A tale of friendship and vendetta, the film hinges on its emotional quotient to sustain audience attention. Weaving a fairly engaging tale and moving his narration with focus and assurance, the director (apprenticed with Kamal Haasan, Simbu) establishes his credentials in his very first effort.
The rural ethos is captured realistically, the characters well fleshed out and the performances finely tuned. Vanmam centres on two friends and the fallout due to an unfortunate incident. It’s of how a small spark snowballs into a major issue causing turmoil in their lives. Weaved in is the romantic angle between Kreshna and Sunaina, the daughter of one of the bigwigs of the area. The two share a pleasant screen chemistry. The scenes depicting the bonding between buddies Radha and Chelladurai (Sethupathi, Kreshna) have a very natural flow.
It’s Vijay Sethupathi’s film the whole way. The actor renders a power packed performance, capturing each nuance of the character with precision and understanding. He is the big brother in the relationship, intense, and daring; a man who coming to the defence of his friend commits an act that later would drive a wedge between them. The changing equation between the friends is convincing. There is an element of suspense on whether Chelladurai would be able to maintain silence of his friend’s act. The rest of the story goes on predictable lines.
Kreshna is a perfect foil, adequate in the part he’s given. The ending is rather a compromised one. The camera captures the rural ambiance effectively. The fights and chases are well choreographed. On the flip side, it is too high on drama at times, but the pace slackens in the second half. The film could have been trimmed to make it crisper. On balance, Vanmam is a treat for Vijay Sethupathi’s fans.