There’s a bitter aftertaste when Vasuvum Saravananum Onna Padichanvanga ends. The kind you get when your coffee has gone a little too cold; a floating film of dirty brown milk fat that tells you it is no good.
I’m pedantic when it concerns coffee. A little sugar, a little milk, some nice, fresh brew – all decanted just so. Otherwise, I gag.
Too milky? Gag. Too sugary? Gag. Not the right temperature? Gag. God forbid if I take a distracted swallow – the horrible aftertaste would linger long after, which no amount of water-sloshing can cure.
VSOP forces that bad coffee down the throat, and expects lip-smacking appreciation. What’s worse? It does get the appreciation. The theatre erupts at every sexist one-liner that Santhanam spews.
There’s fat-shaming, there’s unsavoury name-calling, there’s misogynist, casteist crap and every fucking thing under the sun that you wouldn’t want in a movie. Or anywhere else. Vidyullekha Raman – who plays friend to the leading lady (Tamannaah) has the short end of the stick. She’s called Kung Fu Panda and a lot of other unpleasant things that I would rather not want documented – though, to her credit, she is unflinching. She takes it all in her stride, and acts the part: that of being cowed when Santhanam and Arya repeatedly harass her in the guise of humour. What I would have loved to see? Vidyullekha’s steely determination put to good use: with a few well-aimed punches. After all, what good is a Kung Fu Panda if it (not mixing up pronouns, mind) doesn’t give back in kind?
Santhanam strides onto the screen with a grim sense of poker-faced purpose. As many punches as he can pack in a sentence. Who cares if it’s offensive? Santhanam doesn’t. As long as he gets those laughs, and as many appreciative whoops, he is content. Well-pleased with himself. And in the process, he takes nasty digs at everyone. A doctor’s big belly is called an ‘air-bag’, a woman is called a ‘chalk-piece’ because she’s fair, and when Arya pretends to fall in love with Vidyullekha, he says, “malai maadri irukkura ungala, kadal alavu pudichirikku.” And then, the theatre erupts again.
The tale of Vasu and Saravanan is an extraordinary one; Vasu decides to get married, but his wife-to-be doesn’t like Saravanan – so Vasu decides to get Saravanan married: that way it would be quite easy to sever the friendship, see?
Saravanan and Vasu also devise ‘interviews’ for the other’s wife. With preposterous questions that go: What would you do if you do not get along with his mother?
And when Tamannaah protests at this, she is shouted down in an instant. Much before Santhanam or Arya could react, the guy beside me hollers: Kelambu di!
That takes my breath away.
I’ve seen and felt covert sexism, I’ve read about it, but this is as brutal an encounter as can be – he is sitting right next to me, this twenty-something lad with a few wisps of hair on his face, hungrily devouring all the wrong lessons in manhood. His friends are screaming themselves hoarse. They love it. They approve of it. They rehash those awful dialogues when we break.
The women they have come with are all coy smiles. To them, this is endearingly funny. Clearly, they are in college, but what are they learning?
Santhanam continues his tirade blithely till the last moment – emboldened along the way by the laughs he knows he would definitely be getting.
Then, Vishal joins the fray. Women are like beer, he begins.
I tune out. I have heard enough this century.
The Vasuvum Saravananum Onna Padichavanga Review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have an advertising relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.