Mohanlal's Varavelpu is not just about people who spit in the hand that fed them. It is also a biting account of a suffocating political climate that prevailed at the time.
Varavelpu, which means reception in Malayalam, is one of Mohanlal’s classic movies. While one part of the movie is a hard-hitting political satire, the other offers a kaleidoscopic view of ever-changing paradigms in a conventional household.
Muraleedharan (Mohanlal) is coming back to his hometown in Kerala from the Gulf. The mood is celebratory at his home as his two elder brothers and sisters-in-law are busy cooking his favourite dishes in anticipation of his arrival. There is a reason why his family and friends are making such a big fuss over his homecoming. Back in the day, those who worked in Gulf countries were sort of revered by others. It doesn’t matter what is the nature of your work as long as your earnings are in foreign currency.
Murali’s family was buried in debt, and his brothers had no steady income. To pull his family out of debt and poverty, Murali flies off to the Gulf, where he performs various kinds of menial labour and sends all his hard-earned money to his family. And in no time, the situation of his family improves. Both his brothers, Kumaran and Narayanan (played by Janardhanan and Oduvil Unnikrishnan, respectively) now run successful businesses individually. They have paid off all their debts and bought new properties. And Murali has to only spend a few more years slaving away in the Gulf so that the brothers can further accumulate their wealth.
But, what happens when Murali says enough is enough and decides to stay back at home? Drama, of course. And he will also soon find out the gulf between the family which poured unending affection in their letters when he was slaving away for them in the Gulf and the family that goes into self-preservation mode when it no longer has any use for him.
Varavelpu is not just about people who spit in the hand that fed them. It is also a biting account of a suffocating political climate that prevailed at the time. Legendary screenwriter Sreenivasan, who also plays a supporting role in the film, had made very personal and accurate observations of how unscrupulous minds in left-wing political parties had turned Kerala into an undesirable place for business investment and industrial expansion.
The film shows how some trade unions, in the name of fighting for the rights of workers, put many common people out of their jobs for selfish reasons and further pushed them into crippling poverty. Murali’s entrepreneurial aspirations and will to achieve financial independence from the day to day drudgery of work is crushed mercilessly by those who make a living by exploiting the political beliefs of common people.
Director Sathyan Anthikad humorously provides a relentless account of a system that empowers the hypocrites and destroys honest people.
Varavelpu streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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