Movie Review: Vettah

Vettah was Rajesh Pillai’s final cinematic work before his untimely death in February of this year. Like many of his films, including the widely-acclaimed Traffic, Vettah utilizes hyperlink narrative techniques in conveying a riveting tale about two dedicated police officers attempting to tear through web of lies, conjured by the mysterious, yet crafty Melvin Phillip, in order to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of a beloved actress.  

Commissioner Sribala IPS, portrayed by Manju Warrier, is what every schoolgirl in the 21st century aspires to be. She is a high-ranking law enforcement professional working in a male-dominated field. She is collected and quick-witted in the face of danger. Unfortunately, her personal life is troubled. Because of a dire accident, Sribala’s father, a once respected police officer, has been left in a paralyzed mental state. 

Sreebala’s partner is Assistant Commissioner Xylex Abraham (okay, I know Malayali Christians are notorious for bizarre given names, but no one would go that far!). Despite their working relationship, Sreebala has a nagging suspicion that Xylex, played by Indrajith Sukumaran, was involved in her father’s accident, causing her trust in him to erode. 

Enter Melvin Philip, portrayed by Kunchacko Boban. He is arrested by the police for allegedly being connected to the news-worthy disappearance of Uma Sathyamoorthy, a fictionalized Malayali Hindi film actress. When brought to Sreebala and Xylex for questioning, Melvin Philip confesses to murdering his wife for cheating on him with a man who happens to be the husband of Uma. Phillips further reveals that he killed the husband and Uma happened to be “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

Sreebala and Xylex learn that Melvin, who continuously wears a sinister smile, has left out several details from his story. As the film progresses, the two police officers realize that they’re being manipulated by Melvin, entangled in a convoluted web concealing a heartbreaking, personal tragedy. 

This current wave of experimentation in Malayalam cinema is both refreshing and exciting. From the nonlinear storyline, to the creative cinematography and visually-stimulating shots, Vettah definitely keeps you at the edge of your seat. The unexpected plot twists is guaranteed to magnetize your attention. 

Unfortunately, the film’s novel techniques cannot compensate for its disappointing drawbacks. The action scenes were poorly executed, which one would want to avoid for this type of film. In addition, the acting wasn’t on par. I don’t think Manju Warrier, Indrajith Sukumaran and Kunchacko Boban are terrible actors. In fact, they’ve proven themselves to be exceptional in a number of movies. However, in this film, they didn’t bring their A game. 

So, in conclusion, Vettah could be described as watchable. It’s undoubtedly not a best Malayalam movie of 2016, nor does it qualify for the top five. However, it’s a film you could watch if you want to kill a Sunday afternoon. 

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