How much do we know about our closest friends? Do we trust them because they are our friends, or are they our friends because we trust them? Watching “Dear Friend” brings that distinction to light – something we’d never considered before. While the first half of the film plays out like a less interesting version of Bangalore Days, it’s the second half that really grabs us and draws us into the narrative. As we went through Dear Friend, we felt compelled to ask what the writers were thinking when they came up with the concept. It all boils down to one line: “What if your best friend has no affection for you and only cares about what you can do for them?” Because that’s what this whole narrative is. Let’s see how the authors expanded this single thought into a two-hour film.

spoilers ahead

Vinod’s disappearance and subsequent events

Dear Friend begins with Jannat, Arjun, Sajith and Shyam celebrating Vinod’s birthday by forcing him to dress in a very cheesy Superman costume. We see close-knit circles of friends having a great time in Bangalore. At a party, they get into trouble when Vinod asks Sajith not to take a picture of him as they all appear to be coming from someone else’s Instagram live. This leads to an altercation between them and the other people, which puts them in jail. When they return home after the night’s events, Vinod Jannat promises it’s his turn to prank them on their birthdays.

Days pass and Vinod becomes very involved in the lives of all his friends. He is one of the founders of a start-up with them, with Shyam being the main investor. In fact, all have managed to secure Rs 1 crore funding for their business. He’s also the person who gives Sajith the confidence to trust in his abilities when he’s going through a rough patch. Sajith feels bad about his employability due to poor language skills, Vinod tells him his language is coding and he should be proud of it. He even goes so far as to take care of him when Sajith falls ill after a night of drinking. He lends him Rs 2 lakhs if he needs it for building his house.

Vinod also plays a central role in the love story of Arjun and Jannat. He is said to be closest to Jannat in the group and looks at her as if she is the one who escaped. But when Jannat and Arjun encounter opposition from their father about their marriage, he encourages them to take the plunge and go their own way. When it comes to Shyam, he doesn’t want to go into his father’s business and do something of his own. Vinod stands by him like a rock and supports his ambitions.

To all his friends he is a sincere guy and one of the best friends they could have wished for. He told them his mother died of cancer a few years ago and he couldn’t get over it. This also earns him the sympathy of his friends. But all of that comes to an abrupt end when he disappears from their lives one day, leaving only a single letter in which he thanks them for the memories.

The aftermath of Vinod’s disappearance

Jannat initially assumes that Vinod’s disappearance is a hoax for her birthday. But when the police search for him, they understand that things are more serious. He was accused of embezzling Rs 70 lakhs from the previous company he worked for. The friends are forced to reconsider everything they knew about him. They realize that they didn’t know any of his other friends and that they had never met his family in all the time they had known him. Shyam is particularly caught between a rock and a hard place when the investors tell him to choose between giving them their money back or transferring the business to them. He arranges the money by borrowing it from his older brother, but not without resentment at his misplaced trust. Sajith, on the other hand, finds another job because he doesn’t come from a wealthy background like his friends and his family urgently needs money. Jannat and Arjun are also quite heartbroken over Vinod’s disappearance. They eventually manage to track down one of his friends in Mumbai, who tells them he went through something similar. Vinod stood by him like a rock when his mother died and disappeared the next day without a reason or reason. They also find Vinod’s mother, who he had told them was dead. She says she hasn’t seen her son in a while and he’s as good as dead to her.

Dear Friend Ending Explained – Who is Vinod? Why did he leave his friends?

The days pass and they all move on with their lives. Sajith discovers Vinod one fine day in a cafe in Bangalore. He calls his other friends and they all gather to wait for him, although Shyam refuses to come, not trusting his own temper. They wait for him all day and finally see him going to another house. Sajith, Arjun and Jannat follow him and they find out that he is living with some people like they all lived together before. They speak to him and see a completely different version of the person they once knew as their best friend. The person in front of them is honest that he was with them to escape from the police and fled when the authorities started to close in on him. He says he owes Shyam an apology, leading Jannat to ask him why he doesn’t think the rest of them deserve an explanation. He is flippant about it, making it clear that he was with them for a reason; He was playing a role for his own safety. The friends are shocked. You don’t recognize this person in front of you and say the same thing. But as expected, Vinod doesn’t care. As they leave, Jannat asks him what story he told his current group. He replies, “Same story, never fails.” This means his current group of friends also think he’s lost his mother and is operating with a similar dynamic as his previous group.

Here was a charming sociopath at work who was able to fool a psychologist like Jannat just because she trusted him. And so ends Dear Friend, Shyam, Jannat, Sajith and Arjun come to the realization that they never had a friend – they only had a criminal to protect.

Final Thoughts – What Works and What Doesn’t for Dear Friend?

It’s hard to say what works for the film. It was a well-developed narrative, and even the most seemingly insubstantial bits of it needed to add to the shock value of the last few minutes. Despite the confirmation, we can’t help but think how boring the first half was. There was no intrigue and no real audience participation. We’re only staying for the second-half payoff, which hands down delivers. Feeling the shock of Vinod’s true identity as much as his friends do, we wonder why anyone would go to such extremes just for fake friendships? The change in his personality and the fact that we understood Vinod’s character for the first time was an uncomfortable realization. When I think about it, the friends have never suffered any financial or emotional loss because of him. In fact, Vinod was a giver. And that was the source of all her confusion – the fact that he was a better friend than anyone could ask for and it was all a hoax.

It’s difficult to recommend “Dear Friend” to others because of its slow pace, but if someone manages to watch it, it can be the subject of many interesting discussions about how we divide our lives between different relationships. To that end, it could perhaps be an exciting weekend watch.

Dear Friend is a 2022 drama thriller film directed by Vineeth Kumar.

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