Virus is a devastatingly beautiful reconstruction of the Nipah Virus outbreak in Kerala.
The meticulous research that has been put in Virus is abundantly clear from the opening credits itself, when ‘sincere thanks’ is bestowed upon all and sundry, from the state’s CM and health ministers to even petrol bunks, who were involved in the 2018 Nipah Virus outbreak in Kerala. Credit must be given to director Aashiq for leaving no brick unturned in reconstructing the events that happened during the epidemic outbreak.
As the movie begins, Aashiq wastes no time in throwing the audience amidst the organized chaos of the medical world. He walks us through the hospital routine, but never underestimates the intelligence of his audience. He doesn’t even pause to explain medical jargons, trusting the audience to piece together the story by themselves. Virus might be branded a medical thriller/mystery, but more than anything else, it is about the people, the brave souls who had shown courage in the face of despair.
Virus features a stellar ensemble cast, and while there is no single hero/heroine to save the day, they all contribute in their own small way. From Parvati to Zakaria, everyone feels so authentic that you can’t help but relate to them. You feel for the guilt-ridden family of the ‘index patient’ who had spread the infection, you sympathize with the doctors and other hospital workers for their many sacrifices and the toll it takes on their families. The screenplay also has a brilliant way of establishing backstories for the many patients in flashbacks that makes you care for them as people. There is a hilarious little sequence that is remarkably similar to the many conversations you would have had with your friends while traveling in a car. Three medical students wait for the lyrics of a song from A.R. Rahman’s Kadalan, but when they realize it’s the Hindu version, their reactions and the exchanges that follow are priceless. It’s scenes like these that make the characters so relatable.
In one of the movie’s best moments, Tovino Thomas, who plays the district collector motivates a group of workers by citing examples of anonymous Samaritans who had come to the aid of God’s Own Country. It’s a profound scene that demonstrates that goodness and kindness often come unasked for from the most unexpected places. It also brought to mind an incident in my life that had shown me how empathy is still very much alive in humanity.
Parvathy plays Annu, a detective sleuth, who helps shepherd the movie to a logical conclusion. While some parts of her research are understandably fictionalized, her investigations to identify the source of the outbreak, done solely with the help of a pencil and notebook, make for an intriguing narrative. The last scene in Virus is heart-wrenchingly beautiful as the movie comes full circle, silently implying the butterfly effect of nature’s fury. Virus is another reminder that Mollywood transcends Indian cinema when it comes to making authentic movies.