Virus movie star cast: Parvathy, Thovino Thomas, Joju George, Dileesh Pothan
Virus movie director: Aashiq Abu
Virus movie ratings: 4 stars
The news of a 23-year-old student infected with Nipah virus in Kerala trickled in just two days ahead of the release of director Aashiq Abu’s Virus, which is based on the Nipah virus outbreak that killed 17 people in 2018. The terrible coincidence had put the filmmakers in a difficult spot as many expected the release might get postponed until the situation was brought under complete control.
Some might have been correct in thinking that the film might add to the public fear while Kerala was battling the second wave of Nipah virus. But, after watching the film, you realise that the opposite is true. The film makes you feel many things: fear, guilt, widespread paranoia, isolation, sorrow, valour, and the strength of human conscience. Hopelessness is not one of them.
Reading/watching news about the number of people affected and dead by the epidemic, more or less, was just a statistic for us. We read, we sympathise and move on. Seldom, we think about the lives that were lost in the outbreak. Virus, however, puts a human face on those statistics.
As Kunchacko Boban’s Dr. Suresh Rajan explains it: “There is no vaccination or treatment protocol for Nipah.” While the outbreak of the deadly virus in Kozhikode is the premise, the characters coming to the terms with the reality and overcoming their own limitations is where the actual drama lies.
A young doctor (naturally played by Sreenath Bhasi) leads the audience into the casualty ward of Kozhikode general hospital. It is business as usual as the ward is packed with patients and their concerned relatives. He has already pronounced the death of an accident victim and resurrected another patient who had flatlined. All that while he was worried about his girlfriend, who was upset with him for some reason. Soon things begin to go out of control at the hospital as the number of people reporting sickness with similar symptoms shoot up and all hell breaks loose. Just like that director Aashiq Abu pulls you into his film and keeps you there until the lights are turned back on in the theater.
The major accomplishment of writers Muhsin Parari, Sharfu and Suhas is presenting the film majorly from the perspective of medical professionals. The film is more about doctors trying to save as many people as possible from the epidemic than the story about a mother coping with the death of her young son.
We also get to listen to what would be the dinner table conversation of a doctor when he goes back home after attending a strange case. We get to understand a nurse prioritising the need of her patients over her own self or a doctor who does not want to hear that another patient had died under his care. The film has plenty of moments highlighting the emotional troubles that medical professionals go through seemingly on a daily basis.
Every actor in the film gets a moment to shine irrespective of their screen time. Especially, Soubin Shahir’s performance as a Nipha victim is very realistic. Indrans, Savithri Sreedharan, Parvathy, Thovino Thomas, Joju George, Dileesh Pothan, Asif Ali, Rima Kallingal and the rest of the ensemble cast have delicately essayed their characters.
From an autorickshaw driver refusing to give a ride to a person suspected of Nipha virus to doctors isolating themselves to protect their loved ones, the film enriches the drama by balancing fear and hope. The success of Virus lies in its filmmakers understanding the little emotions and presenting them so cleverly that you can’t help but relate to the film.