Vaanku movie review: A prescient tale with hotchpotch take

Raziya is bright and ambitious. Being the university topper, she wants to enroll in Jawaharlal Nerhu university for further studies. But what sets a fire within her is the words from her teacher. All the students get curious enough as the teacher mentions how one should have a wish and fulfill it before leaving the college.

Raziya and her classmates decides to take it forward and do what they want to. But unlike her friends, Raziya's case is different.

Raziya's father Razak is too religious. When Raziya's friends come home and talk about her parents, her mother laments how there used to be a fun-filled time in their lives but being in the company of God and his people, everything has changed.

In an amazing scene when Razak disapproves his wife and daughter to wear colourful dresses, Razak's mother scoldes him and asks him to let live others with their own choices. 

The one-hour 48-minutes drama has some good moments but isn’t entirely sure of what it wants to say. It is entertaining in its indecisiveness but lacks the punch that is expected from an exploration of such a potentially powerful theme.

When Raziya talks about her wish, her mother describes about a scene from her past and that a Vaanku made Raziya happy and peaceful. Inspite of being thoughtful, the film ends up being ambivalent.

Director Kavya Prakash and writer Shabna Muhammad has kept the movie neither entirely serious, nor entirely satirical, showing only strains of both.

In a scene, to critique the irrationality of faith, we are told about the story of a lizard who betrays a prophet and why they respect spiders. But there seems to be a hesitation in conveying the inner meaning and lacks objectivity.

The metaphorical textbook approach to adapting Unni R's story gets the ‘look’ right, but goes haywire translating it from book to screen.

Some of the noticeable visual strategies, for instance, the song which shows a spider in a web resembling Raziya's situation symbolically refers to freedom and equality.

Anaswara, as Raziya and Vineeth as Razak stand out. Felt that the relationship between the father and daughter could have been explored more. Other performers like Nandana, Gopika, Sarasa Ballussery manage to leave an impression. 

Inspite of the talented artists and interesting conceit, Vaanku needed better balance and bolder statement.

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