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 this distinction into light—something we had never stopped to consider before. While the first half of the movie plays out like a less interesting version of “Bangalore Days,” it is the latter half that really engages and absorbs us into the narrative. While going through “Dear Friend,” we felt compelled to ask what the writers were thinking when they came up with this concept. The entirety of it can be summarized in just one line: “What if your best friend does not have any affection for you and only cares about what you can do for them?” Because that is exactly what this whole narrative is. Let us see how the writers expanded this single thought into a two-hour movie.
Vinod’s Disappearance And The Subsequent Events
“Dear Friend” begins with Jannat, Arjun, Sajith, and Shyam celebrating Vinod’s birthday by forcing him to dress up in a very tacky Superman costume. We see tight-knitted friends’ groups who have lots of fun in Bangalore. While at a party, they run into some trouble when Vinod asks Sajith not to take his picture as they all seem to be coming on somebody else’s Instagram live. This causes an altercation between them and the other people, which lands them in jail. As they are returning home after the night’s events, Vinod promises Jannat that it’s now his turn to prank them on their birthdays.
Days pass, and Vinod is very involved in all of his friends’ lives. He is one of the founders of a start-up with them, with Shyam being the main investor. In fact, all of them have managed to secure a funding of Rs 1 crore for their business. He is also the person who gives confidence to Sajith to trust in his abilities when he is going through a rough patch. Sajith is feeling low about his scope of employability because of poor language skills, Vinod tells him that his language is coding and he should be proud of that. He even goes as far as to take care of him when Sajith falls sick after a night full of drinking. He lends him Rs 2 lakhs when he needs it for the construction of his house.
Vinod also plays a central role in Arjun and Jannat’s love story. He is said to be the closest to Jannat in the group and looks at her like she’s the one that got away. But when Jannat and Arjun face opposition from her father for their marriage, he encourages them to take the step and follow their own path. When it comes to Shyam, he doesn’t want to join his father’s business and wants to do something of his own. Vinod stands next to him like a rock and supports his ambitions.
To all of his friends, he is a stand-up guy and one of the best friends that they could have asked for. He has told them that his mother passed away due to cancer a few years ago, and he has been unable to get over it. This also earns him his friends’ sympathy. But all of it comes to an abrupt end when one day he disappears from their lives and just leaves a single letter behind, thanking them for the memories.
The Aftermath Of Vinod’s Disappearance
Initially, Jannat assumes that Vinod’s disappearance is a prank he is pulling for her birthday. But when the police come looking for him, they understand that things are more serious. He has been accused of misappropriating Rs 70 lakhs from the previous company that he worked at. The friends are forced to reconsider everything that they knew about him. They realize that they knew none of his other friends, and that they had never met his family in all the time they had known him. Shyam is especially caught between a rock and a hard place as the investors tell him to choose between giving them their money back or signing over the business to them. He arranges the money by borrowing it from his elder brother, but not without getting an earful about his misplaced trust. Sajith, on the other hand, finds another job, as he does not come from an affluent background like his friends, and his family is in dire need of money. Jannat and Arjun are also quite heartbroken about Vinod’s disappearance. They eventually manage to track one of his friends in Mumbai, who tells them that he went through something similar. Vinod stood by him like a rock when his mother passed away and disappeared the very next day, without any rhyme or reason. They also find Vinod’s mother, whom he had told them was dead. She says that she hasn’t met her son in quite a while, and he is 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 spots Vinod one fine day in a café in Bangalore. He calls up his other friends, and they all meet up to wait for him, though Shyam refuses to come, not trusting his own temper. They wait for him the whole day and eventually spot him going into another house. Sajith, Arjun, and Jannat follow him, and they find that he is living with a few people, just like all of them used to live together before. They speak to him and see a totally 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 he fled when the authorities started closing in on him. He says that he owes Shyam an apology, making Jannat question him why he doesn’t think that the rest of them deserve an explanation. He is flippant about that and makes it clear that he was with them for a purpose; he was acting out a role for his own security. The friends are shocked. They do not recognize this person in front of them and say the same. But as expected, Vinod doesn’t care. As they are leaving, Jannat asks him what story he was telling his current group. He replies, “Same story, never fails.” This means that his current group of friends also think that he has lost his mother and are operating with a similar dynamic as his previous group.
This was a charming sociopath at work, one that was able to deceive a psychologist like Jannat, all because she trusted him. And that’s how “Dear Friend” ends, with Shyam, Jannat, Sajith, and Arjun coming to the realization that they never had a friend—they just had a criminal they were sheltering.
Final Thoughts- What Works And What Doesn’t For ‘Dear Friend’?
It’s hard to say what works for the movie. It was a well-developed narrative, and even the seemingly most unessential bits of it were required to add to the shock value of the final few minutes. Despite the acknowledgment, we can’t help thinking how the first half was just so dull. There was no intrigue whatsoever, and no real investment by the audience either. We only stick around for the pay-off in the second half, which undoubtedly delivers. We feel the shock of Vinod’s true identity as much as his friends do, and question why someone would go to such extremes for just fake friendships? The shift in his personality and the fact that this is the first time we have understood Vinod’s character was an uncomfortable realization. Come to think of it, the friends never suffered any loss because of him, financially or emotionally. In fact, Vinod was a giver. And that was the basis of all their confusion—the fact that he was a better friend than anybody could ask for, and it was all fake.
It’s hard to recommend “Dear Friend” to others because of its slow pace, but if anybody manages to watch it, it can be the topic of many interesting discussions about how we divide our lives between different relationships. For that purpose, maybe it could be an exciting weekend watch.
“Dear Friend” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Vineeth Kumar.