Vaashi review: This Keerthy-Tovino courtroom-based relationship drama is well-paced

Directed by actor Vishnu Raghav and starring Keerthy Suresh and Tovino Thomas as advocates, ‘Vaashi’ is tightly packed and has some lovely performances.

Vaashi does not drag, linger too much on the side stories, but gets straight to the point. The film, like the courtroom it is mostly set in, has much to tell in little time. Keerthy Suresh and Tovino Thomas, playing advocates, make it an interesting affair. It is not altogether a new theme – partners in life having to duel in the court. But the pace of the film and its treatment by Vishnu Raghav, an actor directing his first feature, is to be appreciated.

The introductions happen quickly enough – Tovino as Ebin Mathew, a struggling lawyer without an office, Keerthy Suresh as Madhavi Mohan, a junior advocate who is not taken seriously, and Baiju, in a wonderful performance, as a mentor to both of them. Except for a tad delay in the camera showing their faces, the lead characters enter the story without fuss, letting their personality come out in their reactions and short outbursts. Madhavi, you realise, is the more serious one, quite focused on her work, smiling little, and very expressive about women’s rights. Keerthy is wonderful here, subtlety appearing to be her forte. Ebin is more casual, taking things rather lightly, but selfish enough when it comes to work – a role almost tailor-made for Tovino.

From the title – which means obstinacy – you can guess where the story is leading. A case presents itself, and Ebin and Madhavi are fighting each other in court, one taking the petitioner’s side and the other that of the defence. Before that we are introduced to both their families, songs (music by Kailas Menon) used smartly to keep the story moving. There are no specially awkward scenes or created moments for the pair to express their feelings. It is allowed to come out in the flow of things, when an amusing tactic by Ebin to know Madhavi’s mind falls apart.

Watch: Trailer of the film

Madhavi comes across more and more as the career-focussed person, not quite ready for the speed at which their relationship quickly turns into marriage and the families get involved. Ebin, who has become a public prosecutor with the help of his brother-in-law (Rony David, in form), continues to be easy-going but tries to keep the family and everyone in the picture happy. So the wedding happens even as the case that has put them on opposite sides in court goes on spiritedly. You do wonder why they would go on with the wedding when they are so obviously at each other’s throats, making personal jibes in the courtroom. Despite Ebin’s continuous insistence that they keep the professional and personal strictly apart, the differences in court clearly seep into their life.

The script, perhaps deliberately, puts Madhavi, who has always been vocal about women’s rights, on the side of the accused in a case of rape, section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. Anu Mohan appears Madhavi’s client, accused of having sex with a woman after her to believe that they would get married. Ebin, who had once spoken about “poor men trapped wrongly in cases”, becomes the woman’s lawyer. It is perhaps a ploy to let you see how professional they both are, going against their convictions while fighting a case. Or else how competitive they are, wanting to win against the other more than anything else.

While the court scenes and the intermittent personal exchanges are rightly placed, they do not connect with you enough to make you root either of the lawyers, or care much for the outcome. The script, while well-paced, lacks the depth that can keep you glued, as court thrillers can. To be fair, it’s more a relationship drama than a thriller. Even in that case, the relationship and quick marriage, with one of them not even ready for it, seem rather hurried and unconvincing. It works as an interesting idea, paced well, scripted without drama, and peppered with some lovely performances.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organization may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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