Veyil makes me want to quote a line from Paul Newman’s Cool Hand Luke: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” You’ll find in Veyil one or more characters getting frustrated often because they either can’t gauge the feelings of someone close to them or they can’t get them to understand what they are going through. You’ll often hear a character asking, “Tell me what’s wrong,” on multiple occasions, and it’s not always the same character.
This reluctance of some individuals to open up, and how it makes things worse than it already is, forms the central crux of Veyil. Shane Nigam plays Sidharth, a character who keeps his feelings bottled up for the longest time until the time is right to reveal them.
So is the case with his mother Radha (a brilliant Sreerekha). Some moviegoers might find this approach—of withholding information and trusting the viewer to connect the dots instead—annoying. The film’s aversion to spoonfeeding is certainly applause-worthy. Patient viewers will find a lot to relate to here.
There might be a Sidharth or Radha—or for that matter Karthik (Saed Imran), Sidharth’s younger brother—in your family. This is an honest film made with a lot of heart. So imagine my disbelief when I saw hardly ten members in the theatre I saw it in. It’s unfair to give a film such as this a cold shoulder.
Veyil presents a picture of a struggling mother who brought up her two sons after their father had passed long ago. But I liked how the mother isn’t willing to let her misfortunes bother her. I liked how Radha manages to get through every day and do whatever she needs to get done instead of constantly bemoaning her fate.
The film opens in the present, and the screenplay is structured like a recollection of memories of two life-altering phases in Sidharth’s life. But it’s Sidharth himself who becomes a bigger adversary than the events he gets himself in. It’s his inner demons—the ill feelings accumulated over the years—which torment him.
Shane is splendid as someone who forces himself to make sacrifices for his younger brother and is occasionally at loggerheads with his mother for... what exactly? Be patient. Sidharth makes a crucial choice in the first hour of the film simply because he has been led to believe that he is not supposed to have anything that his brother had his eye on, even if it becomes evident later on that the latter won’t get what he wants. When Sidharth forsakes a source of great happiness out of his own volition, the character goes through an even darker transformation. The good-for-nothing brother becomes a thug while the younger brother aces his entrance exams and makes his mother proud.
There are places where Shane’s portrayal gets so intense that I kept asking myself whether Sidharth would end up like Mohanlal in Kireedam. Fortunately, he doesn’t. I believe he comes close, though. There are times when he succeeds at keeping it together, but at others, he isn’t, like that one disturbing moment where he unleashes his angst on a differently-abled boy, the son of the woman next door. That woman, too, has her own story, although the film doesn’t focus too much on them, and I can imagine why. That household has ostensibly seen more pain than the one on this side of the fence.
Geethi Sangeetha, whom we saw last in Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Churuli, delivers a moving, haunting performance as the boy’s mother. One emotionally stirring moment instantly reminded me of that famous KPAC Lalitha-Kalabhavan Mani scene from Valkkannadi.
Veyil begins with this Woody Allen quote: “If my films make one more person miserable, I’ll feel I have done my job.” I can say without a doubt that filmmaker Sarath has pulled off the same in his debut feature. Miserable in a good way, because after piling one heartbreaking moment upon another, it is ready with the antidote too, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel—or, in this case, veyil (sunlight).
It could’ve gone in much darker tangents, but it also believes that sometimes implications are more than sufficient. The final moments of redemption left me with a lump in my throat but also content. I hope that warm hug reverses, at least to some extent, the damages inflicted by a bygone time.
- Film: Veyil
- Director: Sarath
- Cast: Shane Nigam, Sreerekha, Sona Olickal, Saed Imran
- Rating: 4/5