Jan 18 2018

Aramm

Published by under Review,Tamil Cinema

Aramm Movie Actress Nayanthara Cute Expression Images

Aramm starts off with Madhivadhani(Nayanthara) explaining her actions to her superior(Kitty) after resigning the post of District Collector. As we learn from her conversation, she oversaw the rescue efforts of a little girl who was trapped inside a hole dug for the purposes of installing a borewell. Having a woman district collector, even if played by a superstar like Nayanthara, helps keep the movie realistic and maintain focus on the issues that the movie takes up. She oversees the efforts and suggests ideas but doesn’t jump into action (I couldn’t help imagine how different the movie would’ve been if headlined by a big star like Vijay. He would’ve had a romantic interest, duets, fights with politicians and their rowdies and would’ve eventually dived into the hole and saved the girl single handedly!)

We first get to meet girl Dhansika(Mahalakshmi) and her family. This is a lovely stretch that beautifully captures all dimensions of the life . We see her parents Puleendran and Sumathi(Ramachandran Durairaj and Sunu Lakshmi are fantastic) and their struggle to make ends meet, their focus on their son Muthu’s(Kakka Muttai‘s Ramesh) education, their attempts to provide the best for their kids and their playful relationship. Told with emotions(Puleendran’s acknowledgement of his son’s swimming talent even as he asks him to focus on studies is honest) and humor(the visual of Muthu in the swim cap designed by his mom is hilarious), it gives us characters to root for outside even as Dhansika is trapped inside the hole.

The stretch is also used to establish the difficult lives of the villagers as they struggle for water and other basic amenities. This struggle for water is something that is always in the background. It starts off with a sly instruction from a politician who wants to avoid empty pots in a photograph to be used for a government ad. But it understandably comes up in many of the anguished laments and rants of the villagers. The water scarcity is what leads to the film’s core issue as Dhansika falls into a hole dug for a borewell that was never installed because of the lack of water.

The situation after Dhansika gets stuck in the borewell hole offers a lot of opportunity for drama and the film uses it well to create sustained suspense. The close-up views of Dhansika inside the hole give a realistic, claustrophobic feel to the proceedings and illustrate her situation well (Mahalakshmi’s expressions play a big part in this) and various factors like lack of oxygen, ground fragility, etc. are used to introduce a time factor into her rescue efforts. As different rescue efforts fail because of various reasons, the helplessness of the people involved is understandable and we root for them to succeed and save Dhansika.

Dhansika’s plight is also used to illustrate the apathy of the elected officials to the suffering of the villagers. This is one aspect where the film abandons all subtlety and makes politicians the bad guys. The officials like firemen, doctors and army men are concerned about Dhansika and do their best to save her. But among the 2 politicians we see, one is confident he can pay off the parents after letting the girl die while another hides the councilman, on whose land the hole was dug, in his own house.

One response so far

Jan 10 2018

Thiruttu Payale 2

Published by under Review,Tamil Cinema

thiruttu-payale-2

Thiruttu Payale was interesting because it had a protagonist who wasn’t morally upright and was characterized with broad shades of gray. He was a romantic at heart but he wasn’t averse to blackmailing people to earn quick money. Its director Susi, went on a hiatus after the disastrous big-budget Kanthasamy venturing out only to helm Shortcut Romeo, the Hindi remake of Thiruttu Payale. Back after a break, he follows the same formula as in Thiruttu Payale and keeps things interesting, at least for a while, by giving us multiple characters who are on shaky moral ground and engineering a battle of wits between them in the sequel-in-name-only Thiruttu Payale 2.

Selvam(Bobby Simha) labels himself an “honest corrupt” cop. We learn later that he was an idealistic, honest cop when he started out and was assigned the job of eavesdropping on phone conversations between the high and mighty(his journey isn’t charted with any depth but the romance is cute even though it is shown in bits and pieces). But the frequent transfers and pressure have transformed him into a cop who has since started using what he learns during those conversations to get some substantial monetary gain(he is like the anti-Spyder!). This side of him is something he hides from everyone, including his wife Agalvilakku(Amala Paul, who has acted a bit more glamorously compared to her previous roles). For her part, Agal is addicted to Facebook and dreams of a richer lifestyle, even if it means her husband isn’t as straightforward as she thinks he is.

