Vellaripattanam review: Manju Warrier & Soubin Shahir shine in this political satire

Though critical of major political parties in Kerala, the film doesn’t offer any exceptional moments to the audience.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published:Mar 24, 2023

Mahesh Vettiyar's Vellaripattanam movie
A pure entertainer!
3

Vellaripattanam (Malayalam)

  • Cast: Manju Warrier, Soubin Shahir, Salim Kumar, Veena Nair, Pramod Velliyanad, Krishna Sankar, Sabareesh Varma, Ramesh Kottayam, Suresh Krishna, and Saji Sebana
  • Director: Mahesh Vettiyar
  • Producer: Full On Studios
  • Music: Sachin Shankor Mannath
  • Runtime: 2 hours 20 minutes

Director Mahesh Vettiyar’s Vellaripattanam (Utopian State) is the latest addition to the list of comedy dramas released in the recent past in Malayalam. But this one is a political satire.

Nevertheless, political satires often come with a set of problems. There are chances for them to be apolitical or, sometimes, favour a party. This happened before in films like Oru Mexican Aparatha, which promoted a political party.

However, Vellaripattanam is a new-age Sandesham (1994). The flick is set in the era of smartphones, memes and hashtags.

It is highly critical of all the three major factions present in Kerala now.

Manju Warrier and Soubin Shahir appear as KP Sujatha and KP Suresh respectively. They are the members of a political party that is referred to in the film as the Indian National Congress.

vellaripattanam malayalam movie

A poster of ‘Vellaripattanam’ Malayalam movie. (ManjuWarrier4/Twitter)

Sujatha and Suresh are always at loggerheads and are in two different groups inside the party.

The story revolves around an imaginary village Chakkarakudam, the local body elections and the petty politics inside the political parties operating there.

Focuses on recent trends

Vellaripattanam mainly focuses on the changes in the criticism of political parties after the advent of social media.

There are references in the movie about hashtags, trolls and other tech modes often used to tarnish a politician’s image.

A viewer who is aware of the current political scenario can connect to the many instances mentioned in the flick.

Director Mahesh Vettiyar takes the liberty to criticise even the food habits of politicians. He even dares to say that Left parties are embracing corporates.

Vellaripattanam is critical of the Congress party, right-wing Hindu parties, and even Islamist extremists. There are scenes where the director portrays the friendship between Islamist parties and Hindu parties.

Also Read: Sengalam web series review

The curious case of the “Cow” worshipped as a God is shown sarcastically.

At the same time, it is critical of the Left party members who keep photos of Gods behind Karl Marx’s picture while claiming to be atheists.

The film also has a reference to how political parties take advantage of a death of a person from a poor family.

It also mentions the resort politics that happened in Rajasthan and Karnataka during the earlier elections. Indeed, the makers include the resort politics for a local body election which makes for an interesting episode.

The study classes of the Left parties and Salim Kumar’s role (Kunhi Kannan) as an expert in these studies are entertaining but superficial, too.

Family and politics

Family and politics also get importance in Vellaripattanam. Both Sujatha and Suresh are ambitious in their political careers.

However, Sujatha has an upper hand in the script. This seems intentional as Manju Warrier is playing the role. She is described by her father as a shrewd politician.

vellaripattanam movie

Soubin Shahir and Manju Warrier in ‘Vellaripattanam’. (ManjuWarrier4/Twitter)

Her father, a Gandhian, is a politician who follows ethics.

Suresh is not able to win over his sister Sujatha who is an efficient Panchayat member. Hence, he switches to his rival party to attain power.

His efforts to win elections and the way he manages to win a Panchayat seat make the movie a fun ride.

On the contrary, Sujatha is a wise person. She knows how to handle a situation and, as mentioned before, is a shrewd politician.

According to the narrator (voiceover), she takes revenge on many of her co-party workers who betray her.

Her ambitions are similar to that of Mammachan’s (played by Biju Menon) in the 2014 film Vellimoonga (Barn Owl).

Also Read: Parundhaaguthu Oor Kuruvi movie review

When compared to the 1984 movie Panchavadi Palam (Panchavadi Bridge) which is considered the best political satire in Malayalam, Vellaripattanam covers many issues.

And that is a real problem. Had there been a particular theme that has to be criticised, the movie would have fared much better.

Performances

a poster of vellaripattanam

A poster of ‘Vellaripattanam’. (ManjuWarrier4/Twitter)

Manju Warrier and Soubin Shahir are good to watch. But there aren’t any challenging moments for them to perform.

Suresh Krishna as Alex is back to his days in the 2000s when he did negative roles.

Pramod Velliyanad as a local political leader has an important role. He was seen as a magistrate in the recently-released Saudi Vellakka.

Sabareesh gets a pivotal role in the movie as Baburaj, a young party worker who is against old traditions.

The cinematography and music departments are just decent.

Verdict

Vellaripattanam is critical of major political parties in Kerala. The movie isn’t message-oriented but is purely made to entertain the audience.

(Views expressed are personal.)