Chandu Chekavar and the ballads of Northern Malabar once again come into the limelight with Veeram , the latest outing of director Jayaraj. The award-winning director, this time, experiments a new blend; a folklore tale from Northern Kerala with the Shakespeare classic, Macbeth.
The challenge is obvious as we still remember the deconstruction of the same story by M T Vasudevan Nair in Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha (1989).
Veeram had already made headlines, with its star cast, crew and spending (an estimated Rs 35 crore). It is quite normal that expectations were sky-high.
The movie opens with the narration of the victory of Chandu Chekavar (Kunal Kapoor) over a hunter, who killed his father. Then, a sorceress foretells that he will soon rise through the ranks in the army of Puthooram clan. This prediction fans the flames of his ambitions. He then joins as the aide and right hand of Aromal Chekaver (Shivajith Nambiar).
Apart from his goal of becoming the chief, Chandu wants to nurture a relationship with Unniyarcha (Himarsha Venkatsamy), Aromal’s sister whom he loves but cheated him once.
But when Kuttimani (Divinaa Thackur) of Aringodar clan, which is a rival of Puthooram clan, enters his life, Chandu becomes unscrupulous and starts living only to fulfil his dreams.
Veeram is a technically brilliant film. Starting from the background score to colour grading, the artistic beauty is visible. Visually it is indeed a treat. Music by American composer Jeff Rona is really charming, especially the title track.
When compared to Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha (which is unavoidable), which was filmed almost three decades ago, the entire plot falls flat. The blending of the tale with Macbeth only happened in terms of soliloquy of Chandu Chekavar and Kuttimani (with reference to Lady Macbeth). The first half is too hollow and only the second half has some life.
Every scene is immersed in unwanted colours. The artificiality of tattoos and body paintings on every characters does not go along with the overall theme of the film which is set in a rural background.
The stunt choreography based on the martial art Kalaripayattu by Allan Poppleton is good. Veeram sequences draws similarities to 300, Hollywood movie (2006) directed by Zack Snyder. It appears the idea was to recreate a Mollywood version of 300, but the execution floors.
The performance of Kunal Kapoor is average. Divinaa Thackur fails to be convincing as Kuttimani, even as the character had much potential for a good performance. Most of the new-comers have done well. In the end, Veeram is movie full of colour and slow-motions, signifying nothing.