It is very interesting to see how Jayaraj adapts Shakespeare to films, setting them in a Malayali milieu. Be it the theyyam backdrop in ‘Kaliyattam’ (adaptation of ‘Othello’) starring Manju Warrier and Suresh Gopi or the Jallikettu in ‘Kannaki’ (adaptation of Anthony and Cleopatra) starring Lal and Nandita Das, the cultural transformation and the domesticating of universal emotions is worth a watch. This time, we have ‘Macbeth’ translated on screen as ‘Veeram’. Here we have Kalaripyettu as a backdrop. The movie is rich in colours and if new to the story of Chandu Chekavar, one is sure to be immersed in this story of greed, betrayal, and guilt. But the translation of emotions is where ‘Veeram’ flatters.
In ‘Veeram’ we have North Malabar of yore taking shape and the warriors of the age coming to life. The movie gets into track as soon as it opens. Ten minutes into the movie, Chandu Chekavar has already ascended into the ranks of a commander. Chandu’s “veeram” is depicted brilliantly in a duel sequence. The story is familiar in the Malayalam literature-folklore tradition and Jayaraj has used it well. Chandu is a brave warrior of the Puthooram clan. On his way back from a victorious battle a sorcerer foretells that he would soon rise in ranks as the clan’s commander and later ascend the throne. This sows the seed for greed and ambition in his mind which ultimately leads to his fall. The stage is set for his fall when war breaks out between the Puthooram clan and the Aringador clan.
Chandu’s ladylove, the unabashed Kuttimani of the Aringador clan is who poisons Chandu’s mind to fulfil his greed by usurping Aromal, the Puthooram clan head to ascend the throne. Following the deed, Chandu is besought by remorse and guilt which haunts him till the end. Kuttimani too is remorseful of her scheming and is afflicted by doubt and guilt that proves her end.
The violent story of betrayal and guilt is brought to life beautifully with stunning visuals and sequences. One is quite taken aback by the sheer effort that has gone into perfecting the computer generated images. It is quite heartening to see Malayalam cinema taking on the challenge to perfect it. But then the production cost is said to be around 35 crores making this the most expensive Malayalam cinema till date. Jayaraj has used technicians of calibre to perfect the graphics, art work- including body art, and light. Like he said during the trailer release, the technicalities and technicians take the limelight. Appu Bhattathiri’s editing, S Kumar’s cinematography all are brilliant. Jeff’s music too is notable.
Kunal Kapoor as Chandu is apt and he performs well as the graceful warrior at first and the gloomy and severely paranoid person later on is brilliantly depicted. His fights and bearing is warror like and he has been able to carry his role well. Divinaa Thackur too has emoted well as the passionate and conniving Kuttimani. Shivajith Namibar as Aromal was effective in his role. All the others in the movie too are spot on.
The drawback is that, ‘Veeram’ fails to connect emotionally and one does not feel empathy as the blade curves around Chandu’s neck. There is a disconnect emotional wise and the movie does not connect with the viewer. But otherwise, ‘Veeram’ is a good watch. Watch the movie for its stunning visuals, use of colours and technical expertise.