The film has a rather cynical view of people in general. Selvam graduates to listening in on the phone calls of people close to him and learns that pretty much everyone has secrets of their own, some more damning than the others(the visualization on the street, when Selvam sees animal heads on people waiting on their bikes at a traffic signal is heavy handed but illustrates his state of mind well). Even the mom, usually treated with reverence in Tamil cinema, isn’t left out.

The biggest shock for Selvam comes when he hears Agal’s voice in one of the conversations and it is only here that the story really starts. He digs into the identity of the person at the other end of the line and finds out about Balakrishnan(Prasanna, showing off the time spent at the gym), a serial seducer who targets women through Facebook. Balakrishnan’s MO to get close to Agal is laid out quite convincingly and Prasanna plays the part with a suaveness that makes him believable. Susi also injects himself into the story by showing up as a private detective who has his own agenda.

Being a cop, Selvam is able to zero in on Balakrishnan. But Balakrishnan has a few tricks up his sleeve and the scene where he reveals his hand is a neat twist. So begins a cat and mouse game between him and Selvam with Agal caught between them. With all three having secrets, the scene where they all meet is staged nicely with Amala in particular, showing the confusion and nervousness well. Balakrishnan gets more creepy and devious with Agal(her name leads to a couple of nice quips) but the film starts to spins its wheels here as the story doesn’t really move forward. Balakrishnan holds the upper hand almost throughout and so the way the film chooses to wrap things up is also a little anti-climactic.

2 responses so far

Jan 04 2018

Aruvi

Published by under Review,Tamil Cinema

aruvi

When we first meet Aruvi(perfectly cast Aditi Balan, whose girl-next-door looks reminds one of Anjali in her first few movies), she is called a terrorist and is being questioned by a policeman(Mohammad Ali Baig). The film is the story of the tumultuous life that led her here. But it is a lot more than that as, through her journey, it touches upon topics and subjects as diverse as sexual assault, television reality shows and the stigma against AIDS and transgenders. First-time director Arun Prabu Purushothaman never buckles under the pressure of taking on so many heavy subjects and handles everything masterfully, delivering a film that is part-drama, part-thriller and part-comedy. The result is a film that is at times suspenseful, at times hilarious and at times touching but always unpredictable and involving.

In the current atmosphere of heightened openness and awareness about rape and sexual assault, Aruvi’s character comes across as quite shocking. A victim of multiple rapes, she does expose and humiliate the men responsible for them on a public platform. But at the same time, revenge is not her only motive. Exposing them is only the means to an end. It gives her a platform where she denounces the materialistic nature of society(in a marvelous monologue) and its effect on her life. Once she achieves this, she actually shows compassion to the men by revealing information that puts their mind at ease(something that others didn’t for selfish reasons) and later, participates in group games with them. But the movie or her character never come across as being regressive. Because of her situation, we understand her need for closure and the reason behind her compassion, even to those who don’t seem to deserve it.

In line with Aruvi’s characterization is the film’s attempt to show that there are multiple sides to everybody. Nowhere is this more evident than in one of the men who took advantage of Aruvi. He has raped her in the past and proves to be the most volatile among the men as he physically assaults her too. But he is momentarily humanized with a very touching story about his a woman from his past. The same happens with many of the characters as we get glimpses of humanity that change the image we had of them until then.

Aruvi’s story starts off at the very beginning as we see her as a baby cared for by loving parents and eventually a baby brother, with the loveable Kukkotti Kunnaatti… song. We see different stages of her younger life and the montage of shots here are natural and make us smile. As Aruvi grows older, the realistic feel continues in her characterization. Films tend to show their protagonists as saints since we are expected to side with them and root for them. But Aruvi here is sometimes snarky and even downright mean(like the time another girl asks for a sanitary napkin).

Aruvi’s life starts to go astray when her parents kick her out of the house. The director employs some enjoyable misdirection here as he dupes us into believing a particular, somewhat cliched scenario that led to Aruvi’s parents’ unhappiness with her. The length of time for which we are misled – even though there are questions raised by the parents’ extreme reaction and Aruvi’s physical appearance – points to the director’s skill in presenting the events. This is partly because of the interesting characters Aruvi meets. Her friends Jenny and Emily, a transgender, are worlds apart but provide her support when she most needs it. Emily(her first rant about a friend searching for a green undergarment is hilarious because of its rawness) in particular is a pillar of strength for Aruvi and aside from Aruvi, ends up being the film’s strongest and most enduring character.

