Vakuppu (The Clause, 2023): A Chronicle of fortuity

Dipankar Sarkar provides a comprehensive analysis on the Short Film "Vakuppu"

Dec 28, 2023 - 08:15
Dec 28, 2023 - 08:16
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Vakuppu (The Clause, 2023): A Chronicle of fortuity
Vakuppu, a short film directed by Jayaraj R., is based on a short story by Abhishek SS, who also crafted the screenplay. The story is set within the confines of a police station in a quaint town in Kerala and captures the essence of the entire event transpiring within a few intense hours. In a whimsical twist of fate, Chandran (Siju Chandran), an accountant who resides in a rental house on Chembankuzhi Lane, finds himself caught up in an unexpected situation. With his wife eight months pregnant and hankering for mutton, Chandran heads to the market to satisfy her cravings. However, a peculiar turn of events leads him into a predicament, landing him in the police station. The plot thickens as a conflict ensues between Chandran and Senior Civil Police Officer Shankara Pillai (James Elia), who harbours an old score to settle with the accountant.
The short film begins with a message chiming on the police walkie-talkie, seamlessly syncing with Chandan's mobile phone ringtone. The caller is none other than his wife. So, right from the outset, the filmmaker strategically underscores the significance of the woman, who becomes the catalyst for the ensuing dramatic tension. Though absent from appearing onscreen, her invisible presence intricately weaves itself into the fabric of the story, orchestrating pivotal moments and steering the unfolding events with a profound impact. This emphasizes the careful and thoughtful construction of the narrative, illustrating the attention to detail in how each element is placed and timed, and demonstrating a purposeful approach to storytelling. The filmmaker skillfully intertwines seriousness and humour throughout the narrative. While the station writer is busy filing the FIR, Shankara comments wryly that individuals who can't distinguish between dogs and humans are the ones who end up joining the police force. This moment introduces a layer of irony, adding a touch of jocularity to the otherwise serious context of the police station scene. The judicious blend of these contrasting elements contributes to the film's richness, providing both depth and entertainment for the audience. 
Furthermore, there is a notable shift in Shankara's demeanour as he changes his police uniform for civilian attire. This transformation marks a turning point, breaking the ice and prompting him to engage in conversation with Chandran. Initially attempting to intimidate the hapless soul, this change in approach serves as a symbolic gesture within the narrative. It signifies a departure from the rigid confines of authority, allowing for a more human connection to emerge and revealing a layer of complexity in Shankara's character. In terms of their performances, both actors offer befitting portrayals. Siju Chandran, embodying the young man facing guilt, exudes a submissive charm in his expressions yet demonstrates vocal assertiveness when required. On the other hand, James Elia, as the police officer, breathes vitality into the authoritative character with emotion. His capacity to encapsulate the intricacies of his character lends an authentic layer to the film, enhancing its overarching effect. Elia's nuanced performance earned him well-deserved recognition, clinching the Best Actor award at the Jio MAMI Film Festival in 2023.
*****

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