Monday, December 10, 2007

Oram Po

Oram Po is a film in the same mould as Chennai 600028. It is based on a very local sport, it has an interesting group of characters and it tells its story with the same style and quirky sense of humor. Things don't come together as well as they did in Venkat Prabhu's debut film but they do come together with enough energy and fun to create an entertainingly fresh film.

Chandru(Arya) is an auto driver in Chennai. More rewarding than the wages he gets are the spoils from the illegal auto races he participates in during weekends. Bigle(Lal), a mechanic, and Chandru team up for these races and have been unbeatable so far. Itching to beat them is 'Son of Gun', a rival mechanic who has his eyes on Bigle's shop. Chandru falls for Rani(Pooja), a biriyani seller's daughter, not knowing that her parents want her to wed Bigle. Meanwhile, a dada's diamonds get lost in Chandru's auto and the dada's henchmen are looking for him.

Autos aren't very glamorous vehicles. They might be cheap, maneuverable and ubiquitous but they are not exactly stylish or graceful (which is probably why even Baasha, which lent an unprecedented level of respectability to autos and their drivers, did not feature an auto chase!). So the movie has a tough task of making the auto races interesting. But it does a good job with good help from the cinematography, editing and background score. The races aren't particularly thrilling or suspenseful but are picturized in an interesting fashion. But I felt the film reveals its cards too early. The first race is picturized in superb fashion with split screens, POV shots and slo-mos. But the directors have little such technical gimmicks left over for the remaining races - including the all-important final race - and so they seem a little repetitive and bare.

The movie exhibits an uncommon - almost offbeat - sense of humor in its characterization, picturization and script. This sensibility gives it a lot of energy and keeps us smiling throughout. Even simple sequences like a man obediently transporting a jar of marbles from Mumbai to Chennai or a duo looking for a particular auto driver are made interesting by the way they are picturized. And how often do we a see a song(Gun Ganapathy...) about a peculiar character who doesn't show up anywhere else in the movie but in that song?!

The 'Son of Gun' is one of those characters that can make or break a movie. Here he definitely 'makes' the movie. The film is filled with likeable characters(there is no real villain) but the 'Son of Gun' makes sure that none of them stay in memory. His dialogs(sample: paNam varum pogum... aanaa vandhaa dhaan pogum!) - as well as the way he utters them - make every scene he is in, a delight.

One of the tracks in the movie involves illegal auto races and betting. Another involves a dada looking for some diamonds he has lost. So it is surprising that the most serious moments in the film arise out of the romance. The heavier moments are a little jarring considering the light-hearted tone of the rest of the film. And its not like the romance needs the seriousness to get us on its side. The delightful earlier portions do that job very well indeed.

Nowhere is Chennai 600028's influence more evident than in the climax. Oram Po tries to adopt the same unusual approach, giving us what we expect but not exactly how we expect it and introducing a touch of irony into the proceedings. But it doesn't have the same effect that the climax of Chennai 600028 had. What was almost exhilarating there leads to a lingering sense of incompleteness and dissatisfaction here. The director duo's intention to make things different and surprise us right upto the end is laudable but this is one time when a more traditional, predictable and crowd-pleasing ending might have worked better.

The jury is still out on Arya as an actor. He is fine in the light-hearted scenes but finds the emotional scenes a bit tough to handle and fails to be convincing. Pooja doesn't really fit in in area the movie is set in. But she does make us accept her with a low-key performance. Arya and Pooja make a nice pair though. Lal is restrained and sincere as Bigle. But John Vijay is definitely the movie's find. His wide eyes, hand-gestures and leering dialog delivery make 'Son of Gun' a unique, memorable character. Idhu Enna Maayam... is a nice melody and is picturized well without make it an awkward duet. Kozhi Kaalu... is picturized in a manner and location that do justice to its fun tone and lyrics. Yaar Ivanai... is an unnecessary item number, rendered even more unnecessary since neither the dance nor the setting fits in with the rest of the movie.


At 2:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of those movies i chanced to see practically before everyone else - this time atleast :). Arya did the unkempt cool boy thingy well for the 4th time. Wonder how he will do a decent guy act. the songs were all quite unique. None of them followed the lines of each other keeping me guessing on the way each song would take off. I liked the unexpectedness of the ending. Where i was awaiting a long drawn 'hey am on the upper hand.., now watch me' scenes.. it was quick and sweet. John Vijay is to watch out for.

At 12:03 PM, Blogger D.E.V said...

John Vijay also acted in "unale unale" as Vinay's friend in Australia. At that time also his comedy was funny but u thought otherwise..

At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey balaji where do u watch the movies? in a theater(how much does it cost? the last indian movie I saw in theater was Machakkaran cost for one person here in boston was $12, i thought it was a rip-off) or on dvd (do u know where to get cheap dvds, ayngaran is getting costly)? i didn't know this movie released on dvd already. or are u catching it on a website (if so, what website?, i can't find any good websites).

At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Skanda, John Vijay was not a part of Unnale Unnale, that was Srinath - who also appeared as an annoying character in Jeeva's previous venture 'Ullam Ketkumae'.

And after catching up on Evano Oruvan - I'm thinking that a 4 star is on the cards :)

+ Billa premiere tomorrow and Nayanthara in London, =]

At 9:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

balaji thalaivar birthday munnittu any special post?


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