Had someone asked the protagonist of Vimanam how far he would go to fulfil his son’s wishes, he would have replied, ‘till the very end’. The Telugu-Tamil bilingual written and directed by Siva Prasad Yanala narrates a story that hinges heavily on the bond between a single father and his young son. It stems from a space of earnestness in wanting to show that love can transcend all odds. Differently-abled Veerayya’s (Samuthirakani) efforts to fulfil his son Raju’s (master Dhruvan) wish of an air journey encounters multiple hurdles. The film has segments that can leave the audience teary-eyed. But as the odds keep getting stacked against the father-son duo, the narrative gets contrived, emotionally manipulative and feels at least a few decades old.
A sizeable portion of the Telugu version of Vimanam happens in a locality in the vicinity of the old Begumpet airport in Hyderabad in early 2008, just before the opening of the larger airport in Shamshabad. The period setting makes it feasible to tell a story of a boy who keeps gazing at aircraft from the crevices of a wall in the neighbourhood of the airport.
Cast: Samuthirakani, master Dhruvan, Rahul Ramakrishna, Anasuya Bharadwaj
Direction: Siva Prasad Yanala
Music: Charan Arjun
Storyline: A differently-abled father with limited financial resources wants to fulfil his son’s wishes of air travel against mounting odds. Time is running out.
Veerayya’s characterisation is the spine of the film. Siva Prasad presents him as a man who looks at the brighter side of things and never lets his handicap come in the way of being self-sufficient. He drives a tricycle, cleans and mans a community toilet facility and hopes that his son will have a better future. The initial portions of the film are peppered with day-to-day incidents that show the warm bond between the father and the son, with the boy being empathetic to his father’s condition.
The story focuses primarily on the boy’s growing, single-minded obsession with flights and how the father feels the need to make his wish come true. Soon, the narrative treats this storyline like a video game and places multiple obstacles in Veerayya’s journey. Time is also running out.
In the second hour, the story gets increasingly darker. Veerayya’s spirit of survival comes to the fore but the narrative also begins to get increasingly contrived. If Vimanam was intended to be a humble attempt at something on the lines of The Pursuit of Happyness, the story needed fresh tropes and better writing. Samuthirakani stays utterly focussed and portrays the father’s emotions with all sincerity and child actor Dhruvan matches it with his disarming innocence. But that isn’t enough.
The subplot involving Koti (Rahul Ramakrishna), a cobbler, and sex worker Sumathi (Anasuya Bharadwaj) sticks out like a sore thumb. Though their story ends on a good note, the occasional innuendos and the camera exploitatively lingering on Anasuya seems out of place. Mottai Rajendran appears in a brief role that is more silly than funny. The subplot involving an auto driver (Dhanraj), his wife and son fares much better.
The emotional drama of Vimanam might have its heart in the right place and leaves the audience teary-eyed. But then, the question also remains on whether it had to be so predictable and dated by at least a few decades.
Vimanam is currently running in theatres.