Vimanam: A Turbulent Ride Worth Taking

The spine of “Vimanam”, Samuthirikani’s character and the warmth that the father-son duo share hold the film together.

The one-line story of Siva Prasad Yanala’s Vimanam is about how far a parent can go in fulfilling the wish of their offspring. In this case, it is about a single father and his young son.

The film primarily banks on the emotional bond that the two characters share.

A major portion of the story of Vimanam takes place in the vicinity of the old Begumpet airport of Hyderabad in early 2008. This is the period before the present Shamshabad airport was set up. This setting isn’t merely functional but also works as a character in itself.

Synopsis

Veerayya (Samuthirakani) lives in a colony near Begumpet airport and looks after a “Sulabh Shauchalaya” (public toilets complex).  He is someone who always looks at the brighter side of things.

Though physically disabled, Veerayya is a self-sufficient man who rides a tricycle. He cleans and manages the facility of a community toilet.

His son Raju (Master Dhruvan) is obsessed with both aeroplanes and flying. Raju’s biggest dream is to get on an aeroplane and fly high in the sky. He constantly keeps talking about it.

On many occasions, he keeps running to the airport compound and tries to peep through the crevices.

The life of Veerayya and Raju revolves around these things and some neighbours also play an important part. These include cobbler Koti (Rahul Ramakrishna), auto driver Daniel (Dhanraj), and sex worker Sumati (Anasuya Bharadwaj).

Vimanam takes a happy turn when Veerayya is informed of his son clearing the Sainik School entrance test. Clearing this test is a big thing for Raju.

When everything seems to be going well a tragedy strikes. Raju suddenly faints and is rushed to a hospital.

The doctor reveals devastating news to Veerayya about his son’s health. The rest of the story is about what happens to Raju and whether Veerayya fulfils his son’s dream of flying.

Brilliant characterisation

The spine of Vimanam is how Siva Prasad Yanala has written the character of Samuthirikani.

As earlier said, Veerayya is someone who always looks at the brighter side of things. This aspect has been brought out well by the director.

There are some nice touches that the debut director brings to this familiar tale. Chief among them is how he treats the disability of the protagonist.

His fighting spirit makes him endearing to the audience. There are some wonderful moments which show the warmth that the father and son share, particularly in the first half. The bond between them is the glue that holds the film together.

Shiva Prasad Yanala also deserves credit for how he has written the character of Anasuya Bharadwaj’s Sumati.

Sumati is unapologetic about what she does. She has an innate distrust towards men and treats them only as customers. There is also an important dialogue where Veerayya says that Sumati is not earning money by cheating anyone.

Emotional moments

The director has also created some solid emotional moments that linger in the viewers’ minds for a long time. Yes, some of it is manipulative. But still, it is difficult not to be moved by the situations that Veerayya goes through.

The subplot between Koti and Sumati starts in a lighter vein but there are some nice touches to this subplot as well.

The reason behind Sumati becoming a sex worker is a familiar one. But Anasuya Bharadwaj makes it work with her wonderful performance. She particularly shines in the scene where she bursts out and pours her feelings towards Rahul Ramakrishna’s character.

Weak points

The landing of Vimanam’s first half is quite smooth, but the cracks begin to appear in the second half.

There are some scenes which could have been easily chopped down on the editing table.

One of them is when Veerayya is suspected of stealing and beaten mercilessly by a cop. This scene is meant to make you more sympathetic towards Veerayya.

However, given his physical condition and the circumstances it comes across as more emotional manipulation.

Similarly, there is a scene involving a bunch of rich guys in the most clichéd manner. It is high time that filmmakers stop stereotyping the offspring of rich parents.

Climax

Vimanam‘s climax is also hugely problematic. The viewers are well aware that the son isn’t going to survive for long.

As expected, he does die in the flight but there is a double tragedy in the form of Veerayya also dying.

Two deaths coming one after another becomes difficult to digest for the audience. The ideal ending would have been Veerayya working with and taking care of other children.

Performances

Both Samuthirakani and Master Dhruvan are terrific in their respective parts.

So far, Samuthirakani has mostly featured as a villain in big-budget Telugu movies like Bheemla Nayak (2022), Sarkaru Vari Paata (2022), etc.

But here, the actor plays a character that is vastly different from his previous outings. He does a fantastic job of portraying different shades of Veerayya.

Master Dhruvan also delivers a nuanced performance and makes you root for Raju.

Technical crafts

There is also a certain authenticity to the way the slum has been presented in Vimanam. It has that required rustic feel starting from the body language of the dwellers.

Cinematographer Vivek Kalepu deserves appreciation for how he captures the slum through his lens. The music by Charan Arjun goes well with the flow of the film.

Final take

Despite some contrived melodrama, Vimanam is a welcome break from the usual high masala cinema.

(Views expressed are personal.)

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