Thursday, November 16, 2006


Vattaaram is probably the best example of the shift in the tone of gangster movies in Tamil cinema. When Saran made a movie with a rowdy as hero in 2002, it was Gemini, a complete masala entertainer with the familiar rowdy-with-heart-of-gold as hero, an over-the-top villain, diluted violence and large dollops of comedy, sentiments and romance. But Vattaaram, his return to the genre, is darker, has a larger canvas and features a protagonist painted in broader shades of gray. It is fast-paced and entertaining but also familiar. And Saran's unwillingness to go the whole way makes it less effective.

Ever since he was a boy, Burma(Arya) has nursed the ambition to be like Gurupaadham(Napolean), a rich, powerful dada and the ambition is now tinged with a desire for revenge since Burma's father was unjustly kicked out by Gurupaadham. Burma bides his time until he gets a chance to join Gurupaadham's gang and quickly becomes an important henchman. Gurupaadham's trusts him fully against the warnings of his liteunant Iraa('Kaadhal' Dhandapani) while Gurupaadham's daughter(Kiran Bhattal) falls for Burma too. But Burma hasn't forgotten his goal.

Vattaaram take awhile to get up to speed. With a number of characters, all played by new or relatively unknown actors, things even get a little confusing as we're not sure who loves whom. Contact between Arya and Kiran is also brought about in a rather convoluted way.

Revenge stories, where a son avenges what was done to his father, are a dime a dozen in Tamil cinema. But the path of the revenge is usually overt and straightforward. Even if the villain doesn't know the identity of the hero, he knows that the hero is gunning for him. But things are a little different here. Arya is part of Napolean's inner ring and is trusted by him but inwardly, he is constantly plotting Napolean's downfall and his own rise to that spot. So his actions have to be on the sly and that makes things interesting. The way he executes some of his plans(like the lorry accident) are clever and a couple of them are surprising even to us.

We've been used to Tamil cinema's heroes being good for a long time now and so any hero straying on the dark side automatically captures our interest. Arya here is one such hero. He knows what he wants and is willing to go to any lengths to achieve that. But Saran isn't ready to paint him completely black and so makes a couple of concessions. The story of Arya's dad feels tacked on just to give his actions a moral reason. Its like Saran thought that Arya couldn't be seen doing all he does just to take Napolean's place and so throws revenge into the mix. So though Arya is pretty coldblooded at a couple of places, it isn't as shocking because Arya has a motive. Similarly, Arya's romance with Kiran is not your everyday Tamil cinema romance. But the film's last line feels odd and erases the uniqueness that came before it.

Saran has never had much luck with comedy. The comedy sequences in his movies, usually involving the likes of Charlie, Dhamu and Vaiyapuri, are terrible and serve no purpose other than interrupting the flow of the movies and slowing down their pace. Here he employs Ramesh Khanna and Vaiyapuri but the results are the same. Ramesh Khanna has come funny comments when he tags along with Arya but his segments with Vaiyapuri, brought in on the pretext that they run a store, are plain bad. In fact, since the movie is less lighthearted than usual Saran efforts, the effect of the interruptions on the movie is more than usual.

Arya's weak voice is a real downer the first time we hear it. But he gradually makes us get over it. Thankfully, he isn't made to utter any punch dialogs. Kiran Bhattal appears to be another of those one-film heroines and doesn't make an impression. Napolean is dignified but his dialog delivery at times belies his high-class living. Adhisaya catches our eyes based solely on her dialog delivery. She is refreshingly casual when talking. Idhu Kaadhal Kaadhal... is a nice melodious number while Yaar Tharuvaar... plays as a nice situational song at a few places.


At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

andha jukku heroine paeru kirat...not kiran...!

At 1:23 AM, Blogger Bart said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 1:27 AM, Blogger Bart said...

On the weakside, the way Arya is projected to be the one-point contact for gun dealing in the entire city seemed immature. The arms dealing part - regular tax payers et al was laughable / falling short. Also, napolean's sons are shown as almost buffoons with nut-size brains, with napoleon himself showing no great cleverness apart from the initial test he puts Arya through.. So, it becomes one sided to some extent.
"Kaadhal" Dhandapani does a nice job. Heroine is an add-on. She is Kirat as Ram points out. Comedy is a sore thumb.
But still the movie manages to entertain thanks to fast-paced screenplay. Another point to laud Saran is the guts to keep Arya in the gray shade till the end, not showing him as reformed etc.. (he actually turns black starting from gray :) ).
Whats ur final ranking of Diwali releases? (you haven't reviewed Thalaimagan yet.. but am sure it ranks below).

