Those who have long lost the memories of their campus politics might get a whiff of how it is now by sitting through over 120 minutes of Varthamaanam, the film scripted by Aryadan Shoukath and directed by Sidhartha Siva. That the makers have minced no efforts in boldly portraying the socio-political atmosphere in the country in the light of a prestigious University campus is evident right from the start.
The narrative takes us through the events in the life of Faiza Sufiya, played by Parvathi Thiruvoth, from the day she joins the University to carry out a research on the campaigns of religious harmony led by freedom fighter Abdur Rahman during India's struggle for independence. it's the story of a free-spirited girl who has to face consequences for boldly upholding the tenets of human values.
The troubles and tribulations faced by certain sections among the students on the campus are highlighted through the campaigns spearheaded by students' union leader Amal, played by Roshan Mathew. Meanwhile, Faiza as well as other distraught students find a supportive face in the University faculty, Satheesh Poduval, essayed immaculately by Siddique.
The story, for the most part of the time, cruises ahead like a rudderless boat having nothing much to offer than the sloganeering against caste politics and verbose dialogues on pre-independence religious harmony and secularism. But after a certain point, it gathers steam and speeds ahead like a bullet.
The campus crowd, camaraderie, and skirmishes are portrayed brilliantly. But the realistic and extensive depiction of social issues overshadows several superb cinematic elements and hence stands the chance of being dubbed as documentation of evils entrenched in the society at present.
As a young timid researcher from Kerala in pursuit of certain historical facts, as part of her research in a noted University in Delhi, Parvathi has showcased an exceptional performance. Faiza is true to herself in her beliefs. Parvathi lets the character grow upon her quite naturally and attains uniqueness which is quite beautiful. Faiza is anxious and fearful but bold at the same time. She falters in her expressions initially but ultimately drives her point home with invincible power. She is naive as a person but her ideology has maxim-like glory and maturity. As a real-life human Faiza relates with all sorts of emotions and makes the campaign vociferous. Parvathy so magnificently maneuvers the role and does justice to the character of Faiza.
Giving ample support to the whole drama are Roshan Mathew, Dayn Davis, Siddique, and the rest of the ensemble cast. Music by Ramesh Narayanan and Hesham Abdul Wahab is enchanting and Manjari's voice elevates the melody.
There are many dialogues, which is in Hindi. However, subtitles might come in handy. Ideological differences may not keep movie lovers together in their opinion about the movie but Varthamanam might survive the test of time as a souvenir displaying the paradox of freedom struggle in the country, in the past as well as at present.