Irandam Ulagam (Tamil) / Varna (Telugu) is all about how the past can subsume the present, how weakness can coexist with resilience, how lyrical can run alongside the sinister, and how far can you travel to find your love. But what could have been a rare equilibrium in a mystical land ends up in rigmarole of ‘spot the difference’ or ‘understand the plot’ kind of story.
The premise says that without love the human race can’t flourish and somewhere down the lane it says ‘love is eternal’. Right from the word go, in a ‘graphic mode’, the movie charts the preaching terrain. The movie shifts between THIS (terrestrial) world and THAT (celestial) world and the first half moves slowly with decent intercuts between the two worlds. The movie is a two-world labyrinth and in the end there’s a third one added to that. Director Selva Raghavan (aka Sri Raghava) fails to give a proper justification for the space and time, and its path meanders out of the realm of trees, forests, mountains, castles, snow-capped mountains into varied panoramas.
Irandam Ulagam / Varna is the tale of a young doctor (played by Arya) and his colleague (played by Anushka), in this world, sharing a companionship and the dream-world of eternal togetherness. The chain of events is set in a sluggish motion that relentlessly leads him to a point (in both worlds) from where the story takes a volte-face. Both the characters in the two worlds get estranged in a similar situation. Hope you are darn confused to understand the story. Don’t worry, there are many people still racking their brains as what the story is?
The second half is all set in ‘that’ world. Though the locales breathe some life into that world, the narration makes it mundane. As the film progresses, every new scene saps its essence drop by drop. Arya’s character juggles between two worlds adding more confusion. It’s surprising to see no change in the behavioral traits of the people as per the eco-system of the respective worlds and this fails to bring a stark contrast. Even in that world people are stuck in the vortex of family ties, quarrels with spouses, brawl with neighbors amid not knowing about love. In a sheer artificial way, all the earthly emotions surface from Anushka’s character during the climax.
Selva Raghavan picks up the right idiosyncrasies for his characters, but fails miserably to give believable traits and a proper arc. You fix your eyes only on Arya and Anushka, as they are the only noticeable faces in the entire film. The other members of the cast cease to exist. The scenarios and song placements are so silly that you feel there are thorns on your seat.
The movie can be lauded for its visuals and its background score, which is melodious and lilting. But you can’t see some fine gems coming from the repertoire of Anirudh Ravichander biting the dust in insipid scenes. Harris Jayraj is unimpressive with his music. One or two good melodies (including the Hotel California inspired track) fall prey to poor timing and bad execution. Camerawork by Ramji is classy and welcoming, so as the art direction and graphics work. The snowfall sequence has been canned well with picture perfect framing.
It seems the director uses and reuses only one template and just changes the set-pieces here and there. He should learn that stupendous visual effects can’t hide silly writing. Irandam Ulagam / Varna is a classic example of his imagination and intent to tell an emotional story going haywire. In a scene, Anushka says she is a free bird and nobody can curtail her freedom. Then what’s the reason behind director Selva Raghavan killing an exotic bird, by peeling it feather by feather, in a two-world labyrinth!
My Rating: Expectation – 8/10; Reality – 4/10view less