If a movie with this title had released at a time when onions were selling at close to Rs.100 a kilo, then it would have automatically garnered a lot of attention. Now that the onion has gone back to its ordinary status, the film titled Vengayam will have to do only with its storyline and performances to do the trick at the box office.
Why would anyone name a film Vengayam? The Vengayam here is not the bulb that cost everyone a fortune not too long ago. The Vengayam here is the one which Periyar used so commonly while referring to matters that he considered trivial. Yes, Vengayam tries to tell us that some things are indeed trivial; they are only artificially hiked in importance for some people and by vested interests in order to make a living.
So, which social triviality does Vengayam deal with? Superstition! Of what kind? Well, you will have to find out for yourself. The film is about the crusade lead by a group of youngsters against people and groups who are trying hard to reinforce superstitious beliefs and practices in society.
If it was corruption in ‘Indian’, here it is superstition; no less an evil than corruption. The common man’s crusade against elements that are holding back the society is a theme that lends to wonderful possibilities in film making. But, it is up to the film maker to make the most of those possibilities. Of course, resources are an issue and budget is a constraint, but all these don’t end up as valid excuses for viewers in a theater.
To face the facts here, Vengayam has a strong premise, a script that holds promise and young talent which looks dependable, not to forget Sathyaraj in a key guest appearance. But, the end product looks underdone. The bright points however are the effective portrayal of archaic beliefs that still exist in our society, some very strong questions towards the end of the film which when raised in any social forum can give the ‘Godmen’ of our times a run for their money and a reminder that education is still to permeate to many levels of the society which is the main reason that these beliefs still exist.
Superstitions have been portrayed in different ways in our films. Vengayam however steers away from such a treatment. The film for most parts is grim and serious, which works against the basic requirement of cinema to entertain. Nor is the treatment good and gripping enough to earn the film its stripes as a tough drama or thriller. It ends up as an account of various events, all related to some form of superstition, and a climax with lots of strong dialogues.
However, only one factor puzzles us. When young men are up in arms against superstition, why would they wait for an auspicious time to carry out their mission; isn’t that a form of superstition in itself? Well, let’s overlook that.
As said above, a limited budget and resources have stopped Vengayam from being a full fledged feature film that would enlighten as well as entertain. But, that does not stop it from being a praiseworthy attempt at pointing out some of the deep rooted maladies in our society. It’s a pity that such an idea worth propagating has not been realized into a movie which will keep audiences hooked and get the message across in all its seriousness.
Verdict: More than just trivialities!