At 1:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a bit like 'Gangs of New York'

At 4:39 AM, Blogger narayanan said...

the plot rings a lot of bells. Baazigar especially.

At 8:33 AM, Blogger மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

Nice review.. I too saw the movie..First half is bit slow whereas second half is making the viewers to watch..

I too agree with your point of comedy in Saran movie. Only in kathal mannan the comedy was good because of Vivek..

//Yaar Tharuvaar... plays as a nice situational song at a few places//

correct balaji.. i am listening to this song very frequently..

At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the only Deepavali release I wanted to watch and unfortunately it is not getting released here. I have always loved Charan's style and in fact, like the something different comedy in his movies too. And you said it right about Arya's voice - sometimes it is so bad that it gets on your nerves.

BTW Balaji, looking at your Deepavali film reviews, can we conclude that this is the best among the lot? :)

At 10:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

talking of comedy and in general saran's movies...i think his first three movies were his best...both for comedy and in terms of overall quality...
Kadhl Mannan, Amarkalam and Parthen Rasithen were all consistently engaging, had nice, clean, funny comic routines and he seemed to be displaying a sure hand in terms of screenplay and dialogues...esp. after Parthen Rasithen, I really thought that this guy had oodles of talent...but then Alli Arjuna flopped, Saran got desperate, turned to masala and the wheels came off...Gemini, Jay Jay, Vasool Raja, Attagaasam, Idhaya Thirudan...phew...crapfest!

At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nayanthara is still available...for Ram :-)

At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saran is another mediocre masala film maker with limited ideas. He is like KSR, but a little less successful and minus the perversion.

Arya's dialogue delivery style isnt much better than Napoleon's. That will be a constant sore point for him in his race to be the next big mass star

At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

vijay, unge vaay-la sakkaraiya (or splenda, if thats what u want!) kilo kilo-va poada...somehow didnt visit sify to get this "good news!" i'll get on it, rite away!!

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dharmapuri REview from another blog.........

Lifestyles have advanced so much these days that police are kept on high alert with intelligence information indicating a possible Al Qaeda terrorist attack. If only such advancements existed three decades ago, many tragedies like the birth of our very own 'Imsai Arasan' Perararasu could have been easily avoided. The man's image among the masses has made the likes of Gillette consider marketing their new series of razors with the 'Perarasu' tag. Anyways, lets concentrate on the real hero of the film, our very own Gabtun!

Read the Captain sized review. . .

The year 2006 has been the best year for Captain fans with three of his films hitting (and damaging) the screens. Dharmapuri was believed to be a youthful love story when it was announced. I was taken aback then. The only way a Captain film could be a youthful love story was the heroine being a narcissist. Nonetheless, I decided to check out the film while in Chennai. With great difficulty Ferrari, Magix and myself got tickets for the night show at Woodlands Symphony, where we were the only ones who did not drive an auto or rick.

Two villains named Peruchaalikaruppu (Rat black) and Silandhikaruppu (Spider black), while the name of their dad is Mokkaiyan (Perarasu) adichufy in many villagers stomach. [Most of the pre-production work of the film involved naming of characters] The villagers realise this is because they were unable to karachufy the oorlaye periya manushans asthi in their oor, which they decide unanimously in their AiNa sabai meeting under aala maram. Tamil cinemas unwritten rule states that all the 18 pattis are by default headed by Vijaykumar, or atleast by his photo if he is already dead. They believe that Vijaykumar's aathma has not attained shanthi [Yaen ellarum Shanthi-a adayanum-nu aasai padaraanga? Ava enna appadi oru gumeel figure-a?] and only his son Sivaram can karachufy it [appadiye asthi karaikka NIIT course padichirukkanum-la]

Four edupudis of Vijaykumar set out to find Sivaram with a chinna vayasu photo. They however roam from city to city since they actually do not know which city the guy is in [Padathula yaarum logic illa-nu sollida koodaatham]. In Rameswaram they adopt the Singara Velan's 'mayiru kudu Sumathi kaataraen' technique. Joom panni paatha one big image with a yellow-black-red ring as big as Nokia 3310. Camera slightly going up. I was glad to discover that Captain was not standing in the same Singara Velan Kushboo pose. Instead he had turned his head. Ellam oru effect dhaan. Whatever said and done, Captain is a mass hero aachae; mass ofcourse can take more than one meaning here.