The platform that Aruvi chooses to tell her problems is a television show Solvadhellam Sathiyam, a thinly-veiled jab at a popular television show. The format is mercilessly skewered with shots at many people associated with the show, like the ratings-obsessed director and the vain host. Reality shows have always been easy targets for satires but the focus here is always on Aruvi as she reveals a shocking secret and exposes three men who took advantage of her. The revelation is a telling expose of the different ways in which men prey on vulnerable women and treats sexual assault with seriousness – a rarity in Tamil cinema where rape is usually used in exploitative fashion to titillate or place the heroine in a damsel in distress situation so the hero can swoop in and save her.

While Aruvi’s explosive revelations take place on the show, her subsequent action causes the scene to shift to the studio itself as Aruvi begins to hold court with the team behind the show.  As Aruvi makes the members act out different things, the proceedings turn hilarious here. A skit on an extra marital affair takes the cake for the funniest bit but there are a number of smaller gems = the camera man’s call to start the shot, a potshot at Vijay’s films, the light boy’s enthusiasm to put down others – that keep the laughs coming.

From such hilarity, the film takes another sharp turn with some touching moments after Aruvi leaves the studio. For a film that relied on subtlety so far, the climax is brought about in a somewhat amateurish manner as a screenplay that was narrated before plays out in exactly the same way. But the effectiveness of the scene makes us overlook it.

2 responses so far

Jan 01 2018

Happy New Year!

Published by under Review,Tamil Cinema

2017 was a middling year for Tamil cinema but that’s a topic for a different post. This post is about looking forward to 2018.

As of now 2018 looks to be an exciting year for Tamil cinema fans. After a long time, we should have multiple movies from our biggest stars Rajni(2.0, Kaala) and Kamal(Vishwaroopam 2, Sabaash Naidu). It goes without saying that all our other stars will also have 1 or more movies. Suriya and Vikram will kick off the year with Thaana Serndha Koottam and Sketch respectively for Pongal and both of them could have another movie hit the screens before the end of the year since Vikram’s Dhruva Natchathiram has been progressing and Suriya has just kickstarted a new  movie with Selvaraghavan. Vijay will be teaming up with Murugadoss while Ajith is once again joining hands with Siva for Viswaasam. It goes without saying that we will see a lot of Vijay Sethupathy since he seems to start a movie every other day(Super Deluxe, Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren, 96, Idam Porul Yaeval and Junga are all movies that have been talked about in the last couple of months) while Dhanush may be just as busy since he has announced that he will be directing his second movie with himself in the lead and has 2 other movies(Ennai Nokki Paayum Thotta and Maari-2) in various stages of progress. Simbhu will probably be the only star not be seen this year since the Manirathnam movie is the only one he has on hand.

Among directors its highly doubtful if Manirathnam will complete his film before the end of the year but as we saw in the previous paragraph, the year will have films from other big names like Shankar, Murugadoss, Gautham Menon and Selvaraghavan. Bala will have Nachiyar, Karthik Subbaraj has been quietly working on Mercury while Rajiv Menon(who is making Sarvam Thaala Maayam with G.V.Prakash) will be back after a rather long break. Personally, I will be most looking forward to Super Deluxe, the long-awaited 2nd movie from Aaranya Kaandam director Thiagarajan Kumararaja.

Though Rajni has 2 films lined up in 2018, its his political moves that will undoubtedly be more keenly followed. He ended years of speculation with an emphatic announcement about his political entry on Dec 31st. His speech, like all his other speeches, was down to earth, idealistic and sincere and has been received well. It remains to be seen whether he has the needed support among the youth and whether he still has the charisma to convert his fan base into votes but he definitely provides a much-needed alternative in TN politics, which has plunged to new depths in recent months.

2018 is definitely going to be exciting. Let’s sit back, relax and enjoy the show(s)…

Wish you all a happy and healthy 2018!

