Adithya Varma Movie Review: In the opening scene of Adithya Varma, we see an old woman (Leela Samson) talking about the obsessive nature of her grandson with pride to her friends. This scene gives an inkling into why Adithya Varma (Dhruv Vikram) is the man he is. His grandmother is just one among the people in his inner circle who have enabled his arrogant behaviour since childhood and turned him into the angry, rebellious, possessive and abusive young man who cannot take rejections.
In his introduction scene, we see Adithya getting frisky with a young woman. But before they can have sex, the woman’s fiance knocks on the door. While the woman, who had been a wilful participant until then, stops him, in a momentary fit, the enraged Adithya threatens her to undress at knife point. Director Gireesaaya stages this scene in such a way that the power that has gone off in the house acts as a visual metaphor. It’s almost as if the switch inside Adithya’s
head has gone off, bringing the darkness inside him to the surface. But then, the power comes back, and Adithya comes back to his senses. What follows next establishes his mental state. He desperately wants to get physical with a woman, but when he realises that might not be possible, he cools himself off by putting ice in his groin.
Adithya Varma is the remake of the Telugu film Arjun Reddy (which was recently remade in Hindi as well — Kabir Singh) and this opening stretch — which glorifies the acts of the protagonist and tries to project them as badass and cool (“unconventional mindset” and “free-spirited” are some of the terms that characters in the film use to describe him) — makes you realise that the criticism that the films have invited are valid. But thankfully, this Tamil version also sets right, or at least, softens, some of the problematic aspects of the original.
The narrative switches between these episodes of Adithya’s self-destructive behaviour and the past, where, he, as a house surgeon, falls in love at first sight when he sees Meera (Banita Sandhu), a demure fresher who has joined his college in Mangalore. But unlike in Arjun Reddy, here, Meera’s intentions are clear to us right from the start. While Adithya came across as someone imposing himself on a hapless girl in the original, here, we see that Meera is as interested in him as he is in her. Unlike Shalini Pandey, whose sad eyes made the character’s acquiescence ambiguous, Banita plays Meera with a shy smile, clearly conveying that Meera is interested in this relationship as much as Adithya. There is real chemistry between her and Dhruv, and the two young actors make us buy into the madness in their characters and in this strange romance.
Meanwhile, Adithya’s life keeps spiralling out of control in the present as he obsesses over the failure of his romance, which has led to Meera being forcefully married to another man by her caste-conscious father (Achyuth Kumar). Even as he immerses himself into alcohol and drugs, his family (his elder brother) and friends (his college friend, superbly played by Anbu Thasan) rally around him and try to bring him back to normalcy, but will there be light at the end of this personal suffering?
Given its troubled production, there were doubts if the film might be any good, but Gireesaaya delivers a well-made, if overly faithful, remake with Adithya Varma. The film is as intense as the original, with a lead performance that suggests that we might be witnessing the birth of a star. Dhruv Vikram comes up with a performance that captures Vijay Deverakonda’s intense and raw act from the original note for note, but there is an assuredness and honesty here that makes us appreciate it rather than dismiss it just as mimicry.