VATHIKUCHI

A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam


Cast: Dhileban, Anjali
Music: M. Ghibran
Direction: Kinslin
While director Murugadoss' first production Engeyum Eppodhum was a romantic drama that featured two romances, he has chosen an action subject for his second production Vathikuchi. The suspense generated by the film's narrative structure helps it start burning brightly but the weak final back story and the out-of-place heroism dampen the fire in the second half.

Sakthi(Dhileban) is a share auto driver madly in love with Leena(Anjali), who is attending a spoken English class. There are three people gunning for Sakthi's life - a rowdy-for-hire Benny(Sampathkumar), a jeweller(Jayaprakash) and an insurance salesman Vanaraj(Jagan) who also happens to be Sakthi's neighbor.

Vathikuchi's underlying story is a familiar one of the do-gooder hero going up against multiple bad guys. But the narrative technique of first telling us about the three people trying to kill Dhileban presents the story in an interesting fashion since it injects suspense about the actual reasons behind their vendetta. But once it actually gets going, the film fails to do anything interesting with the narration like interleaving or connecting the tracks. And by the time the final track comes around, the technique actually ends up being damaging since the timelines aren't clear and Jagan's flashback is weak and contrived.

The first two flashbacks offer a rather interesting look at organized rowdyism. The casual and audacious way in which rowdies carry out the crimes and the nexus between businessmen, cops and rowdies are shown with more depth and realism than is usual in these kinds of movies.

Vathikuchi can also be credited for trying to provide a valid reason for Dhileban's heroics. While it erroneously shows working out at the gym as providing instant gratification, it at least shows the preparation that goes in before Dhileban's stunts(which provides a couple of minor surprises about his actions in the climax). But that realism is lost during the fights themselves with Dhileban turning into a superhero who throws the bad guys around. More rawness in the stunt sequences would've been better.

Like Engeyum Eppodhum, Vathikuchi too has a cute and fun romance. While Dhileban's lovelorn acts are familiar, Anjali's characterzation makes the track feel fresh. While we usually see the girl either accepting or rejecting the boy's advances, the way Anjali here simply acknowledges Dhileban's feelings is somewhat unique. That puts the relationship between them also in a unique place and so the way the relationship develops after that, with Anjali revealing her true feelings in small ways, is interesting. The moms of both Dhileban and Anjali also help move the romance along in a fun way with their active participation.

Dhileban has a stock expression throughout but is able to manage here since it is mostly an action role and he takes a backseat in the romantic track. Anjali plays the same kind of talkative role she played in films like Engeyum Eppodhum and Kalakalappu. It still works since she is able to raise laughs with her attitude but the charm has worn off a bit. Sampathkumar and Jayaprakash play typical roles while Jagan is able to make the switch to bad guy convincingly. Saranya has a couple of her usual moments but Raja is wasted in role where he barely has a chance to show his funny side. Music director Ghibran lives up to the promise he showed in his fabulous first effort Vaagai Sooda Vaa. Kuru Kuru... is as catchy as any other number this year and the casual way it is picturized suits the fun and smooth tune. Amma Wake Me Up... is the female of version of the group song usually sung by the hero and his friends. It is also picturized in a way that conveys the fun a group of girlfriends have on a shopping trip. Kanna Kanna... is a very unique number whose tune seems to be a pathos tune but ends up being a very romantic number. Ari Ari Ari... is a strong number with uplifting lyrics.