10 responses so far

Dec 18 2017

Aval

Published by under Review,Tamil Cinema

aval

Barring the occasional Yaavarum Nalam, Tamil cinema has been starved of films in the pure horror genre, with comedy-horror – with an unequal emphasis on comedy – dominating the scene. So Aval, a true blue horror film, is a welcome change. Though not very scary, especially if Hollywood and Asian horror movies are a regular part of your movie diet, it has its share of scares and spooky moments since it takes horror seriously.

Dr. Krishna(Siddharth) is a neuro surgeon who does deep brain stimulation(it is a fantastic line of the profession for a horror movie as the intricate maneuvering inside the brain really ups the suspense during a couple of his later operating sessions). The film does a nice job of showing him and his wife Lakshmi(Andrea) as a young couple in love with a nice montage of shots to show their past romance(his first meeting with her parents is hilarious) and the spontaneous passion between them. Lakshmi’s reactions to the obvious crush their neighbor Jenny(Anisha) has on Krishna, starting with the different ways she addresses Krishna and Lakshmi, are very cute and funny.

The film takes an ominous turn with Jenny’s visions and actions in her house. Care has been taken to differentiate the visions from the typical white-skinned, dark-eyed figures we see in all the horror-comedies. So these are creepy enough and the skillful direction, art direction and background score work well in unison to make many of their appearances function as effective Boo moments. It soon becomes clear that the film is a haunted house flick but the usual question about why the inhabitants don’t simply leave the house is answered early enough(a second explanation is offered later when the first one begins to sound weak). The suspense is built up well as the images become scarier and more frequent and a fake exorcism, where we learn if the happenings are real or a figment of Jenny’s imagination, is staged very well.

We know a bit about the house’s history thanks to a deceptively gentle prologue with a Chinese woman and her daughter but the screenplay does well to hide the exact nature of the link until it is explicitly revealed. The full story when revealed(this part feels a little too convenient), is very disturbing and unsettling. It leads well into some good surprises that the movie has in store and also nicely explains many of the things until then. As in most horror movies, the film also ends with a shot that points to more ominous things in the future.

6 responses so far

Dec 14 2017

Nenjil Thunivirunthal

Published by under Review,Tamil Cinema

nenjil-thunivirunthal

Suseenthiran is one of our more versatile directors switching easily between romance, drama and action films. His thrillers like Paandiyanaadu and Paayum Puli had a bigger star in Vishal but still managed to be quite grounded without getting mired in commercial masala. In Nenjil Thunivirunthal, he goes with a couple of actors with a lot less star wattage and delivers another watchable thriller.

The movie starts off looking like another one(after Mersal) about the medical practice as Kumar(Sundeep) loses his father on the operating table because of a doctor’s mistake. But that’s not the main thrust of the movie(medical malpractice does figure in the proceedings later but is brought in through a different route) and is only brought up in passing much later. Instead we meet Mahesh(Vikranth), Kumar’s friend, who has earned a few enemies because of his habit of questioning injustice.

Mahesh is ultimately responsible for both the film’s drama and thrills. He and Kumar’s sister Anuradha are secretly in love. The three aspects of this, the friendship, the sibling relationship and the romance, are handled without any melodrama and so the track doesn’t have the loudness of the proceedings in Kannedhire Thondrinaal, which was based on the same conflict. Only Thulasi, playing Kumar and Anu’s mother, leans towards being melodramatic but this works since it makes the situation more dramatic when it precipitates.

With Mahesh earning his share of enemies, the film moves easily into low-key thriller territory as we see Duraipandi(Harish Uthaman) go after him. There are a couple of interesting situations brought on by mixed identities but the big twist that comes later is a good surprise even if it is brought about in a roundabout way. Beyond this, things are resolved in a predictable and cinematic manner as Kumar turns into an action hero, thanks to his unbreakable hold on others.

The mix of drama and thrills should’ve been enough for the movie but Suseendran for some reason saw the need to lighten up the proceedings. As a result we get some painful scenes inserted solely for laughs. This comedy is scattered with a couple of bits about Soori as a henpecked husband, an auto driver who Sundeep saves from suicide and who then shows up at a couple of inopportune times, etc. Absolutely none of these bits work. Kumar’s romance with Janani(Mehreen) is also awkwardly inserted and never fits in.

