'Saudi Vellakka' will haunt you, if you are a bit sensitive. It is not the burden of a tragedy but the weight of a pure cathartic experience that will haunt you.
And you will have to thank the young filmmaker Tharun Moorthy for that experience which you rarely get from the screen these days. 'Saudi Vellakka', Moorthy’s second work after the much-acclaimed Operation Java, is arguably a notch above his debut film at least in terms of emotional quotient. It’s a beautifully crafted film about a group of ordinary people, who are failed by their ego and rescued by a sense of shared empathy.
The film kickstarts with the tone of a thriller as a newly transferred cop ventures out to issue court summons to a youngster involved in a long-pending case.
The initial tension is built perfectly as the character of Abhilash (Lukman) and his family and their anxiety are panned.
The case unravels in a long but engaging flashback. As Abhilash travels to Kochi from Bengaluru, the tone and the texture of the film undergoes a drastic transition. What started off as a thriller gradually becomes a fine humane drama with an old Muslim woman at its centre.
A fair share of intriguing and realistic court drama keeps Saudi Vellakka’s plot moving and touching. The subtle amount of situational humour keeps the emotional drama in balance. The character of Aisha, the poor old woman with an emotionally and financially struggling son, is the backbone of the film. She is characterised as a woman with a frozen face and Devi Varma has delivered an excellent performance. The character’s anger, helplessness, sense of guilt and struggle for survival rather oozes to life via Devi Varma’s realistic portrayal of a woman in distress. Sujith Shanker plays her son Sathar, an auto driver, who struggles to run his family. Sujith makes maximum use of his body language and mannerisms to convey the character’s agonies, but the wow factor in his previous roles seems to be missing this time. Binu Pappu does an excellent job as the local trade union worker and friend of Sathar while Gokulan plays the low-key lawyer with ease.
Scenes that touch your heart are the strength of the film but another round of trimming would have made it slick. The intended humour in some of the stretched sequences do not work. However, a profound climax, which reassures faith in humanity and compassion, compensates for the tiny flaws of Saudi Vellaka.