Cast: Prithviraj and Master Govardhan
Director: Dr Biju
Veettilekkulla Vazhi (The Way Home), written and directed by Dr Biju, is a delight to watch with its breathtaking imagery panning some of India’s most colourful and richly landscaped regions. The movie, which was recently shown at the Cairo International Film Festival, is a journey that a doctor (Prithviraj) undertakes in order to keep a promise he makes to a dying woman. Minutes before she dies, she pleads with him to unite her little son (Master Govardhan), living in a home in Kerala, with his father, Abdul Zuban Tariq, the head of a notorious terrorist group and mastermind behind a Delhi explosion. With the boy in tow, the Doctor begins his search for the extremist.
The movie weaves in and out of Kerala, Rajasthan and finally Ladakh, with the Doctor trying to find the elusive Tariq.
On the way, he and the boy meet and befriend several sympathisers of the Jihadi cause, each only too eager to help them because the issue is all about Tariq’s son.
The dreaded criminal is never shown, and violence is but fleetingly portrayed. Which is of course a very mature way of handling the subject. Most directors dwell on this at length, and Dr Biju not only keeps terrorism to a bare minimum, but also never loses sight of the fact that his is essentially a work about a man-and-child relationship. Which interestingly begins from an unlikely meeting between a doctor and a dying patient.
However, what is never convincing is why the doctor takes such a grave risk to restore a son to his father, particularly when the man’s means have been bloody and cruel. Also, he has been singularly responsible for the terrible tragedy in the Doctor’s own life. Besides, what if Tariq were to make the boy into another terrorist. These questions have been brushed aside or explained away too casually.
The story certainly falters here, and reveals lack of depth. The narrative often seems ponderous, the Doctor’s quest itself turning into a long journey with not enough happening to grip our attention. The players seem to be flitting in and out of the plot. And, while Prithviraj is fairly good in a not-much-to-do role, Govardhan disappoints. Obviously, very few helmers have been able to draw good performances from children. Dr Biju is not one among them.