Sunday, August 27, 2006

Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu

Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu is a police story that places emphasis on brain rather than brawn. It is an involving police procedural that handles a different subject(for Tamil cinema) in a different way(again, for Tamil cinema) and is a worthy follow-up to Kaakka Kaakka for Gautham.

Raghavan(Kamalhassan), a DCP (Crime Branch) in Chennai, is brought in by his friend Arokiaraj (Prakashraj), whose daughter has been brutally raped and killed. With almost no clues to what seems like a random killing, Raghavan is forced to bid a sad goodbye to Arokiaraj and his wife, who leave for New York to try and forget the past. But another tragic news takes Raghavan to New York, where he works with NYPD to apprehend some killers. Meanwhile, he meets Aradhana(Jyothika), who stays in the same hotel, and becomes good friends with her.

VV is probably the closest Tamil cinema has come to a real police procedural. Kamal finds his targets with real, painstaking police work rather than easy-to-find clues or obvious witnesses. We are with him every step of the way as he questions witnesses, uncovers clues and puts the pieces of the puzzle together. We understand his dedication and the scene where he listens to his own notes on the Dictaphone is an insightful glimpse into how he works. But Gautham cheats when its time to put the final pieces together. He connects the initial dots patiently but as he nears the final dots, he relies on the cop’s instinct or coincidence or the bad guys’ bravado to finish the picture.

VV has a protagonist and a villain who are equally matched and nowhere is this more evident that in the tense one-on-one encounter they share in an apartment. Balaji’s psychotic desperation and Kamal’s never-say-die attitude make their meeting fascinating and it is never clear meeting who the hunter and the hunted are. It is a tense, thrilling scene whose rawness and intensity is not in evidence at any other point in the film.

The film is essentially one long chase as Kamal tries to first uncover and then nab, one or more serial killers. Initially, his pursuit seems real as he grasps at straws in his chase of the men, who are little more than ghosts to him. His MO is interesting and the excitement is palpable when he gets closer to them. But as the chase nears the end, the proceedings become more cinematic with the killers indulging in very cinematic activities like moving in and out of disguises and taunting Kamal. It is definitely good movie making with the proceedings being tense and intense. It just doesn’t deliver on the cerebral promise the movie made when it started.

Almost the opposite happens in the relationship between Kamal and Jyothika While we’ve met characters who grow on us in other movies, here’s a relationship that grows on us. The initial meeting between Kamal and Jyothika is straight out of romance novels with a damsel in distress and her knight in shining armor. Their relationship from then on is built almost completely on coincidences (they even manage to get out of their hotel rooms at the same moment!). But it is developed in a way that pushes even the serial killer to the background. Their tentativeness beautifully reflects the heavy baggage each of them is carrying. The two share some wonderful conversations and even more wonderful silences.

One feels that even Gautham understood this shift in importance of the two relationships as the movie proceeds. So, what was a serial killer story with a romance thrown in, becomes a romance with a serial killer sidetrack! While stories about serial killers always throw in a twist or two, it is the Kamal-Jyothika track that gives us a bigger surprise here. The time afforded to Kamal and Jyothika increases as the movie proceeds and in the end, the relationship between Kamal and Balaji is terminated quite abruptly while the closure to Kamal’s relationship with Jyothika takes a lot longer.

It is almost a pleasure to see Kamal looking like Kamal instead of being hidden under layers of makeup or having a different hairstyle or getup for the sake of being different. I’m not sure if the bags under his eyes in the close-ups and the noticeable paunch under his tucked-in shirt are intentional but they do help make him look the part of a middle-aged cop. He plays the part with the dignity it deserves and underplays his emotions. Jyothika once again proves that Gautham brings out the best in her, with probably her best role since Kaakka Kaakka. She displays a quietness that one never knew was a part of her. Kamalini Mukherjee makes a mark in the criminally short time she is onscreen. But it is Balaji who is the scene stealer as the killer. Going against the recent trend of quietly chilling villains, he rants and raves and brings to life, a detestable character. Prakashraj is quietly impressive in a cameo.

The cinematography plays a big part in giving a classy, slick sheen to the proceedings. The Karkka Karkka… number scares us about camera tricks being overused but such opulent visual flourishes are limited to the song sequences. While Paartha Mudhal Naale… is the most romantic number, Manjal Veiyil… is the most attractive visually, with the camera taking us on a tour of New York at night (Gautham shows up in the latter, dancing to the Vennilave… bit). Uyirile… occurs at a rather unexpected but emotional moment and so the picturization is not what I expected at all. Neruppe… is an unnecessary item number that Gautham could well have avoided.


