Cast: Mammootty, Arjun, Sneha and Nasser
Director: D. Aravind
Rating: ** 1/2
D. Aravind’s Vande Matharam, true to its title, attempts to evoke patriotic zeal in a country that is now shamefully drowning in greed and corruption. With several recent multi-crore scams, including the Commonwealth Games and the Railways, now well above the water, the film begins with a footage of Gandhiji’s sacrificial marches and the burning Independence movement, and takes us to a short documentary on the pathetic plight of millions of India’s farmers. Perennial water shortage resulting in massive crop losses and crippling debts have forced farmers to end their lives or desert their fields and migrate to towns and cities. Screening this short, the Intelligence Bureau chief in Aravind’s bi-lingual work (Tamil and Malayalam) tells the men assembled in his office that the Government’s plan to unify the nation’s rivers from Kashmir to Kanyakumari is being targeted by terrorists. The inauguration of the scheme in Kanyakumari by the Prime Minister (Nasser) is to be disrupted, and the leaders there killed. The chief assigns the task of thwarting the extremist attack to dedicated officers, Gopikrishnan (essayed by Mammootty) and Anwar Hussain (Arjun).
The rest of Vande Matharam settles into the usual cops-chasing-terrorists mode, with the younger Arjun taking on the more daring, death-defying (and unbelievable) acts. There is one scene – that reminded me of martial arts movies from China and Hong Kong -- where he jumps from tree to tree in a virtual mid-air combat with the villain. They cannot step on the ground for it is heavily mined!
Mercifully, scriptwriter Karthik and Aravind let Mammootty act is age, and he stays out of much of the action, preferring to play the general behind the counter-terrorist operation, rather than the foot-soldier. Paced thrillingly with cutting-edge editing, the film could have won more stars had it steered clear of boring, age-old crowd-pulling gimmicks. With Sneha’s Nandini as Gopikrishnan’s wife bursting into a song with her hubby, and a couple of vulgar numbers later with starlets, Vande Matharam merely taunts us to bracket it with yet-another run-of-the-mill movie. Do we really need these awful distractions that push us away from what is undoubtedly a gripping plot?