Captain intro. Rowdy gets hold of a girl and shoots Police mama who comes to rescue her. Mama cap flies off and Captain catches it. Oru oattai cap-a pudichuttu perumaiya oru look viduvaar. Bad guy shoots at Captain. Bullet in slo mo. I thought Captain was going to bend in Keanu Reeves style and dodge the bullet. But no. I guess neraya ippadi kuninju he had iduppu vali. So he decided to stay still. The bullet hits his chest and bounces back to kill the bad guy! To make this logical, Captain takes an archanai thattu hidden inside his shirt which was fastened to his body by means of an arana kayiru and throws it down. Impressed by this, our Chief Minister has promised to give away free archanai thattus to all families below poverty line and arana kayiru to all the backward classes to protect themselves from terrorist attacks.

Captain and his friend supply chairs for marriages, but still he does all charity as if he is Gulf return. The title song "Annan kotayila kodi parakkamuda" was penned by Peraruvai to suit Captain's image. But he failed to anticipate that a slight mispronounciation of kotai can cause great embarassment to Captain. Meanwhile the edupudis manage to trace Captain with Google Earth since he was the only person in Rameswaram to be visible from a satellite picture.

Start flashback. Vijaykumar was the oor periya manushan who insisted that not even one pudi sand should go out of the village as sand and they should make earthenware and sell it. Idha oru periya mayiru policy-a vechundu kaalam muzhukka he was there. One day, he supplies hundred earthern horses as a gift to the temple and like moolai ketta naai keeps all the horses by the pond so that his brother Mokkaiyan pushes ten horses into the pond to spoil his name. Later when the oor makkal tell him, "Ayya paththu kuthirai kuraiyuthu ya", instead of just replacing them, like periya pudungi he shouts "endra solli poatta neeyii", that they have sandhega pattufied him. Vijaykumar is the closest relative of kavari maan that mankind knows of, so he dies soon, telling them that his asthi should be karachufied in the same oor. When they try to fulfil his last wishes, Spiderblack and the other black stop them. Adhaan matter. Captain also vaguely remembers that he was playing hide and seek with his murai ponnu at that time and was about to open a koodai to check if he can go hit eyes boys!

Now Peraruvai gives a twist. Captain takes a promise from the edupudis that he will do lot of thillalangadi in village, but nobody should complain. The entire village is waiting for Captain's arrival. His murai ponnu is also waiting to sight adichufy him [Kali kaalam]. Captain cleverly swaps roles with his servant who enters the village as Sivaram and his murai ponnu is mighty disappointed. Ofcourse unmai therinja disappointment suicide aagi irukkum. All edupudis now only remember the promise and understand Captain's plans. Idhu enna periya Pokhran anu gundu plan-nu suspense-a vechirundhaaro therila.

Captain will be sleeping in kayathu kattil with the ropes almost touching the ground. Bad guys come to kill him. As and when the villains come nearby he will shake his leg or arm, the bad guys bulti adichu fall down and the kattil understandably breaks. Cut. Next shot. New kattil. One more bad guy and more kattil. Art director suggested that they can use thenna maram instead of thengai naaru to support Captain. Idhu enna Shankar padama onnuku poratha irundhaalum adha Ohio-la porathukku? Peraruvai is budget masala director. So he refuses the offer and manages by making the bad guys run away by showing his face in close up.

Heroines of Captain movies always thurathi thurathi sight adichufy Captain. Ippadi oru role accept pannara alavukku paavam avanga kudumbathula enna kashtamo. Mama yaaru-nu kandu pudikka pora vazhila oru koodai veppa namma heroine. Servant will walk off, but Captain nice-a poi will check if his murai ponnu is still under the koodai. Ippadi patta soft, touching senti scenes-ku match panna mudiyaama dhaan Mani Ratnam Mumbai poitaaru padam edukka. Enna oru emotion. Cha. But if a person sits inside a koodai for 25 years in two bathroom position, she can survive only if she has some compelling reason to do so. If looking at Captain's face 25 years later is that compelling reason, then she'd rather die a peaceful death. This scene thus stands out as the biggest flaw in this otherwise completely logical movie. The edupudis fix up marriage of heroine with Sivaram. Thinking Subramani to be Sivaram, she decides to hang herself and fan-la she kayiru kattifies and stands on a stool. Her father rushes in and vendha pun-la verala paachara maadhiri tells her that Sivaram is Captain and not the servant. That was enough reason for her to kick the stool. But idha graphics-la edit pannitaanga. It still is a budget film. Graphics was used because Captain offered to help free of cost and MS Paint poi rubber vechu stool-a azhichutaaru.

Interval vidarthukku munnadi Captain says oru super punch dialougue to the villains who are trying to kill him. "Enna nambaravangalukku naan nambikkai. Nambaathavangalukku....", tshk tshk tshk, Captain splits into three Captains on screen and the audience wake up in fear, "echarikkai". Actually by default Captain said "thumbikkai", which was later changed during dubbing. Rocking BGM by Srikanth Deva, who plays part time music in films and full time in Kannammapettai.