At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great review as usual bb .. so what is it in the end .. 3 stars / 3.5 stars ?? :)

At 11:47 PM, Blogger prakash said...

Hmmm... maybe I'll see the movie after all.

Sounds like a must-see-in-theater.

At 12:35 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

anon, thanx. gut feel was 2.5 stars. just about the same as Kaakka Kaakka.

prakash, the cinematography makes this a must-see-in-theater as long as u r surely gonna see it. but u gotta know what u're gonna get - not light entertainment, very violent, a tad slow, etc.

At 12:49 AM, Blogger skanda said...

i see u liked the movie...too many ist is quite boring...i am one of the few who hated "Kakka Kakka" so this is also not quite my cup of could have been better if there was no songs, and the romantic scenes shorter...honestly i thought Jhotika was there for the final damsel in distress scene...

At 1:42 AM, Blogger Bart said...

As usual browsed through the review since I want to see the movie. Your thumbs up along with B.Rangan's makes it a must for me. Again superficial browsing lead me to think its a 3 star movie. Will chk it out this week sometime.
I get a general feeling that therez quite some heavy dose of carryover from kaaka kaaka here... Anyhow...

At 2:09 AM, Blogger arun said...

I watched the movie y'day and I loved it. Not saying this just because am a Kamal fan, but also it is kind of a movie which belongs to the Suspense/Thriller Genre. The story is bold where they talk about things not easily accpeted by the society, and it takes a view about a psychotic person's mind, though not an in-depth anyalysis. We do not have any comedians and songs are there just to loosen the pressure buiding up. As Balaji has mentioned, the film is rushed in the end with things like "Instict", but as compared to any other Masala movie which comes in today this one is far and much better, because it belongs to a "Genre" and not putting in all the stuff. Kudos for Balaji as he shines in his satanic 'n' pyschotic deeds. Overall, great movie if you enjoy thriller stuff.

At 2:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


After watching VV. I dont why i dont have a feel good feeling...Maybe it reminded me too much of khakka khakka.Gautham shld have named it khakka khakka 2. Most of the casts are frm KK team, adayar bridge was a key location for both films and balaji dangerously reminded me of pandia frm KK. Even the dialogues where he shouts at Kamal is juz a lift up from KK. In KK" Anbuselven IPPO naan unnae thania paakanum..."
and in VV we have balaji screaming the same thing except its raghavan tiz time.I kinda felt unsatisfied after watching VV.It did not leave an impact unlike KK. But kamal was class of his own.He brilliantly portrayed class in every scene though underplaying hid role and it was one of the best kamal intro scenes in recent times. Aniway still got Desavatharam to look out for. I hope shankar wont disappoint us with sivaji.Already rahman has said in a recent interview that were would not be ani intro song for thalaivar or self praising songs..Have to wait and c.

T.P: The other villian with balaji actually played the pandia role in the telugu version of KK

At 7:25 AM, Blogger மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

Balaji, enna ithu unga coming soon post and review are having different photos. It's odd from your usual formula, right?

BTW, neat review

At 7:26 AM, Blogger Kumari said...

Great review Balaji :)
Couldn't have said it better.

I was pretty impressed with the 1st half but the second half completely depressed me. (Even tho' I liked all the soft scenes in the latter section)

To me, the movie should have ended in NY. Instead of gut feeling, Gautham could've stretched the investigation for a few more scenes and brought closure to it there itself.

Coz uptil then, the movie is definitely classy. The cameraman is the second hero after Kamal, i guess :)

But to me, the best part of the entire movie was being able to sit through the songs and enjoy them(tho I agree with u on the Neruppe number) Normally, while watching at home, The Mr forwards all songs/emotional/romance/fight scenes that we end up watching a typical Tamil movie in 30-40 mins :) It was great to see him squirm thro' the songs for a change :D

And Kamal truly rocked!

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Priya said...

Nice review Balaji.
I saw the movie yesterday and liked it.. didn't LOVE it though... May be because I'm not a great fan of Kamal, though I appreciate his acting. You will LOVE the movie if you like Kamal and jyothika.. As Balaji mentioned, Jo shines in Gautham's movies.
Definitely a different kind of movie for tamil. Another good one from Gautam.

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Filbert said...

