One of the most important aspects that distinguishes Tamil films is its willingness to explore societal issues, even in comedies. The industry has always done this, and Venky Atluri’s Vaathi (also released in Telugu as ‘Sir’) is another example.
Details about Dhanush’s film Vaathi is about the right to education does poorly
Vaathi is the first Tamil film directed by Venky Atluri, whose Telugu debut, Tholi Prema (2018), was a major success. Vaathi is highly awaited because it marks actor Dhanush’s comeback to the action genre after two duds (Maaran and Jagame Thandhiram).
Despite having a stellar (though tried and tested multiple times) plot that could have helped Atluri create something as topical and entertaining as Pa Ranjith’s Kaala (2018) or Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Master (2021), Vaathi demonstrates that, at the end of the day, a tight script is the only thing that actually works.
Vaathi, which is set primarily in the late 1990s, addresses a problem that is still relevant 75 years after India gained independence from British colonial rule: how pupils from disadvantaged social and economic backgrounds are denied the right to an education.
The film begins in the present, with three young adults struggling with their academics discovering a box of ancient video tapes once owned by one of their grandfathers. They come upon film of a young man teaching maths in a simple manner while sifting over the contents of the cassettes, presuming it’s porn. They decide to search down the teacher in order to receive tuition. Their hunt for the teacher leads them to a District Collector, who, upon viewing the tapes, smiles with pride and claims to have been the teacher’s student. The camera pans to a portrait hanging on the wall of his office as he speaks.
Bala sir, that’s him, the Vaathi!
The film then shifts to a flashback in which Balamurugan (Dhanush) is introduced as a junior lecturer at Thirupathi Educational Institutions. Despite the fact that his opening scene contains a fight, the choreography is completely poor.
Balamurugan is soon hired as a full-time teacher in Sozhavaram, a small village on the border of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. This occurs after Srinivasa Thirupathi (Samuthirakani), the president of the private schools’ association and the head of Thirupathi Educational Institutions, offers a ‘helping hand’ to the failing government schools by agreeing to send some teachers from private schools to their state-owned counterparts. Thirupathi, a man who runs educational institutions only for financial benefit, moves to prevent the government from enacting a fee regulation bill, sending a slew of ‘below average,’ ‘underqualified’ teachers to government schools. But, for Balamurugan, who is oblivious of his boss’s strategy, this is a chance to prove himself and grow in life.
The film then takes us to Sozhavaram, where children do not attend school and instead work menial jobs to support their families. The film goes on to portray Bala sir’s efforts to educate all children and his opposition to Thirupathi in order to ensure that his students receive the same high-quality education as the rich children.
Although having a decent plot and a cast of outstanding actors, including Dhanush, Samuthirakani, Samyuktha, Tanikella Bharani, Aadukalam Naren, Praveena, and Hareesh Peradi, the film fails almost everywhere due to terrible scripting. Scenes intended to be thought-provoking and inspirational fall flat, as do the dialogues.