The choice of such a title (‘Varnyathil Aashanka’ translates to ‘Confusion in Description’) for this Siddharth Bharathan directorial is indeed a masterstroke. The overlapping of genres is administered justifiably well by writer Thrissur Gopalji and the director. ‘Varnyathil Aashanka’ isn’t about a solo protagonist – we have a shelf full of characters (mostly well-written), each contributing to the either the comedy or the thrills (hint: there are no songs except the one played during the title credits, or romantic tracks at all – a step closer to accomplishing the kind of ‘realism’ Malayalam cinema has lately been welcoming with both hands!).
The film kicks off on a rather low-brow note: it slowly builds up the connections between the lead characters, the circumstances that usher them to take certain hasty decisions (money being the primary concern for all!), and the involvement of party-politic(ian)s in all of this. It’s a thing of beauty how the writer links the four main characters (played by Kunchacko Boban, Chemban Vinod, Shine Tom & Manikandan Achari) in a series of incidents finally concluding in a jewelry- store heist – the fifth main character’s (played by Suraaj Venjaramoodu, who is in tremendous form these days) inclusion into the proceedings is purely accidental. The screen does light up a tad better when Suraaj’s character is introduced into the storyline.
The techniques used by the thugs aren’t exactly professional per se; it’s more a case of shrewdness and rising up to the occasion that aids them in getting the job done. It was wonderful to see the writer (or was it the director’s improvisation?) pick on audience nostalgia by including political party names and references from the cult-classic ‘Sandhesham’. Gopalji bestows each of his leads with a few humorous / eccentric characteristics that make them discernible: Look at Kautta Shivan (Boban), the brash thug-like pilferer with a grudge on his own brother (who’s a steadfast Communist) – in fact it’s this reason alone that points to things ultimately spiraling way out of control; Paara Wilson (Chemban Vinod) who has a thing for crowbars; Gilbert (Manikandan) who reinstates that the bike which had been stolen from him by Shivan, was his father’s (while it was actually a priest’s – the Malayalam word for both being the same!) – detailed in a short chuckle-worthy flashback; Pradheesh (Shine Tom) who has had enough of being pestered by his supposed ‘girl’-friend and is sharp enough to notice how the occasion of a harthal (strike) would be easily the best opportunity to conduct a heist.
Yet, it is Suraaj (playing the character of Dayaanandan) who takes away the lion’s share of the honors owing to a thoroughly grounded (and layered) performance – his character seems naive at first (he makes his entry around the 45th minute mark), but there’s a sly side to him which the viewer gets to know later on. The scene where he springs into a drunken dance on an empty road is sure to bring the house down. The heist scenes themselves aren’t the most thrilling – it’s the little things that keep us engrossed – how Shivan uses the weighing machine at the shop to split the stash, how Wilson asks the Lord for forgiveness for unintentionally switching off the wrong bulb, how Dayaanandan in a sudden turn of events, assumes charge of the leader of the pack.
And then, there’s the “message” – that the ones we saw so far are just petty criminals – the bigger ones hold prestigious positions in the society and have lesser integrity than the foursome. ‘Varnyathil Aashanka’ doesn’t offer the kind of incessant laughter as in ‘Sapthamashree Thaskaraha’ or purvey the kind of tense thrills as in ‘Kohinoor’, nonetheless manages to draw a circle of its own and hold its head up high, in terms of entertainment value.
Verdict: Entertains, and sometimes that’s more than enough!
Watch the trailer here: