Vadhandhi The Fable of Velonie review: SJ Suryah-starrer is a riveting small-town investigative thriller
Vadhandhi The Fable of Velonie review: It’s a show that feels exhausting in terms of pacing, but it’s worth the time invested as the pay-off is truly rewarding
Husband-wife filmmaker duo Pushkar-Gayatri have successfully championed the long-form narrative space with their shows. After the massive success of their first Amazon Prime series, Suzhal: The Vortex, the couple is back with their latest creation, Vadhandhi, another small-town thriller that’s centered on the killing of a young girl and the hunt for her killer. Created and directed by Andrew Louis, Vadhandhi is a riveting show that rarely dips in tension and makes excellent use of the milieu it is set in. It’s a show that feels exhausting in terms of pacing, but it’s worth the time invested as the pay-off is truly rewarding. Also read: Suzhal The Vortex creators Pushkar-Gayatri say show makes Broadchurch, Mare of Eastown's genre 'as Indian as possible'
The series opens with the mysterious death of young actor Mamtha, who is found dead on the sets of her latest film in Kanyakumari. As the news about her death spreads like wildfire, the film’s director, who is in the middle of a police investigation, is shocked to receive a phone call from Mamtha. Much to everyone’s surprise, Mamtha informs them that she’s absolutely fine and that the body they found on the set is of someone else. It is found out little later that the body is of a 17-year-old girl called Velonie, who belongs to an Anglo-Indian family. The case is quickly handed over to SI Vivek (SJ Suryah), hours before he’s all set to go on a family trip with his family. As Vivek digs deep into the investigation, he gets so obsessed with cracking the case that it affects his personal life. The more he learns about Velonie’s life, he’s convinced there’s more to it and the people around her have taken her for granted.
Vadhandhi is developed on the conundrum that lies travel faster than truth, especially in an era where news channels are more bothered about TRP ratings than anything. The writing plays a key role in making the show largely engrossing, particularly the use of Rashomon effect to present different and contradicting views of the same incident. With each episode, the show narrows down on a new suspect, only to deceive the viewer and it’s a tactic that strongly works in the show’s favour. The show parallelly, without ever getting in preaching mode, shifts the spotlight on the role of media in sensationalizing news for the sake of viewers' excitement. The show also talks about how judgmental we’ve become as a society, especially when it comes to how we view women. There’s also a sub-plot about politics and how power is used to twist the truth.
The casting plays one of the major roles in the show’s success. Every actor is appropriately cast and each one gets ample space to shine in their respective parts. SJ Suryah, who is widely popular for his over-the-top acting style, delivers a calm, subdued performance that’s so refreshing to watch. It’s unarguably one of his best performances. The biggest surprise in terms of casting comes in the form of Laila, who recently returned to acting with Tamil film Sardar almost after a decade. Playing an Anglo-Indian mother to a teenage daughter, Laila showcases her untapped potential in a role that’s one of the highlights of the show. Simon King’s music, especially the score for the title track, truly stands out and suits the overall mood of the show quite well.
Vadhandhi is a true-blue slow-burner. The small-town set up helps in making the narrative quite interesting as the story presents us with multiple suspects and this naturally piques the excitement of a viewer.
Web series: Vadhandhi
Director: Andrew Louis
Cast: SJ Suryah, Laila, Sanjana, Vivek Prasanna and Nassar