Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Sharmila Tagore, John Abraham Anusha Dandekar
Director: Mahesh Manjrekar
Music Director: ——-
Synopsis: Potentially excellent film is let down by a dull script and sluggish pacing
Virruddh starts off as a tale of utter simplicity. Vidyadhar Patwardhan (Amitabh Bachchan) lives a retired life with his wife Sumitra (Sharmila Tagore), with every day life being punctured by the bantering and yet loving couple taking loving potshots at each other and living for the weekly phone call to their only son Amar (John Abraham), living abroad. Life teeters on the mundane and the first half simply takes you on a journey of the idyllic life that is shared by the Patwardhans. Amar also returns home with a half-baked foreign girlfriend (Anusha Dandekar) and this family is complete…until one fateful night, the night before Amar’s birthday, Amar witnesses a crime and is murdered when he goes to help.
Silence enters the lives of the Patwardhans but fortunately, we do not see them regress but stand united in their grief over the loss of their child. However, justice remains elusive with the corrupt politicians and policemen proceeding to paint Amar as a drug dealer who was murdered because of his involvement in drugs and not because of his involvement in a crime perpetuated by a politician’s son. The injustice of this frustrates the elderly couple and there appears to be nothing which provides solace to the bereaved parents except for the support of neighbours including Ali (Sanjay Dutt) the mechanic and their neighbours. Vidyadhar then decides to take matters up himself to seek justice for the death of his son and to clear his name of the slur as a result of the machinations of the corrupt politicians and police officers. However, the final dénouement leaves much to be desired. When Vidyadhar takes to the gun and decides on a confrontation with his son’s murderer, you reel with disbelief at where the film has ended up and how the script has decided to resolve the trauma of injustice faced by the Patwardhans.
Viruddh is strong in performances but low on substance. The setting up of the idyllic life shared by the Pathwardhans takes up much too much screen time and whilst there is a degree of charm to this, it simply trundles along at a rather slow pace with little happening. Amar’s death just before interval should have provided the film with its dramatic base from which to build into a strong hard hitting film. But the film falters and the fault lies in the ordinary and somewhat clichéd script. It’s the same old story of corruption and the system and the resolution to the Patwardhan’s angst is resolved, if one can say that, in a most perfunctory way. It simply does not work and robs the film of any dramatic power that it may have had.
Manjrekar is therefore hampered by his script. No doubt, the seed for this film had tremendous potential but this is squandered with a script that sets the scene and then finds it has nowhere to go. His pacing of the film is also sluggish and without the obligatory songs littering the film, the film feels much longer than it should have been.
Viruddh’s strength lies in a superlative performance from Bachchan. In the autumn of his career, Bachchan simply seems to get better and better with each passing release. Sharmila Tagore makes a welcome return to the screen after the risible Dadi Maa portrayal in Mann. Here she plays herself…no theatrics, woman devoted to husband and son. She has no melodramatic lines and eases into the role of the supportive wife with the grace that one expects of her. John Abraham has screen presence and brings a natural charm to Amar. Anusha fits the bill of the daughter-in-law. Sanjay Dutt, in much too small role a role to make a difference, almost makes a huge difference.
On the whole, a major disappointment.