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‘Velvet Nagaram’ Review: A Film That Had Scope But Decided To Do Away With It

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Cast: Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Ramesh Thilak, Prakash Raghavan, Kasthuri

Director: Manoj Kumar Natarajan

Velvet Nagaram, in my opinion, is a great title. Given the fact that the film talks about (or at least claims to) how forest fires and the deaths associated aren’t mere accidents but are created by people in authority, Velvet which can serve as a symbol of wealth and power is suggestive of how our city is in the hands of wealthy people who misuse power. Great thinking and kudos to Manoj for that. But I only wish the same amount of effort and thought had gone into the screenplay. All is well till the 40th minute of the film and then bam! You’re in the middle of a high-school squabble.

Gauri (Kasthuri Shakar), an actor and social activist based out of Chennai is trying to seek justice for a forest fire that happened in Kodaikanal. She takes the help of reporter Usha (Varalaxmi) who happens to be her schoolmate and colleague too. Gauri ends up being killed while on a phone call with her. Usha comes to Chennai to find the reason behind her death and to seek justice on behalf of Gauri while staying with her friends Priya (Malavika Sundar) and Mugilan (Pradeep Benetto Rayan).

After a tiring series of ‘farmer’ films, sports dramas with no sport at all and delusional women empowerment films, there finally comes a movie that had potential but decided instead to be just the pioneer of a new series. Until half of the film, I didn’t understand what was happening. While Varalaxmi’s and the parallel random gang of goons led by Michael’s (Arjai) motives are understandable, the clues and people they talk about aren’t comprehensible. Though it irked at the beginning, as it progressed I couldn’t care less because none of it had any importance later. I think the director knew it wouldn’t be of any use, so he just decided to fill up the narrative with whatever he pleased. And there is no end to this. A two-minute conversation about a ‘Kara’ between Mugilan and Varalaxmi’s brother Deepak (Prakash Raghavan) with the question who is Gautham Vasudev Menon, a random revelation that Deepak is a porn star is made, among many other such things.

The ‘sketch’ Selvam (Santhosh Krishnan) makes for a quarrel at the pub is in itself too farfetched and it only seemed like they wanted to stretch the film as much as possible so that you forget there was another plot. And to avoid the question of what happened to Gauri, you’re given a connection at the very end. By then you’re already waiting to walk out from the terrible mess. What should’ve been a struggle for justice turned out to be a struggle for escaping from a bunch of over-the-top goons, inturn being a struggle for me to watch.

Varalaxmi hardly does anything in the film. I have not seen an extraordinary performance from her yet and in a film where she is supposedly the titular character, she fails to carry the film. She is either tied up, angry or attempts to cry when she’s required to show an outburst of emotions. I honestly believed Ramesh Thilak, who had good screen space, would turn out to be the hero of the film. But he does just a little more than Varalaxmi. His grey-shaded character could’ve been put to much more use but was wasted completely.

Just like how the film didn’t have any focus, the shots too had absolutely no focus. All shots had bad framing and poor lighting with shadows falling everywhere. An already poor story was only disturbed further with bad camera work by Bhagath Kumar.

The Velvet Nagaram review is a Silverscreen India original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen India and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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