Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Evano Oruvan

One man deciding to cleanse society off its evils has been a popular subject in Tamil cinema for a few years now. And its not difficult to see the reasons for its popularity. Corruption, atrocities in the name of bureaucracy and lack of civic sense are things viewers come across on a daily basis and so when the protagonist tackles these and brings about a positive change with his actions, it is easy to identify with him and cheer him on. Films like Indian, Ramanaa, Samurai, 4 Students and Anniyan presented this subject in a commercial format. Evano Oruvan tackles the same subject in a realistic fashion. That dose of realism works for the subject and allows us to identify with its protagonist even more and so it is unfortunate that the movie loses that touch of realism after a while.

Sridhar Vasudevan(Madhavan) is just one among the thousands of middle class men for whom life has settled into a routine. He is married to Vatsala(Sangeetha), has two children and works in a bank. A principled man, he is irked by the corruption that has crept into all walks of life. Things come to a boil when a tea-stall owner charges 2 Rupees more for a cool drink and that makes Sridhar embark on a crusade to correct the issues that he sees.

What separates the protagonist in Evano Oruvan from the heroes in those other commercial films(note that Madhavan here is a protagonist; Kamal, Vijayakanth and Vikram were heroes) is the lack of premeditation. Madhavan is frustrated by society and takes action but he doesn't have a plan in mind. The fact that his problems are realistic isn't surprising. What is new is that his responses to them are also realistic. He wants to change society but doesn't know exactly how. So his actions are born out of frustration and that makes him far easier to identify with.

The initial collage of scenes from Madhavan's life gives us a snapshot of his daily grind; the monotonous rut his life has fallen into. Only a few incidents that irk him(the issue with the water lorry, the school donation, the bending of rules at work) are actually illustrated but that quick rundown of his life helps us understand that he must have had many similar situations in the past, where his rigid stance and firm adherence to his own principles led to problems(Sangeetha mentions this in one of their conversations too). So when he finally snaps for a small issue at the teakkadai, we understand that it is not just because of that particular incident. The issues have been building up and that incident was just the last straw.

Though realistic and down-to-earth, the movie essentially follows the same narrative track as other movies with the 'man vs society' theme - Madhavan goes on a rampage after he reaches breaking point, unknowingly becomes a hero and is chased by the police. Madhavan's transformation into a kind of vigilante is short but understandable. His initial experiences give him the impression that resorting to violence does get him justice and so he gradually starts tackling bigger problems.

Unlike other films where the heroes go after men responsible for propagating the issue, Madhavan here has no set agenda. He doesn't go after anything in particular and corrects issues he sees on his way. For a while, this works. The things he encounters are natural and we are with him during his acts. But after a certain point, the director becomes over-ambitious. It becomes harder to believe the things Madhavan simply stumbles upon and so the events themselves fail to have an impact. The incident at the hospital and his stumbling on a drug operation are unconvincing and cinematic. Thankfully, the movie rediscovers its touch in the climax which is suitably low-key and manages to have an impact.

Madhavan plays a regular, middle-class hero just perfectly. He brings out very well his frustration at the way the system works and is sincere and convincing. His basic demeanor doesn't change once he turns vigilante and that is what keeps the movie grounded in reality even after the situations turn a little cinematic. And that is what makes even his grand monologue not sound over-the-top. Sangeetha is good as the housewife who just wants a better life and is frustrated when her husband's principled stand comes in the way. She is very natural when complaining to him or shouting at her kids. Seeman's strained dialog delivery and limited expressions seem a bit odd initially. But he does suit the role of the police officer who is torn between his duty and recognition of what Madhavan is going through.


At 12:18 AM, Blogger Jam said...

Hey there,

Although I haven't yet watched the movie and therefore, am technically not qualified to review it, I went ahead and did it anyway at my blog.

However, one thing that struck me the most about the movie is the similarity of the subject of the movie to one of Madhavan's earlier ones, Thambi. Although after reading your post, I get the feeling that it is the 'hero vs protagonist' angle that makes Evano Oruvan different from Thambi.

In any case, this is a must watch movie for me, considering that I've liked Maddy in most of his movies so far.


At 4:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flawless much 'stars'?

At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i totally agree with you, that drug and hospital incidents r totally out of hook, i thought they brought down the quality of the movie...anyways maddy really underplayed his character, but movie did't live up to the hype.

