Last week I watched the Fahad Faasil starrer Malayalam movie ‘Varathan’ from the theatre. The hype that surrounded this movie before and after its release was so high that I had a huge expectation for it, and the movie actually did deliver and didn’t disappoint me. As I left the theatre, I even wanted the director to make a sequel to the movie. Then after a few days, few blogs reported that ‘Varathan’ was actually a plagiarized copy of the Hollywood classic ‘Straw Dogs’ which was released in 1971, starring the most talented actor Dustin Hoffman. I was a bit turned down by this news and then decided to watch ‘Straw Dogs’.
I watched the movie and ‘Straw Dogs’ is literally a classic; its genuine, real, entertaining and pure art. And ‘Varathan ‘ truly is an unofficial adaptation of ‘Straw Dogs’. The entire theme of both the movies is exactly the same. There are no elements in this movie which is unreal. The character development in the story is impeccably perfect. The audience can understand the emotional transformation of each lead character of the story, just by watching them. ‘Straw Dogs’ actually shows us an emotional roller coaster happening inside each lead character. The unpredictable nature of the actions taken by the characters during extraordinary situations in the story is what makes this movie a thriller.
‘Varathan’ really did justice to ‘Straw Dogs’ the movie, even though it didn’t do justice to the makers of ‘straw dogs’ by not giving credits to them.( Indian film industry often does this. Another “unofficial remake” recently happened in Mollywood was Ranam) Letting the plagiarism talk aside, when we compare the two movies, both of them are outstanding. It’s the unpredictable emotional nature of the lead characters during extraordinary situations that make ‘Straw Dogs’ an engaging thriller movie. The psychological depth in the movie is unfathomable. Each lead character in the movie, if analysed closely, has a very descriptive character sketch and the actors who played each role did great justice to it.’Varathan’ is truly a class movie in Mollywood standards. Amal Neerad should be given appreciation for experimenting and introducing new such genres in Mollywood (even though it existed in major other industries decades ago). Varathan is not as perfect and detailed as ‘Straw Dogs’ but it sure does entertain the audience more.
Amal Neerad made accurate and brilliant changes to the lead characters in the story to blend with the cultural standards of Kerala. Fahad Faasil’s character Aby in ‘Varathan’ and Dustin Hoffman’s character David in ‘Straw Dogs’ are similar, but David is more “real” than Aby. Fahad Faasil delivered an outstanding performance but Dustin Hoffman had more opportunity in ‘Straw Dogs’ to perform and he nailed it. The psychological journey happening inside the lead characters are different in both movies. In ‘Varathan’, the character’s psychology is almost predictable but in ‘Straw Dogs’, the audience will be baffled while seeing the psychological transformation of the characters.
Not everyone will be able to enjoy and understand ‘Straw Dogs’, but it surely is a piece of art every filmmaking aspirant must see and study. ‘varathan’ is genuine in its own way with little flaws, which is understandable. There are a few science-defying stunt and action scenes, but still, it looked pretty and worked with the audience. In simple terms, ‘Varathan’ is a ‘commercial Unofficial “Indianised” version’ of ‘Straw Dogs’.