Liquor consumes Murali, rather than the other way around, as it is with most people. Every waking hour is spent thinking about the way to get his next drink, without which he just cannot function. Once, he sells even his daughter’s study table to buy a drink while another time he is shown drinking a whole bottle of cough syrup to get high. Vellam, a colloquial usage to refer to drunkards, is this man’s story.
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Filmmaker G. Prajesh Sen, who made his debut with Captain, yet again teams up with Jayasurya for Vellam. Said to be inspired from a real-life story, it chronicles how Murali (Jayasurya), who becomes a burden for his family, and the society around him, comes back from the brink and rebuilds his life.
Quite a few films have been made on people struggling with drinking problems, most recently the Pirthviraj-starrer Paavada. Much has been said about it already that there is little to add. Vellam also does not really say anything new, but tries to go much deeper into the issue, portraying the sheer helplessness of someone wanting to get over addiction, and that of the people around him. It does not have any parallel narratives taking the attention away from the drunkard.
But after a point, the scenes of a drunk Murali lying on the road or having a tiff with his family becomes repetitive. It seemed the director wanted to drill in the message and make the viewer feel the drunkard’s plight. Editing out some of these would have helped in cutting down the run-time of two-and-a-half hours. If not for Jayasurya’s earnest performance, these parts would have become even more of a drag. He gives it his all as the man who cannot imagine life without alcohol, even crawling on the floor and licking drops of spilt spirit. For Samyuktha Menon too, the role of Murali’s wife gives ample scope to perform.
Some of the scenes, like the one involving a missing gold ring during a family function and the suspicion turning to the good-at-heart protagonist, were reminiscent of quite a few other ones we have watched before. Sequences like these seemed to be just there to milk some emotion. Whether due to the compulsions to stick to the real-life story or a reluctance to stray into uncharted territory, there is nothing out of the box here. The film stays afloat strictly on the strength of Jayasurya’s performance.