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The Moving Vimanam Heaps The Melodrama Mountain High




Vimanam(Telugu, Zee5)

Rating: ***

Do  you remember Mehmood’s Kunwara Baap? In this highly melodramatic film Mehmood played a rickshaw puller  who will do  anything  for his polio-afflicted son.

In Vimanam it is the father who is physically disabled. Samuthirakani is a fine actor. He brings to  the role of the  father   a modicum  of gravitas  that the film perhaps doesn’t earn for itself. His Veerayya is heaped with  so much misfortune it begins to feel like poverty porn. But Samuthirakani never feels  sorry  for  himself; although the  screenplay often insists that he  must  feel the burden  of his impoverished existence the actor somehow  succeeds in  rising above the  stilted script.

Writer-director Shiva  Prasad  wants to  construct a mountain of maudlinism  .In  that  endeavor he  tilts  so far backward into the slush of tears we fear the film would drown in  the puddle. Providentially  Vimanam escapes  the wages  of schmaltz  to emerge  as a moving  story of a resilient father  and his little son who dreams  of flying.

A  lot of the  narrative  rightly focuses  on the father’s fight to find flight and fulfil his son’s dying wish.Veraiyya’s naïve optimism  will break your heart. The impoverished father needs only ten thousand rupees to  make his son’s dream come true.It feels like ten crores for him.

The climax with a  lovely Meera Jasmine playing a kind airhostess had be bawling like  a baby. This is the most heartbreaking tearjerker I have seen in a long time. Writer-director is  on the dot. If little  Raju(Master Dhruvan) aspires to fly in a plane, this writer-director’s  life’s ambition is  to make the audience cry.

In that endeavour  Vimanam  flies higher than  you would expect. What clips its  wings are   the incidental  characters, a foul-mouthed  prostitute  with a  heart of gold(Anusuya  Bhardwaj), an autodriver  and a shoe repairer…they all pitch in to tell us how  wonderful poor people are. If only the  poor didn’t have to suffer  the  pangs of poverty!

Calming in spite of its  shrill hysterical tone, Vimanam would have been so much more  effective had it chosen understatement over screaming emotions.The central performance uplifts the  film far  higher than it aspires to. If  only Samuthirakani didn’t have to pluck such low-hanging fruits.

This  film wants the audiences’ tears. It gets it.

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