Now Captain sees that the entire village has named their sons Meiyappan (our kavari maan's name). Meiyappan I, Meiyappan II, Meiyappan III [King George III irukkarchae Meiyappan III irukka koodatha enna?] appadinu one one kid tells his name [now we know why female infant moratlity ratio is high in villages, yes, Vijaykumar dhaan kaaranam] and Captain-ku orey grass itchings. He gets into serious action. There is this ayyanar kovil festival in which oor periya manushan dressed as ayyanar runs around the village. Captain oor-a suthi odina, suthi vara oor irukka vaenaama? That's why he made the servant act as Sivaram. Classy touch from Peraruvai, with layers of the plot slowly being unravelled. So Subramani runs as ayyanar around the village and the bad guys try to kill him, when Captain takes this avataram. . .

Body full-a sandal. Sathyamangalam is now obviously out of the map. In this costume even ayyanar would have been shit scared to come in front of Captain. The bad guys were shattered.

Next, Captain lures Spiderblack and Ratblack by selling them both the same piece of land in return for hopsital turned club and school turned wine shop, which kavari maan had built. After fooling them, he re establishes the school and the hospital in the name of Meiyappan. Innum toilet vaasal-la gents and ladies bathila Meiyappans and Meiyammas-nu ezhutharthu mattum dhaan baaki. School, teacher, students ellarukkum name Meiyappan dhaan. Proxy poda easy.

After enough action, Peraruvai has given a fast paced duet for Captain with orey fast beats and you can see how much weight Captain has lost. Captain's best by far. The human rights commision is recommending this song as a substitute for the death sentence of Saddam Hussein. Rumours say that Saddam has indicated his preference to be hung nude in public instead of being subjected to this. Verdict, as always, is pending.

Climax-la Peraruvai has brought Captain's presence of mind to the fore and made us realise its absence. Spiderblack, Ratblack, Mokkaiyan and MLA come with an army of people to take away sand after realising Captain is Sivaram. Fifty people stand in front of Captain, one behind the other, in height order. One punch from the man. They fall like dominos. The fiftieth person doesn't move away even though he knows that the tenth person has started falling. Selai maadhiri nipaanga and they all fall down making a "aaah" sound. Valikkuthaam. Then without getting close to Captain, they all run to fetch the sand. Captain warns them. Then he takes out an MP3 player remote which has 3 buttons in it and activates 30 bombs with it. How? Diwali-ku orey thiri-la 7 shots vedikkuthu-la, ennikkavathu how-nu kaettirukeengala? Adhey dhaan idhuvum.

The villains then go to school and catch hold of Meiyappans VI, X and XXI. They announce in the speaker that they have got a bunch of Meiyappans with them and they make the Meiyappans cry into the mic to make Captain realize the seriousness of the issue. Captain rescues the kids and appifies mannu on the villains face and they gasp for breath. When they are about to collapse, Captain pours water on their face to save them. They open their eyes. See Captain. Die.

Appuram "Annan kotayil kodi parakkumada" paattu replay panni embarass pannitaanga Captain-a, paavam.

Peraruvai also made a guest appearance as a lawyer, mentioned all his movies till date and assured the audience that he will surely direct more movies. Irukkara mokkai poraathu-nu Steven Spielberg range-ku dialogue vaera. Narayana indha kosu tholla thaanga mudila da, marandhu adichu kollunga da!

The film had a lot of political flavour to it. I understand they are trying to project They Mu Thi Ka [not ketta vaarthai, katchi name]. Adhukkaga jetty kooda yellow-red-black la podarthu is a too much. Captain also has a sandhanam-kungumam (yellow-red) combo always on his forehead. If you are wonderin where's black, hey, that's our man! Poraatha kurai-ku lotsa Captain praising dialogues like . . .

'Ivaru naadodi illa da, naadodi mannan' [Next enna ivaru Sudhesi illa da Paradesi-a?]

'Ivaru kootani amaikka maataru da, thani aala dhaan nipparu' [Thani aal-ey kootani maadhiri irundha appuram kootani edhukku thaniya?]

Overall it is a treat for Captain fans, especially for the guy sitting next to me who made a big issue about somebody dancing during the title song saying that he can't see Captain on screen. Sathyama this happened. I was thinking appadiye Captain maranjuttalum!!

Thats just all I can remember from the movie!! Long time aachu, ellam google amukks pannitu pogavum :D


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