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Viruddh... Family Comes First (Review)

  Another Good Indian Film I Can Recommend

Viruddh... Family Comes First (2005) is a very unusual film in that it's like two totally different films. The first portion is lighthearted and fun--the second extremely sad and cynical. And, this final portion will do little to encourage tourism in India--particularly to Mumbai!

When the film begins, Vidhyadar (Amitabh Bachchan) is sitting in a jail cell--refusing to eat. The police inspector says he feels guilt every time Vidhyadar comes to his office or looks at him. Why? What immediately follows is NOT an explanation of this short prologue but instead is a surprisingly warm and lighthearted segment about Vidhyadar's life before some incident occurred--and what that incident is you'll just have to wait to see. This sweet portion of the film concerns the man and his relationship with his wife. They obviously love each other and their life is quite predictable but nice. Their son, Amal, lives lives in London and helps to support his retired parents. However, you know that Amal will soon die, as his ghost narrates portions of the movie!

The film changes when Amal returns home for a visit. Surprisingly, he brings along his girlfriend, Jenny, and he's worried that his parents may not approve of this relationship. However, they all become fast friends and life is looking just fine. But, when Amal just happens to be in the wrong place soon after his marriage, he is murdered and everything is turned upside down. It isn't just because of the murder but because the savage killer is well-connected and his father's influence manages to completely subvert justice. It's the police themselves who not only help the killer escape justice but also to ruin Amal's reputation in order to get the murderer off for his crimes. Vidhyadar's faith in the system is destroyed and he then decides to take it upon himself to receive justice. What this is and how he does it is something you'll need to see for yourself.

There is a lot to admire about the film. Bachchan's acting (as usual) is superb and it's easy to see why he's probably the most beloved and famous Bollywood actor today. His emotional range is astoundingly good. In fact, the acting is excellent all around. Also, the direction and production values are generally quite nice. The story is also very compelling and your heart breaks for the parents--as you feel really connected with them.

On the other hand, there are a few problems which prevent an even higher score. The biggest is that the ending, while satisfying to watch, is awfully difficult to believe. I'll say no more--you just need to see it to know what I mean. Additionally, I think the use of slow-motion was a bit over-used. Still, a super-impressive film and one that cannot help but grab your heart. And a great example of an Indian film that is every bit as good as most of the films coming out of Hollywood.

Also, for non-Indians, there needs to be a bit of an explanation for one small bit in the film. The father's attending a meeting where folks stand in the park just to laugh hysterically with their friends IS a real thing. Mira Nair shows this in her made for TV film The Laughing Club of India and these clubs have been promoted for good physical and emotional health.

Grade: A-

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