Vaashi Review: Not another courtroom drama trope
A complicated case comes in the way of an advocate couple who are apparently equally competitive and egoistic. Though they have vowed to keep their professional and personal space separate, the case starts to creep into their married life making things difficult for both of them.
Ebin (Tovino Thomas) and Madhavi (Keerthy Suresh) are young aspiring advocates who begin to have a liking for each other. While Ebin makes it as a public prosecutor with the help of his influential brother-in-law Madhavi still struggles to make a mark as an independent advocate. That is when a sensitive case of rape allegation comes their way. Ebin is assigned the victim’s case while Madhavi takes up the defense as the accused is her cousin.
“Rape under the promise for marriage”, is the case that is charged. Both Ebin and Madhavi dig in deep to find the truth of this allegation. As a courtroom drama that investigates consent, sexual harassment, and false allegations, Vaashi does make several points without taking any solid stand. But how sensible are these points that the movie tries to make? Not much I would say. Though the film makes a commendable effort to deal with this sensitive topic, it does not really get into the crux of the matter or understand the real-world scenario where such an incident may happen. While several #MeToo cases go unreported and women fear to stand up for themselves, the points made by the film come across as vague and lack strength. However, Vaashi did work for me. There are several segments that makes the movie interesting and worth your time.
To start with, given the several recent courtroom dramas in Malayalam cinema that thrive on loud provocative, or inspiring narratives in the courtroom by the male lead, Vaashi does not confine to this trope. In a scene where the argument between Madhavi and Ebin heats up, the judge shuts them up saying that this is not a news channel for them to put on a show and asks them to use valid and reasonable legal points to make their case.
The female lead Madhavi taking up the case for the accused who is a male and Ebin, the male lead standing for the victim adds an interesting take to the narrative.
How the family members do not make a fuss about the inter-religious marriage of Ebin and Madhavi is also relaxing to watch. Though some family members have apprehensions about the union, it does not create many complications in their marriage.
Besides not being entirely reasonable with their take on the #Metoo cases, Vaashi also falters in giving Madhavi a proper character design. Though shown as someone who is assertive and independent, Madhavi just remains a self-proclaimed feminist who casually gives in to the uncalled wedding. She is more like a projection of empowered women from a masculine perspective.
Though the marriage of Ebin and Madhavi is at stake, the emotional depth of their relationship is not clearly shown. Nor is the struggle in their marriage or relationship been given much highlight. The professional ego arises and resolves without much tension or effort.
In Vaashi, what may seem like a false allegation is not treated as one. It is more like a case that investigates the degree of consent that stands reasonable in the scenario. Both the victim and the accused have their own perspectives about the matter which are explored in the film properly. This is one of the best things about the film.
The final shot of Vaashi gives a visual narrative to the dialog said by Ebin, “Nothing is black or white, everything is just grey. It is all about perspective”.
With some added exciting elements Vaashi proves to be a worth-watching courtroom drama that attempts to address a socially relevant subject through the eyes of an advocate duo.
Watch on Netflix
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