you take stock of the work that went into the making of Varshangalkku Sesham, the love for cinema that comes through, and Vineeth's visualisation of dreams turning real, you will perhaps be touched more by the effort behind the camera than in front of it. And that, as Basil Joseph’s character in the film would say, is also the magic of cinema.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

The News Minute