Balaji, appears that you liked the movie a lot more than I did. I couldn't sit through the second half with all the violence and shouting. But happy that you are probably only giving it a 2.5 star rating :)

At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

awesome review, was very professional, even better than that of Black, which I consider one of your best reviews till date, mainly coz in Black you indulged in an that extra bit of hyperbole (which is not usually your style) something that reflected your love for the movie but this one, since you had more -ve pts to say, was more balanced...
makes me wanna see the movie even more!
PS: thank God, u stuck to your usual policy of "No Spoilers" coz I'm too afraid to go anyway near the Sify or the other popular sites for their V V reviesw!

At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


this is like way off topic, but was just curious about what you think about those students from canada who have been arrested in connection with LTTE? sorry to impose such a topic here but i can never tell how Indian Tamils feel bout the problem in SL.....all I know is that our tamil is funny to you think the students deserve it?

At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved the first half. And the second half went down hill all the way. Notes..
- Kamal is SO full of himself, note sure if Gautham Menon had a hand in this, but people burst out laffing when he says "At home, they call it the Raghavan Instinct!"
- Jo looked divinely cute. kalyana kalai!
- Having said that, there was zilch chemistry between the two
- Kamalini Mukherji could be totally done w/o in the movie. She had no role at all.
- Awesome songs. Picturization took the already chart topping numbers to a new level.
-Waaaaaaaaay too much gore and in-your-face visuals... could have been done so much more subtly and aesthetically.
- Dialogues are so natural, matter of fact and full of wit. Gautham deserves a pat on the back.
- In all a very different genre ...worth a watch just for that alone.

At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again a good review, but confusing star system. I noticed that you had given 3.5 stars to Virumandi a film with lots of gore, poor climax,a narrative style that was inspired(or lifted) and with Kamal miscasting himself in the lead role. But only 2.5 stars for VV?

and 3.5 stars for Parthiban kanavu(and Perazhagan)??!!!! They deserved 3 stars at the most. I guess I will stick to just reading reviews and ignoring the stars :-)

At 6:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji, looks like Gautam wanted Kamal without any makeup. Atleast thats what he had to say in SunTV interview.

At 6:25 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

stomach fire burning! :-) can't wait to see.

aside: finished kite runner. one word-awesome. thanks.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger KK said...

Nice review bb, I too hope that Kamals bags under the eyes and paunch were intentional... :)
I think the songs could have been taken much better, especially "Paartha mudhal naale"...Nerrupe song was totally un-necessary...

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Spock said...

Its not the complete first half which was interesting, only the first investigation really was. I thought the romantic angle was forcefully thrust into the movie just to sustain the songs and 30 mins of movie time, but otherwise totally unnecessary.

At 1:37 PM, Blogger nivas said...

I wasn't as impressed with the movie. I agreee with all your positive points, but i felt the following things were not quite right in the movie -
* The 'matured' romance didn't really go well with the thriller mood of the movie. Esp. in the later half, there was a shift towards romance which looked like an aberration
* In various scenes Kamal was getting into prolonged fights, when he could used his gun to settle it much earlier! This would be fitting in a masala movie, but not in this which attempts to be a realistic thriller.
* As you mentioned the item song was totally unnecessary. Also the first Kamal-Jo lyrics were also not good - they were just like spoken sentences. Music is quite average, esp. BGM.
* Gautam should have decided whether this is sequel of Kaakha Kaakha or not. Some things like Kamal's first wife's death points to that, whereas other dont match with that. Also of course too many scenes were reminding me of Kaakha Kaakha...

I would agree with 2.5 star, though my rating for Kaakha Kaakha would be higher.

At 6:37 PM, Blogger Ram C said...

Balaji.. we are on the same lines.

Still, KK would have touched our heart rather than VV, in terms of intensity of the romance. Othewise, it is a perfect crime novel type of story, well taken.

At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most Kamal movies suffer from the same expectation - a class act. A one man vehicle that is to deliver a supreme performance, a fantastic box office collection, par excellance music / songs, tight screenplay, a path breaking direction. To summise all this in a single movie, we need to appreciate a performance in its entirety. Though he carries the star billing (& the salary)it always bears on his shoulders to make the movie a mega-hit...commercially & critically. VV, I believe, will suffer the same - until we appreciate a movie of a different genre with a different set of expectations...a lot less dissections(!).

