Is 'hitmaker' Vineeth Sreenivasan's magic fading? The shift in the multi-talented filmmaker's movies

In 2010, several major films featuring prominent stars were released, including ‘Cocktail,’ ‘Kaaryasthan,’ and ‘Happy Husbands,’ all of which were hits. However, another notable film debuted that year from a first-time director with a debutant cast. This film was ‘Malarvadi Arts Club,’ directed by Vineeth Sreenivasan. The movie was a big hit, especially among young audiences, and it paved the way for the careers of actors like Nivin Pauly and Aju Varghese. Vineeth, who began his career as a playback singer in 2003 and made his acting debut in the 2008 movie ‘Cycle,’ found success with ‘Malarvadi Arts Club’ and went on to direct many other successful Malayalam films.

In 2012, Vineeth Sreenivasan released his next film, ‘Thattathin Marayathu,’ which became one of the biggest grossers in Malayalam cinema that year, cementing Nivin Pauly’s image as a young and vibrant romantic hero. From then until his latest release, ‘Varshangalkku Shesham,’ Vineeth has established himself as a bankable director in the Malayalam film industry.
While ‘Varshangalkku Shesham’ was successful at the box office, it faced considerable criticism on social media after its OTT release, with many viewers finding it cringe-worthy and accusing it of nepotism.

His previous release, ‘Hridayam,’ also faced a minor backlash for similar reasons but was still regarded as a good movie. However, from delivering promising films like ‘Malarvadi Arts Club’ and ‘Thira,’ one might wonder: has something changed in Vineeth Sreenivasan’s movies, or is it the audience’s perspective that has shifted? Let’s take a closer look.
From 2010 to 2024, Malayalam cinema has undergone a significant transformation and is now widely recognized for delivering high-quality content. However, back in 2010, this was not the norm. Although there were many good films, most followed a conventional pattern, making ‘Malarvadi Arts Club’ stand out for its originality and fresh approach.

As a director, Vineeth Sreenivasan places great emphasis on relationships, whether between friends, family members, or across states and religions. This resonates particularly well with his predominantly youthful audience, contributing to the success of his films. Whether it’s the love story between a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl in ‘Thattathin Marayathu,’ the father-son relationship in ‘Jacobinte Swargarajyam,’ or the nostalgic college experiences in ‘Hridayam,’ these bonds are the driving force behind his movies.

Another factor is the feel-good elements in his movies. Initially, these elements worked well for films like ‘Thattathin Marayathu’ and ‘Jacobinte Swargarajyam.’ However, over time, as the volume of content increased, audiences began to tire of the excessive positivity and clichés. This was particularly evident in ‘Hridayam’ and especially in ‘Varshangalkku Shesham.’

One aspect Vineeth Sreenivasan might not have fully considered is that his audience’s perceptions have changed over the past decade. How they view relationships and their ideas of love have evolved. While love remains timeless, its expression does not. For example, the “ente saare” dialogue from ‘Thattathin Marayathu’ received enthusiastic applause back then, but it might not resonate the same way now. In ‘Hridayam,’ Pranav Mohanlal’s character claiming he can tell if the girl he likes is in a relationship just by looking into her eyes, or a girl saying that no Malayali boy can resist a bindi, comes off as clichéd and cringe-worthy to contemporary audiences.

Vineeth Sreenivasan with Darshana and Pranav. Photo: IMDb

It seems that humour in writing has evolved over the past decade; what might have been perceived as jokes back then are no longer considered funny. In his last two releases, Vineeth has struggled to include genuinely humorous moments. A clear example of this is a scene from ‘Varshangalkku Shesham’, where Shaan Rahman’s character attempts to molest the actress, and this is portrayed as comedic. It just comes across as distasteful when you downplay something serious to make it comedic.

Vineeth Sreenivasan with Pranav Mohanlal. Photo: IMDb

Why, then, does Vineeth engage in content that might seems cringy? The likely answer is that Vineeth Sreenivasan understands what works in the industry and what will benefit his movies financially. His 2013 film ‘Thira’ is considered one of his best works, but it did not perform well at the box office. Consequently, Vineeth’s subsequent films have all been feel-good movies—a tried and tested formula that consistently works in Mollywood. Many of Vineeth’s movies feature the same cast repeatedly, which has fuelled nepotism accusations. While Vineeth has explained in numerous interviews that he prefers collaborating with a familiar cast and crew, this practice can be interpreted as indirectly conducive to the nepotism narrative.

A departure from familiar patterns is crucial for Vineeth now. Audiences have become accustomed to, or can even predict, the type of content he creates. If he continues to follow the same formula, it’s likely viewers will grow weary of another formulaic drama. Vineeth Sreenivasan is a highly talented and creative filmmaker, clearly capable of producing diverse contents. Fans remain hopeful that he will deliver fresh and innovative projects in the future. An intelligent screenplay writer himself, Vineeth must have already taken note of murmurs in the movie house corridors.