3 responses so far

Dec 12 2017

Ippadai Vellum

Published by under Review,Tamil Cinema

ippadai-vellum

After the failed attempts to become an action hero, Udhayanidhi Stalin seems to be gravitating towards roles where he plays a common man caught up in situations beyond his control. In that sense, the hero’s role in Ippadai Vellum is a perfect fit for him. Unfortunately what could have been an interesting thriller is derailed by the director’s attempts to inject comedy into the proceedings.

Its nice to see a Tamil cinema hero who is not completely in control of everything around him. Madhusoodhanan(Udhayanidhi Stalin) lost his job as a software engineer recently but hasn’t informed his mother(Radhika, playing the first woman bus driver) and so has racked up a big debt as he borrowed money to make payments on the house he bought. Madhu is shown to be the brainy type – we get visual clues as he thinks up ideas while on the run to obstruct his chasers –  and the film remains faithful to this till the end. He uses his brain a few times and even a fight sequence ends up becoming a scuffle where he takes help and then subdues rather than beats up, the bad guy.

Manjima Mohan plays his lover Bhargavi(their names – he is Madhu and he calls her Bar-u – lead to a joke but there is nothing intoxicating about the romance itself) , who wants to get married at the earliest at the register office since her  brother(R.K.Suresh) is opposed to the romance. When on his way to the wedding, Madhu runs into a dreaded terrorist Chotta(Daniel Balaji), who after a prison escape in UP, is on his way to Chennai to engineer some bomb blasts. Something similar happens to Kulandhaivelu(Soori), a mimicry artist, who is traveling to be with his pregnant wife and has a run-in with Chotta. This eventually leads to Madhu and Kulandhaivelu being suspected of being Chotta’s gang members.

The film relies on coincidences every step of the way to move the story forward. These plot points are acceptable initially as characters are introduced and the connections between them are established. But past a certain point, as the coincidences begin to pile up, it starts to feel like lazy writing as they are used to push the story along, tie up loose ends, etc. A couple of them(like the place where Madhu and Chotta are holed up) are good surprises but many of them(like an accident that involves 3 key players) feel too convenient.

Some humor is acceptable and sometimes even welcome in a thriller as it helps ease the tension. But when humor becomes the main goal, tension becomes non-existent. That’s the case here. The issues themselves are serious with elements like a dangerous terrorist, an imminent bomb blast and two wrongly accused innocent men. But the film’s tone doesn’t allow us to take anything seriously. Fart and urine jokes transform otherwise serious scenes like interrogations and chases into farcical sequences and most scenes are treated purely for comedy.

The film has some interesting segues between scenes and this, along with some quick editing, leads to some semblance of suspense in the closing portions(the trick Madhu uses to pinpoint Chotta’s location is nice, especially since it is hinted at by Bhargavi’s offhand comment earlier). Some thought has also gone into the technology aspects as shown in the way Chotta and his gang use email to communicate. Unfortunately this is offset by the ridiculous scene where Madhu and the cops find the password for the account.

2 responses so far

Nov 27 2017

Theeran Adhigaram Ondru

Published by under Review,Tamil Cinema

theeran

Cop movies in Tamil movie have mostly been masala movies that showed our heroes taking on powerful enemies – usually politicians or rowdies – though there have recently been some that opted for realism and took a darker, deglamorized look at the police and their workings(Visaaranai comes to mind). Theeran Adhigaram Ondru, successfully walks the line between the two. With some masala trappings but not enough to damage the seriousness, it is focused and intense for the most part and one of the more impressive police movies to come out of Tamil cinema in recent times.

A key reason for the film working so well in that middle area between masala and serious drama is that Theeran(Karthi) is a supercop but not a superhero (something similar could be said about Karthi, who fits the role since he is a star but not a superstar). Theeran gets his share of slo-mo shots, one-sided fights and supreme deduction skills. But there are times when he is human, like the time when he and the other cops are forced to acknowledge that their plan didn’t work and beat a hasty retreat from a village in Haryana. So there are several suspenseful moments, something that rarely happens in a movie with a big star.