- Ramesh

At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

EO is a freemake of Falling Down *ng Michael Douglas

At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon, exactly what I was going to say - sounds like 'Falling Down'. That is a brilliantly shot movie.

I don't normally notice such things, but something about the lighting in that movie just gave the feeling of oppression, which Michael Douglas's character was going through.


At 9:18 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

jam, guess what u wrote would be a preview rather than a review :)

i'd call it more similar to 'anniyan' than 'thambi' :)

like u, i was very impressed with the trailer too. and the 1st half did meet the expectrations created by the trailer. but after that, i think the director was forced to pad the running time and brought in a couple of episodes that spoiled the movie for me. but defly worth a watch :)

prin, thanx! 2 1/2 :)

ramesh, yep those 2 scenes brought down the film rather badly. thank god for the climax :)

anon/prakash, the film is an official remake of the marathi film 'dombivili fast', which i think was inspired by(not sure if that was official or unofficial) 'falling down'. quite a few similarities right down to maddy's initial weapon of choice. (baseball bat there, cricket bat here :)

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked the film for Maddy's efforts. But somehow his "snapping" did not feel enough of a reason! I know with the craps, - that's getting released - movies like this should be encouraged. But still I think the movie was just OK. Well intentioned, quality product but - Far from being a mster-piece!

But even more disappointing was Balaji Sakthivel's "Kalloori"!! Total dud. I can not believe the reviews are praising this movie so much. I think Balaji is "Kadhal" hangover still. He needs to explore other areas (even a little carefully cast and made "Samurai" route maybe good!!)

At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Falling Down Michael Douglas/Joel Schummacher were able to convey the protoganist's internal turmoil without any explicity dialogs/soliloquy. I am afraid Maddy/Nishikanth failed miserably in this aspect.

At 2:37 PM, Blogger mitr_bayarea said...


Thanks for the review, have been wanting to watch this movie. We just saw The Namesake and given that was a heavy movie (just blogged about it), waiting for some time to pass before we catch this one.

At 2:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have seen Falling down several times. The movie while essentially about an imbalanced man's rampage, also works well as some sort of a dark comedy on a different level. A few scenes were outright funny and the acting was top-notch. The cop character played by Robert Duvall had a sub-plot too and was engaging. I am not sure if Evano Oruvan managed to achieve all that

At 2:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2.5 stars really? - seems a bit low compared to Sivaji - considering this has got the best reviews of the year!

At 6:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji, Your review was right on the money. Several review sites had hyped the movie up so much, that I was expecting a classic. One site even said something like... if you were awaiting the movie that takes Tamil cinema to the next level, it is here!!! After watching the movie, I felt like asking that reviewer if he had watched any movies of Kamal, Shankar et. al. Like you have mentioned, the story resembles so many society-oriented movies that we've been used to by now, that it actually seemed cliched to me. The director even follows a time-tested technique of showing the public's opinion about him by making people from different walks of life giving a one-liner of what they think about him. That scene seems straight out of a Shankar movie. The only difference between his movies and this one is there are no unnecessary distractions like comedy tracks, fights and such, but hey, we have movies like Ram, Katradhu Tamil that have done that time and again. All said, it's definitely a commendable effort, but not even close to what sites like rediff, sify etc. would have you believe.
BTW, I'm eagerly awaiting the movie that takes Tamil cinema to the next level (read: Dasavatharam :-) )

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

apala, the 'snapping' itself i didn't have a problem with. as i said, i saw it more as a last straw kinda thing. it was his experiences after the initial convincing ones that was a letdown :)

'kalloori' review should be on bbreviews tonite :)

anon, maddy had only 1 longwinded dialog. compared to most tamil movies, thats pretty good :)

mitr, yes this would defly fall under the 'heavy' movie category :)

vijay, the cop(seeman) had a couple of scenes where his family is shown. but defly not as involving as duvall's character in 'falling down' :)

prin, not a good idea comparing stars, esp. when the movies are as far apart as possible in every aspect :)

as for other reviews, i've found that when a movie attempts to be different from the run-of-the-mill movies, most reviews really eulogise it. so not surprised at the raving reviews. but the end product wasnt as good as it could've been :)

arun, exactly what i was thinking. though i hadn't read the other reviews b4 seeing it, the 1st half laid expectations on what kind of movie it was. but the 2nd climax(except for the climax) didn't meet those expectations :)


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