It is difficult to spin extraordinary stories around middle class lives unless you can prise their small material concerns and petty jealousies away from deeper human relationships. Gautam Vasudev Menon has tried to do that with Vaaranam Aayiram, bringing some of his personal sense of loss into the script.
The film’s strong point is the nucleus around which it revolves — a middle class, open, liberal and close-knit family that is not situated in any tradition of religiosity, communal belief or other cultural ballast. Such liberalism is mostly realistic and the elder Surya lives the part, as does Simran who plays his wife.
The younger Surya’s attempts at finding love, and the unexpected emotional burdens that it casts on him begin to weigh the story down a bit. Vaaranam Aayiram presents the urban middle class, with its western orientation, as supportive not merely of secular love, but of pre-marital sex by the couple-to-wed; it also understands the pangs of youth, and rather than alienate a young man torn by psychological distress and drugs, shows great understanding and love.
In this story of tremendous family bonding, Gautam V. Menon finds some space to showcase his trademark high velocity action. His frames are energised when knives and swords clash, in the dull light of a wintry morning in a suburb of Delhi. He also delights with some of the retro clothes and dances as the elder Surya (Krishnan in the film) rewinds to his courtship of Simran (Malini).
Sameera Reddy and Divya Spandana are pretty and plain in that order, and their relationship with Surya in this story are useful to the point that it reorients his connection with his family.
This is a film that might appear cloying to some, as the father-son relationship overwhelms the story. But in the end, it reminds today’s busy and worry-free middle class that it is perhaps disconnected from the deeper meaning of family relationships.