The film’s biggest distraction is the romantic track. On its own, the romance between Theeran and Priya(Rakul Preeti Singh) is cute and has its share of laughs. His tuition sessions are fun and Rakul flirts close to the line but doesn’t cross it when it comes to acting cutesy. Some good laughs are extracted from Priya’s interest in studying and both Manobala and Sathyan have a couple of funny lines. The problem is that these romantic sequences are interspersed with the really violent acts of the dacoit gang as they break into houses and kill the inhabitants before taking off with the loot. So some tonal whiplash occurs as the two sequences alternate. But compartmentalization is something we are used to in Tamil cinema and since Theeran is still not involved with the case, the romantic interludes are easier to take. Priya isn’t around a lot once the case becomes Theeran’s primary focus but the director handles her exclusion differently and even if not physical, her involvement in the events is palpable.

A lot of research has gone into the events behind the film(it is based on actual events). The most obvious is the background information and history of the various violent tribes and groups that ties in directly with the dacoits Theeran goes up against. Though delivered rather unimaginatively(Theeran narrates the story as a voiceover when questioned), the newness of the information and the striking graphics of the animation spice things up. But its not just in these history lessons that the film’s research stands out. We are given a primer about many things that are usually taken for granted. Take for instance Theeran taking over as DSP at a police station. This is usually shown with the officer simply walking into the station and taking charge. But here a series of quick shots that show him perform some mundane duties to understand how things work at the station before taking over the DSP post.

The violent dacoit gang present a formidable group of adversaries for Theeran. They gives the film the intensity that a corrupt politician or a powerful rowdy can never give. Theeran’s single-minded pursuit of the group, which is jump started by a single fingerprint, spans multiple states and involves the police from those states, is gripping and suspenseful. It reveals the way the cops grab at straws hoping for a clue, the painstaking work that is sometimes needed to get a single but key breakthrough in a case and showcases the sacrifices that they have to make to get that breakthrough. The way they follow the clues to gradually get more information about the gang is clearly charted and thrills are many as they close in on them.

In keeping with tone of the film, the action sequences are raw and earthy also. The one inside and then atop a bus is a standout, being the rare action sequence where the end is not obvious and the intensity is maintained throughout. The climax is similarly staged well with Theeran’s tactical thinking and sharpshooting skills showcased well in a situation where he and his team are outnumbered in an unfamiliar setting.

2 responses so far

Nov 16 2017

Spyder

Published by under Tamil Cinema

spyder

In most of our masala movies, particularly those starring a big star, the biggest problem is usually the absence of a strong villain who can go head-to-head with the hero. The need to showcase and amplify the hero’s heroism usually results in weak, neutered villains who are little more than sounding boards for the hero’s punch dialogs and punching bags for the hero’s punches. Spyder has the reverse problem. It has a fantastic, larger-than-life villain but a weak hero and so the battle between them fails to enthuse.

Sudalai(S.J.Suryah, playing the bad guy in another high-profile movie after Mersal) is not after the usual bad guy goals of money or revenge. His affliction is more deep-rooted and psychological since he simply thrives on other people’s grief. The flashback that shows his birth, the reasons behind his abnormal desire, the beginnings of these psychological stirrings and the slowly worsening consequences of their gradual development is probably the film’s best sequence. Without any of the polish that usually characterizes Murugadoss’ filmmaking, it is grim and unsettling and wouldn’t be out of place in a Bala film. Suryah too plays the character with the required manic rage.

After dreaming up such a terrific villain, its sad that Murugadoss couldn’t deliver a hero who is even half as interesting. Almost everything about Shiva(Mahesh Babu) feels wishy washy. As an Intelligence Bureau employee, his job is to listen in on people’s conversations to identify threats but unofficially, he has written a software that hones in on the word ‘help’ in conversations. The sheer magnitude of this task, considering the prevalence of a common word like “help”, is mind-boggling and he is supposed to do this single-handedly. The completely misplaced hero introduction song(part of a terrible Harris Jayaraj soundtrack) and the sight of Shiva taking on bad guys on a boat in regular masala fashion don’t help matters either.

But the film doesn’t feel like hero worship all the time and is a good mix of smarts and action. Shiva’s chase of Sudalai proceeds with some logic even if the initial red herring and subsequent twist are easily foreseen(Bharath has a rather inconsequential role). Their first face-to-face meeting is staged well(it involves a good shock) and also ends on a surprising note. The way Shiva remotely saves his family from Sudalai is another clever scene.

