Movie Review | Vaalvi': The termites you won't mind watching
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Ajit Andhare
Around a decade and a half ago Paresh Mokashi infused a fresh breath of air into the Marathi film industry then caught in run-of-the-mill content by directing Oscar-nominated ‘Harishchandrachi Factory’. Now he has come up with ‘Vaalvi’, a genuine dark comedy, a genre that is not often tried in Marathi.
While there are no doubts about the efficiency he brings to the table as the captain of the ship, equal credit is due to his better half, Madhugandha Kulkarni who has co-produced and written the thriller. She also happens to be the dialogue writer. Aptly accentuated by a terrific background score, it is her writing that provides the entire cast ‘n’ crew enough material to deliver their best to keep the audiences glued to their seats.
During the run-up to the release of this movie, the makers had described it as a thrill-com or Ra-Haasya [a portmanteau of rahasya (mystery and haasya (humour)]. And to a large extent, the movie lives up to the claim.
Aniket (Swapnil Joshi) and his wife Avani (Anita Date) are a couple who decide to end their lives together. The plan actually is to get Avani to end her life so that Aniket can be with his beloved Devika (Shivani Surve). The murder plan is meticulously hatched and rehearsed by Aniket and Devika. However, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry and Aniket and Devika are no exception. Their apple cart is upset and even before Aniket could kill Avani, the latter is found dead.
While this forms by and large the first half of the story, the second is devoted to attempts to dispose of Avani's body. It is here that the movie loses a bit of its steam but gathers pace again towards its climax.
Reigning superstars of the Marathi film industry, Anita Date, Subodh Bhave, and Swapnil Joshi are just perfect for their characters of a wife undergoing treatment for mental health, her shrink, and her husband who wants to kill her. All three are veterans and deliver their career-best performances. Rubbing shoulders with them is Shivani Surve who excels in the portrayal of a depraved dentist.
The writing is commendable and largely follows Chekhov’s gun theory. All strands beautifully coalesce in the climax giving you a complete experience. The narrative stays focused without getting preachy about issues like morality and fidelity. No single character is positive here and that’s fun. However, in absence of a backstory to any of the characters we do not understand the rationale behind their actions. ‘Perfect suicide is perfect murder’ is what the characters believe here and it is up to audiences to either take it or leave it.
Keeping the length at one hour and forty minutes, the movie is taut. Something is happening in every scene and it is enough to keep you hooked to the end, albeit with some cliched cinematic liberties. There are not many surprises or shocks but whatever is unfolding is riveting enough. There has been no attempt to have songs in the movie and it comes as a refreshing change.
Currently, Malayalam cinema outnumbers and outshines any other industry when it comes to thrillers. This whodunnit from Mokashi and co. is enough to give it a run for its money.
Vaalvi means termites. The term has been used literally as well as figuratively to convey the meaning of how everything can be slowly but steadily destroyed from within. Be it human relations or your house. Do shield yourself from them and better to catch this ‘Vaalvi’ crawling on Zee5 with English subtitles.
Director: Paresh Mokashi
Cast: Anita Date, Swapnil Joshi, Subodh Bhave, and Shivani Surve