Chennai: Film: "Veppam"; Cast: Nani, Karthik Kumar, Muthukumar, Nithya Menen, Bindu Madhavi; Director: Anjana Ali Khan; Producer: Photon Kathaas and RS Infotainment (Gautam Menon); Composer: Joshua Sridhar; Cinematographer: Om Prakash; Rating: **
'Veppam' is yet another movie attempting to depict the world of underprivileged and the inevitable underworld that thrives along. Debutant director Anjana, who made ad films before joining Goutham Vasudev Menon, has made the film look slick, thanks to her narrative style and Om Prakash's cinematography.
The script shows her hard work, but it also betrays her shortcomings in making a gripping movie about poor.
The beginning is interesting. It starts with young girl Revathy (Nithya Menen) casually walking into the sea and getting drowned. It looks like a suicide, but you cannot be sure about it as the camera follows the caption that reads '18 years back...'
Cut to the past, you see an ailing mother in a slum area struggling for her life. Her sons are tensed, but her husband Jothi (Shimmor) is desperate for money to buy booze. He even beats up his sons and wife and pushes off.
A stereotypical portrayal of a poor home in a slum area, you might think. Wait. There is more shocking elements in the film. The mother eats poison. Reason? To relieve her sons from the burden of looking after her. The father is still unperturbed, but a good hearted neighbour comes to their rescue by taking the responsibility of raising them.
Elder brother Balaji (Muthukumar) follows in the footsteps of his guardian and becomes a painter, while younger Karthik (Nani) is in college.
Vishnu (Karthik) is Karthik's best friend. Guardian's daughter Revathy and Karthik fall in love.
The irresponsible Jothi has now become a pimp and Viji (Bindhu Madhavi) is among the sex workers he maintains. Vishnu falls for Viji.
Then comes Ammaji (Jennifer), a female don who rules the roost. Jothi is dependent on her for his survival.
Vishnu wants quick money and approaches Jothi to get him some work. What happens after that is the movie all about.
It could have been an engrossing affair with plot having interesting twists and turns - two brothers with disturbed past, a girl, who loves a boy who is not settled yet, an irresponsible father who becomes a pimp, a love affair of a sex worker, the clash between underworld operators, and a mystery over drug pocket and a murder.
But Anjana hasn't succeeded in putting all these into a good film. The script is slow and at times, confusing. The director takes a long time to establish the intimacy between Karthik, Vishnu and Revathy.
The first half doesn't move forward at all. The main conflict between the frustrated sons and scandalous father could have been engaging. But the director brings in too many sub-plots that dilute the overall impact.
The complex relationship between the brothers is not well etched. The build-up about Ammaji looks funny given the way it is busted by two youngsters without much strain.
Cinematographer Om Prakash and music director Joshwa Sridhar have added value to the film by their creativity. Nani is a surprise package while the casting of Bindhu Madhavi as a sex worker is interesting. Both have done their parts well.
Karthik, usually seen as software engineer in movies, takes a different role (rustic) and does justice to it. Nithya Menon looks slim and plays her role with ease.
Director Anjana's narrative style is slick and smart. But she has to brush up her skills in scriptwriting to make an engrossing movie. She has done her homework well but her depiction is replete with stereotype scenes.
The attempt to provide us with a realistic depiction on the rougher sections of the city falls short of expectations, as the whole effort looks like an outsider's view.
Overall, the movie has some positives in terms of looks and narrative style, but it lacks the punch.