At 10:39 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

skanda, i agree. it would've been a leaner thriller without the songs and shorter romantic scenes. but since they r there, guess we can be glad that they were done well :)

bart, curious to know ur views as well. and yes, theres a lot of KK hangover...

arun, yes its definitely one of the better thrillers to come along. i was just disappointed that it started so strong but lost its bearings midway...

rdx, yes there was a big KK hangover. but can't say i was disappointed cos of that. since it was from gautham and it was another police story, i kinda expected it... so that by itself wasn't a big disappointment...

karthik, a couple of people mentioned that they missed the review since they thot it was the 'coming soon' post because of the same picture. adhaan change paniten :)

kumari, gautham not stretching the investigations enuf and ending them with instinct, etc. was a big disappointment for me. almost an anti-climax... surprised the mr. squirmed thro the songs. they were all good to hear and watch... even neruppe :)

priya, thanx for dropping by. yes gautham again brought out the best in jo. she was completely different from her usual bubbly self...

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Arvind Srinivasan said...

IMO, the movie should have ended at the interval ! - the story had come to its logical conclusion then.

The movie would have been awesome that way.

Post-interval is for Indian masses - revenge, relationships and climaxes.

Gosh, too much violence - the songs - i don't understand how HJ can blatantly recycle his songs - i mean, com'on, two phrases don't make a MD.

Jo is left alive, only slightly relieves the viewer from an otherwise depressing second half !

At 8:41 PM, Blogger Bart said...

My views after watching VV:
- The style of narration (jerks, quick cuts) and the villain, balaji's characterisation (leaving out the eccentricity and brilliance), reminds us of KK very much
- Kamal-Jo's romance was not somehow complete :) (It lacked a punch)
- Kamal didn't have too much of scope for his individuality to standout. A Vijayakanth of kshatriyan could have as well done this role :). To Kamal's credit, he stood tall, graceful and brought dignity to the character underplaying in all aspects.
- The villains shown as super villains beating anyone on the fly with two punches was a bit too much, especially in a hurry to the finiz line.
- The movie would've had a better impact in a 2 hr package. Maybe should've ended in NY.

Leaving out the negatives above, I felt Harris did a good job in background score elevating the impact of quite a few scenes. A very much racy, interesting, engrossing murder investigation story - belonging in the top bracket in this category of Tamil flicks (which are very few anyhow :)).

At 5:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bart....RR u thot was gd!!!!!!!!?
i tend to agree with nivas that it was average
in many places it was so inapt and out of place!!!
the lovely paartha mudhal def deserves a better visual well planned!
i thot GM was similar to bala in accumalting similarities bet nandha and sethu /VV and KK
i feel a sign of a gd director is striving to b DIFF and not have the same chaappa!
but def a slick movie
only the violence was 2 much 4 me to take.
appreciate GM for taking a movie sans comedians as a sep track.

At 12:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After catching the movie in S'pore - in a rather depleted cinema reeking of some hangover of better times - one element that stands out in VV - gritty.

Lacking the usual in-your-face masala doses, the fairest comment to make will be it would have had a tighter run to the finish, it could have done without some sentimental parts- which were evidently put in place for the masses ie family, the love angle, the marriage in the end etc.

All said, though VV is a little dragging in parts, it is almost gratifying (and a tad sad) to watch an aging Kamal, still pulling stunts at 50 (that a 30 will find nervy), dishing out hand-to-hand combat that project his martial skills, emoting that
speaks volumes, and a swagger that belies his age...a little.

All in all, VV is fulfilling mostly for his fans...unsatisfying for masala movie masses...average for the neutral.

At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

VV is a different thriller movie and opens a new dimension to the Tamil film industry. But kamal has nothing to act in this movie. "konjam adakki vechuttan gowtham"

I also noticed that many scenes were "cut" by censor. for example, the flashback where balaji tells to kamal about the Rani murder. Rani will ask balaji about "the cassette". They didnt show what was that back ground leaving audience to guess(me atleast).

The film would have been better if it has ended in NY and instead they followed the routine vengenance theme.

At 6:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Homosexuals don't have sex with women. They are bisexuals if they indeed love each other.

At 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice review Balaji! On the same track with this one, Though I do have a great personal weakness for Kamal, Gauthan and Jyothika:)!

At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there!

Do you happen to know the English song that the killer dances to when he tries to kidnap Jothika in this movie? Plse let me know the title and artist name if u have it. Thanks a bunch

At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there!

Do you happen to know the English song that the killer dances to when he tries to kidnap Jothika in this movie? Plse let me know the title and artist name if u have it. Thanks a bunch...I could be reached at Thanks.


At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simple and Sweet , great work.

Tamil Songs


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