Shiva’s “help” fixation also leads to the romance with Shalini(Rakul Preet Singh), a girl who is looking for a one-night-stand the first time Shiva – and we – hear her. That seems mildly progressive at first but there’s nothing progressive about her role which suffers the same fate as the heroines in star vehicles.

Murugadoss draws up some interesting scenarios but goes overboard with the execution. So we start off being interested but then begin to roll our eyes as things quicky become over-the-top. A chase/fight aboard a roller coaster is the first example. A unique setting, it is nicely done initially but soon becomes too unbelievable. A longer sequence where Shiva employs some housewives to engineer an escape is another such scene. It is interesting to see housewives as action heroes but as their actions become too cinematic, the realism of the scene fades and it becomes silly. The climactic fight between Shiva and Sudalai amidst a crumbling hospital is done well though. The special effects are seamless and the action choreography as huge blocks keep falling around is impressive.

2 responses so far

Nov 13 2017

Mersal

Published by under Review,Tamil Cinema

mersal

If Atlee’s Theri was based on the Baasha template, the director goes back even further to one of the oldest stories – sons separated when young and later uniting to take revenge on the man who killed their father – for Mersal, his second film with Vijay. He injects a few topical issues, throws in some social commentary and packages it all with some rich production values and an eye on entertainment but all that can’t hide the fact that the film is still old, unoriginal wine in a new bottle.

If the fact that Vijay was playing three roles in the film wasn’t trumpeted before the release, the first half could have worked better in misdirecting the viewer and making the proceedings suspenseful. We see a doctor Maaran(Vijay), who treats patients for Rs. 5 back home in India, talk passionately about humanity and free healthcare for all at a conference in Belgium, interact with his mom(Kovai Sarala) and woo a doctor Anupallavi(Kajal Agarwal). But we also see him perform magic as he beats up some robbers and then target a senior doctor(Hareesh Peradi), who he proceeds to kill in front of a big audience during a magic show.

The humanitarian doctor/vengeful magician is is an interesting combination that could have piqued our interest. But knowing about Vijay’s triple role beforehand, we simply wait for the twist that we know is coming. The way the twist is revealed is perfunctory and makes little impact(a little more time could have been spent on showing us how we were tricked until then). Before that we are given another superficial romance, this time between Maaran and Tara(Samantha), a reporter who interviews him. Like Kajal, Samantha sticks around for the obligatory duet and has nothing more to do.

The superficial way in which the screenplay is handled leads to several logical loopholes in these places. As in Aboorva Sagotharargal, one brother gets in trouble for the doings of the other but the situation leads to neither comedy nor suspense as it is hardly given time to develop. It is simply used for a single fight sequence before being used as a lead-in to the obligatory flashback.

The seed for medical malpractice has been laid earlier since the film begins with the kidnapping of some people connected with the field of medicine. The transformation of medicine into business eventually turns out to be the film’s crux as the film touches upon a number of subjects like forced cesarean births, doctors hiding patient deaths(this was shown in Ramanaa too), collusion between different people working at a hospital, etc. Recent tragic news items related to the field are also used to drive home the point. Barring the opening sequence, which is eventually traced back to some unfortunate deaths, the events related to medical atrocities happen in the flashback as Vetrimaaran(Vijay) and his wife(Nitya Menen, who has a little more to do than both other heroines) establish a hospital in their village and are then duped by Daniel(S.J.Suryah), a rich doctor. The flashback is really violent and lays the sentiments on thick but is also the segment that resonates somewhat since both Vetrimaaran and his wife are fleshed out more than the other characters.

As a star Vijay dances(the Mersal Arasan… song is the pick of the lot), fights and delivers punchlines with gusto but as an actor probably at the peak of his career, its disappointing that he makes no effort to distinguish between the 3 characters he plays. Being bearded is as far as he goes to differentiate one role from the other two and he plays all three roles in the same manner(he did this in Azhagiya Thamizh Magan too where he played the bad guy in the same style that he plays all his other roles). He doesn’t even go as far as he did in Kaththi, where he played Jeevanandham as a pacifist throughout. But here the doctor, who we first see being harassed at a foreign airport, saving a woman and then accepting a humanitarian award, initially looks to be calm and dignified but he becomes thara local when threatened by a senior doctor and ends up fighting too when the opportunity presents itself.

10 responses so far

Older Entries »