Vaashi Movie Review: In debutante Vishnu G Raghav’s Vaashi, there were two pertinent statements made that remained in my mind long after the movie was over. Both the statements reflect the nature of Vaashi as a legal drama and what it wants to say about our legal system. The first statement is when someone, I think it was Tovino’s character, who says that in a court, it is not the truth that matters, but which lawyer presents his side better with conclusive proof and arguments. Vaashi Movie Review: Tovino Thomas, Keerthy Suresh’s Courtroom Drama Gets Thumbs Up From Netizens!
The second statement comes towards the end of the movie, where Tovino’s character (again) says that truth is merely perception that changes depending on which shade of grey the matter lies. He wants to say, the truth depends for you based on which side you are looking on. In terms of the case Tovino and Keerthy Suresh’s characters argue in the movie, I may be agreeing with the statement. But does the ‘shades of grey’ argument hold when a victim is sexually assaulted by a perpetrator using his power and privilege to perpetuate that crime? This thought clouded my confused my mind, as I came out of the theatre hall, wondering what really should I make of Vaashi.
Should I purview the film as some sort of Abhimaan– like drama that is set against the legal system? Or should I see it like a Section 375-like movie that tries to go against the tide and want to present the ‘argument’ that false rape cases can happen and even men can be victims? In both aspects of its narrative, Vaashi shows promise more than often, but unravels it all in an underwhelming finale that tries to offer a satisfactory conclusion to all the threads but is far from satisfactory.
Ebin (Tovino Thomas) and Madhavi (Keerthy Suresh) are junior lawyers trying to make a name for themselves. They are also good friends, and after one point, they begin to develop feelings for each other. Thanks to his influential brother-in-law (Rony David), Ebin is appointed as a public prosecutor. Madhavi, meanwhile, gets her big break when a relative asks her to defend her brother.
The same case happens also to be Ebin’s big case as well, only that he has to make sure the young man (Anu Mohan, passable) is charged guilty on accusation of rape under the false pretext of marriage. Things become even more complicated for the lawyer couple when their families get them married right when the case is ongoing, and Ebin-Madhavi find it difficult to keep their courtroom antagonism out of their bedroom.
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Balancing a marriage story against a complicated but relevant legal matter and then seeking how one affects the other’s outcome and vice-versa does make Vaashi an interesting watch. Even more interesting is to see the accused being defended by the female protagonist, while the male lead tries his best to give him the maximum sentence. It is not just the paradoxical gender dynamics at work that is intriguing, but also how stances change when the leads are out of the courtroom arena.
Like earlier in the film, Ebin takes a dig at their mentor and senior lawyer (played by an amiable Baiju Santosh) for adding a domestic violence allegation to make his case stronger, and laments how it is the woman who always have the edge over men when it comes to getting justice in such cases. To which, Madhavi replies that Ebin is discounting mental abuse as a form of domestic violence, and how it is never easy for women. So it was fascinating to see they had to compromise on their ideologies and thoughts when they had to win their first major case, which also includes manipulating witnesses and dragging their own personal demons there. Vaashi: Ahead Of The Film’s Release, Tovino Thomas Shares A BTS Video Of His Legal Drama Co-Starring Keerthy Suresh.
When it comes to the two aspects of Vaashi’s narrative, even I was surprised that I preferred the leads’ domestic life saga over the legal matter in hand. I could understand Madhavi’s desperation to prove herself, and also Ebin’s attitude to take a more placating stance which he thinks can work out peace (and doesn’t always end so, still I feel you, bro!). The tensions within their marriage feel credible. But a couple of things do hamper what I felt about how this storyline is set up.
For one, I didn’t understand their families’ urgency to get both of them married so soon, and why the couple, despite being shown headstrong, fails to make them comply otherwise. Secondly, and this is purely my sentiment here, I found a distinct lack of chemistry between Tovino and Keerthy, even though both the actors commit to their roles with immaculate ease and likeability. Still, the tensions and cracks in their marriage, deepend by the case they are fighting as well as adjusting with their relatives, make Ebin and Madhavi’s personal space story watchable.
That said, how this storyline concludes felt like an easy compromise, like the writer coming to a middle ground in trying to give the couple a happy ending. ‘Compromise’ is also the word that comes to my mind when I evaluate the legal drama aspect of Vaashi. The timing for bringing the debate out is quite apt; right when the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial is over that opened the debate window wide on #EvenMenAreVictims and #NotAllMen. Vaashi deals with a tricky case – if it is right to evaluate consensual sex under false pretext of marriage in the same bracket as rape, especially when the circumstances to prove the pretext are never conclusive.
Does Vaashi break any new grounds in presenting this matter? Sadly, no. Instead, I believe the movie puts a stand that might harm the cause of actual women victims, something Ebin even points out. The clincher is when Madhavi uses the arguments of feminism to defend her client is when I thought was the right time to roll my eyes. Sure, I don’t mind seeing Madhavi turning selfish and make gallery-appeasing statements to get that win but I am oblivious about how conflicted she feels when she knows her client is not all innocent.
That said, there is a nice shot of brilliance in the epilogue when the film shows the sleeping quarters of the presiding judge (Kottayam Ramesh… is he the busiest actor in Mollywood now?) and we see a picture frame on his table. This brings me back the statement I mentioned in the opening para, where I would want to add that it is not just about which lawyer presents the better statements, but it also depends on how well a judge can keep his personal convictions aside.
– Tovino Thomas and Keerthy Suresh
– Moments That Show Cracks in Their Marriage
– The Courtroom Drama Doesn’t Live Completely to Expectations
Vaashi has its plus and minuses, the pluses more in the performances of the lead actors – Tovino and Keerthy both doing well – and the personal storyline of their characters. The minuses come in how the film concludes the legal drama which fails to do, for the lack of a better word, ‘justice’ to what it wants to argue about. Still, Vaashi manages to engage and connect with you most of the time, making it a watchable, well-performed drama.
(The above story first appeared on Onhike on Jun 17, 2022 08:52 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website onhike.com).