Veeram movie cast: Kunal Kapoor, Shivajith Nambia, Divinaa Thackur
Veeram movie director: Jayaraj
Veeram movie rating: 3 stars
Macbeth has been adapted for the big screen many times by the finest of filmmakers in the world. In India, it was Vishal Bharadwaj’s 2003 film Maqbool that narrated the classic tragedy with Mumbai mafia as the backdrop. Veeram is set in feudal Kerala with characters made popular through ballads of northern Malabar.
Veeram is probably the most royal treatment an Indian filmmaker has given to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In fact, director Jayaraj suggests that it is a coincidence that even before Shakespeare wrote his timeless tragedy, the rise and fall of a warrior called Chandu Chekavar was already a part of the folklore, literature and songs of northern Malabar. But where Shakespeare’s tale is high on empathy, Jayaraj’s film is low on emotional connect. Where it wins is with its emphasis on craft.
Veeram is Jayaraj’s sharpest attempt at Macbeth. He cuts to the chase, right from the beginning. Chekavars are the brave fighters who would often fight battles for the noblemen in the ancient kingdom. A sorceress foretells Chandu Chekavar (Kunal Kapoor) that he will soon rise through the ranks in the army of Puthooram clan, with whom he has a bitter history. About 10 minutes into the film, Chandu is appointed the lieutenant of Puthooram clan even as he gives the audience a glimpse of his vicious ambition to ascend to the throne. While he is still not sure how to fulfil his desires, Kuttimani (Divinaa Thackur) of Aringodar clan, which is a rival of Puthooram clan, sets him on a self-destructive path. From that point onwards, Chandu stops at nothing and spares none who poses a challenge to his quest for power. But mind you, he was a righteous man before he gave into his dark desires. He is overcome by guilt and suffers alone. Kuttimani, who was earlier seen howling for the blood of Puthooram clan, also finds herself drowning in the remorse of her past actions. The filmmaker seems to have rushed through conveying the emotions like love, greed, betrayal, remorse that shapes this epic drama, giving very little time for the audience to savour them.
A great deal of detailing has gone into the making of sets, costumes and cast to narrate the valour and tragedy of Chekavars. Even though the film is based on the ballads, the director has not taken a serious poetical tone in the narration. Jayaraj has proved his prowess in presenting a technically sound film with the right use of computer generated imagery and has beautifully explored the rocky landscape of Ajantha Ellora caves to give an enriching cinematic experience.
Well, Kunal looks every bit like a true warrior and has done justice to his role that has brought the legend of Chandu on screen for the world to see. Divinaa, Himarsha Venkatsamy, Shivajith Nambiar have played their parts very well.
Another important aspect of the film is Kerala’s traditional martial art — Kalaripayattu. The scenes involving salutation, sword fights, and training are a treat to watch.
Veeram movie review | Watch Veeram movie trailer
Veeram is brisk and a very good cinematic attempt to give life to the characters of Kerala’s traditional ballads. However, the film seems to have fallen short of the mark in striking an emotional connect with the audience. Instead, it ends up as a skillfully crafted film that you are awe of its art but you feel helpless like Chandu, when he has curling blade around his neck, as it is impossible for the audience to empathise with the tragedy.