Aboorva Sagodharargal proved that unique characterization and a smart screenplay could transform even a familiar story into a classic entertainer. K.S.Ravikumar has remembered the first part of that lesson but not the second part. With Ajith’s considerable help, he creates a memorable character capable of holding up a movie in Varalaaru, but throws the character into a predictable and eventually confusing screenplay.
Shiva(Ajith), a rich businessman, has had his share of sorrows. He lost his wife and his legs in a car accident and is now wheelchair-bound. His son Vishnu(Ajith) is a happy-go-lucky chap, determined to enjoy the wealth his father has accumulated for him. On a trip to a village, Vishnu meets Divya(Asin) and soon, the two are ready to wed. But Vishnu starts behaving strangely, insulting Divya and her family, making advances on her cousin and even trying to kill his own father. He is admitted to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation but actually, its Shiva’s past that has caught up with him and is behind all this.
Varalaaru is a film that could have used a little less publicity. Though the story eventually reveals itself to be a familiar one, that is not so obvious initially. As Ajith starts behaving erratically, there is potential for real suspense about how the story will proceed. But all the advance publicity about Ajith playing 3 roles (even if you’ve been hiding under a rock and didn’t know about the triple role, it is proudly announced at the beginning of the credits) drains the suspense right out. We know exactly why he is behaving like that and the question simply becomes when KSR is going to reveal it.
But though the big reveal is expected, KSR still manages to throw couple of legitimate surprises at us after that. One revelation is a complete surprise(and has been presented well too) and who the effeminate character is, also comes as a surprise. The screenplay goes through a lot of convolutions to bring about these surprises but they work at their moments.
Considering he is the kaadhal mannan, Ajith has been getting stuck in some pretty bad romances these days. Though not as distasteful as the romance in Tirupathi, the way Ajith and Asin hook up here comes pretty close. His intent and her plan mark them as not-so-nice people and double entendre dialogs and unfunny comedy abound in the whole segment. Not surprisingly, no one comes off looking good at the end of it. KSR fast-forwards to the marriage right after the romance but one wishes he had fast-forwarded through the romance too.
The other thing Varalaaru shares with the last couple of Ajith films is that it seems very old-fashioned. Sure it was delayed more than a year but some concepts in the film make it seem like it was delayed by a couple of decades! When a woman’s rape is almost justified or the woman’s mom wants her to marry the rapist, the film seems dangerously regressive. The only relief is the way the woman’s character itself is shaped. She is spirited, independent and brave. But eventually, even she is beaten down enough to want to get back together with her rapist!
Its Ajith’s show all the way and not having to play superman and utter punch dialogs, he delivers. The effeminate dancer is obviously the showier role and it is a rather unique one. He has two left feet when it comes to the actual dancing but the exaggerated expressions and feminine gestures during other times are nicely done. Like most actors who get to play a bad guy, Ajith also enjoys himself in the psychotic, revenge-obsessed role. One of the roles always loses out when an actor plays a triple role and here it is the hero, who is rather uninteresting compared to the other two roles. Asin shows glimpses of her comic timing in the little time she is given but is handicapped by poor characterization. The film has a huge supporting cast but few others get enough screen time to make an impression. A common complaint about films with an A.R.Rahman soundtrack is that the picturization of the songs doesn't do justice to the songs. No such problems here though. None of the songs make an impression and only Dhinam Dhinam... is slightly hummable.