Verdict: The perfect edge-of-the-seat thriller with eerie music and outstanding performances.

“What’s gonna happen now?” might be a constant thought in your mind as you cruise through Varathan. An Amal Neerad production, Varathan has Nazriya Nazim donning the producer’s cape alongside Neerad. While Fahadh Faasil and Aishwarya Lekshmi take on the lead roles, the movie also stars Sharafudeen, Dileesh Pothenand Chetan Jaylal as other key characters. Littil Swayamp wields his camera for the film, while debutants Suhas and Sharfu have written the script. Sushin Shyam’s music sets the mood to keep the thriller moving forward.

What’s Varathan About:

After Aby (Fahadh Faasil) has a setback at his job and his wife Priya (Aishwarya Lekshmi) suffers a miscarriage, the couple decide to take a break from their life in Dubai. They visit Priya’s ancestral property at a plantation in Kerala, where she had spent her childhood. Things take a bad turn when Priya is constantly harassed by the local youth, led by Josee (Sharafudeen). How the non-confrontational and soft-spoken Aby deals with the brash thugs makes up the rest of the movie.

What Works:

Anticipation is what puts Varathan two steps ahead of recent offerings. For most scenes, we wait with bated breath for something sinister to happen. For the first half and most of the second, Amal Neerad brings his restrained self to the screen. Then it’s his signature ‘all guns blazing’ style in the climax. The script is tight and tries to keep the sensibilities of a plantation village real. The similarities in the scenes and the plot to Straw Dogs can hardly be ignored. Littil Swayamp’s camera almost acts as another character in the plot – watching and waiting. The movie addresses issues like voyeurism, stalking and moral policing at length. Fahadh Faasil proves his acting prowess yet again. After a rugged Sibi Sebastian in Carbon, Aby in Varathan is suave and restrained. Aishwarya does well as the victim and her character adds to the tension on the screen. But it’s Sharafudeen as Josee who has outdone himself. He proves that he can be trusted with meatier and versatile roles. Dileesh Pothan as Benny the caretaker and Chetan Jaylal as Preman the local lad have done justice to their roles too. Though the playlist is not extraordinary, Sushin’s background score takes the psychological thriller to another level.

What Could’ve Been Better:

There is hardly anything to fault in Varathan. If one must pick at it, the only thing could be the unrealistic action shots in the climax. But then, they can be ignored if you take it with a pinch of salt.

Why You Should Watch:

Malayalam cinema rarely finds takers for the thriller action category. This is one that fits snugly into that hole. There is hardly a dull moment in this Amal Neerad-Fahadh Faasil combo.