Sunday, December 02, 2007


With each new movie, it was becoming increasingly clear that with his first 2 films Thamizh and Saamy, director Hari had flattered to deceive. None of the director's subsequent films showed the spark or freshness evident in those films and he appeared to be stuck in a rut, recycling old plots and themes. His latest film Vel further underscores this. A film that is a throwback to old times in more ways than one, the only consolation is that on account of its lack of vulgarity and gratuitous violence, it is better than Aaru, the previous collaboration of Hari and Surya.

When one of their twin boys is stolen from them, the parents(Charanraj and Saranya) are grief-struck. The stolen child grows up in a village as Vetrivel(Surya), loved by the entire family that adopted him. The son who is still with his parents grows up to be Vasu(Surya), a private detective. Love blossoms between Vasu and Swathi(Asin), the hostess on a TV channel. One a trip to the village, Swathi spots Vetrivel and informs Vasu of his look-alike. Vasu is convinced that Vel is his brother and wants to bring him back home but Vel is unwilling to leave the family that raised him as their own.

Everything about the movie is old-fashioned. From the story about brothers separated at birth to the the long-winded dialogs spoken by Surya(he even rattles off a long dialog with rhyming sentences a la T.Rajendar at one point) to the overload of sentiments(father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt... if there's a relationship not touched by sentiments in this film, I can't remember it), the movie is an unabashed throwback to the 80s.

Vel marks the first time Surya and Asin have been paired together after Ghajini. But viewers looking for a repeat of the lovely romance from that film will be sorely disappointed. The romance here is shockingly chauvinistic(the take-off for the romance is when Surya rates her 'suitability' for marriage after comparing her to her friend and at another point, she says that a wife should give up her dreams and support her husband after marriage!) and under-developed and the couple exhibits little chemistry. There are a couple of situations(which still could've been exploited better) that get some smiles and some amends are made for the blatant chauvinism, but for the most part, the romance is weak and silly.

Whatever the complaints against Hari, one thing he can't be blamed for is crafting a slow film. He has always managed to deliver screenplays that keep moving forward without giving us time to think too deeply about the goings-on. That's what saves Vel too. Though the movie is about twins separated at birth, one of the oldest plot points in Tamil cinema, the story doesn't always proceed in the way we expect it to. Plot points that we expect will be dragged on(like the twins knowing about the existence of the other) are presented earlier than expected and plot developments, atleast upto a certain point, aren't always predictable.

Movies with heroes in dual roles usually have fun by presenting different characteristics in the two roles. It makes the movie interesting for the viewers and the actors welcome it since it gives them a chance to play different characters in the same movie. This was the tack followed in movies like Amaidhi Padai, Vaalee and Azhagiya Thamizh Magan. But there is no difference between the 2 characters played by Surya here. Both of them are good, fearless and honest - in other words, typical Tamil cinema heroes. So the usual plot point of making them switch places does nothing much here. There is not a lot at stake if their real identities are revealed and so the usual fun, excitement and suspense arising out of their mistaken identities is completely absent.

After all the hullabaloo about separated twins and mistaken identities, the movie comes down to the fight between Surya and Kalabhavan Mani. Hari goes into Saamy mode here as Surya relies on brain and not just brawn to bring him down. A couple of his techniques are good and its nice the way the professions of both Surya and Asin are used in his game.

Surya has no trouble playing the hero in this commercial outing. He has developed enough screen presence to carry off the aruvaal-brandishing hero role and delivers his threats with the forcefulness required. Asin looks cute as always but is barely seen in the second half and has only one scene of any importance. 'Kalabhavan' Mani is loud but rather ineffective as the villain. Vadivelu has a comedy track that, following the recend trend in his comedy tracks, mostly involves him getting hurt in imaginative ways.


At 4:46 AM, Blogger Ganesh said...

I knew that this film must be either 1*(Useless) or 2-2.5 film.(Timepass.Watchable.)Going by your review,the film thankfully seems to belong to the latter.(2*)
//Though the movie is about twins separated at birth, one of the oldest plot points in Tamil cinema.//
Way too old(Enga Veettu Pillai on 1965.)
Wud like too kill time watching this.

At 5:10 AM, Blogger Ganesh said...

What about Machakaran?

At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Director Hari
oh so this film is all about vettu ,kuthu,aruvaal,hero shouting aeiii(with echo effect) , dandanakka dandanakka songs ,TATA SUMO jeeps flying here n there.for how long???????????? y do dirs like hari ,perarasu still exist?

the only thing missing was a family song which usually helps in reuniting the seperated twins.

i think ATM is better.

At 10:18 AM, Blogger narayanan said...

Am guessing 1 or 1.5 star. watching the first 10 mins of the Vetrivel story I was thinking if TR was the dialogue writer for this movie :) the movie kept oscillating between mokkai to something to watch for the first half. the second half was pretty much a Saamy hangover.

i felt the private detective role was pretty interesting, but it was used in a silly way.

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i saw it on saturday and the movie turned out the way i thought it would be, an over dramatic masala film with the same old twins story..dont get me wrong, it wasn't a horrible film to pass time with, but the film just looks too similar in one too many ways... even though everyone is claiming atm is a horrible film and vijay didnt act well and shriya was there for just glamour, what do they say about vel....ATM had a different and interesteing story that included a double role for the hero...vijay did distinguish his characters better than suriya..(although i do feel suriya is a better actor than vijay)...and shriya had a much more meatier and meaningful role than asin...if thats not enough, i can say with strong conviction that atm songs were better than vel's songs...vel wasn't a bad film and seems to be doin well in india because of its fast-paced masala mix...while atm tried to defer a little bit and seems to be rejected by people...i personally would rather watch atm over vel.....someone care to make a case for vel?

At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, ATM is def. better than Vel........

four more days to go :)

At 7:26 PM, Blogger narayanan said...

Bharath, I dint watch ATM yet. One thing is, I didnt feel the need to distinguish between the twin chars, for a given it was identifiable who was the character.

vel wasn't a bad film and seems to be doin well in india because of its fast-paced masala mix

Its an ok movie (was able to sit through the movie), certainly not as worse as Aaru or Arul. I went for an 7pm show last week in PVR, Bangalore. The theater was barely half full, wonder how well its doing in TN.

At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

atm had a better storyline. But screenplay was pretty bad and reminded 70's for me. vijay's acting in the second role was horrible to say the least while the first one was good .. he underplayed in that one..second one reminded me of sivaji rajini mottai character.. and was there really any difference between those unrelated two vijays ?? Even twins have slight diff in body outlook and twins wont have 3.5 days beard.. !! a good script but beaten to death with the poor film making in every single cinematic aspect

now vel despite being a typical hari movie.. it ensures that it will stay there. i didnt like it.. script was poor. but surya's acting in double role was way better than vijay. his dialogue delivery and body language was good though he copies father's body language in many scenes. the first 30 mins were horrible..

and narayan sonna maari.. dialogue writer must be perarasu + vijaya tr :-) so.. irrespective of the poor script.. it slightly scores from atm on the acting part..

At 3:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

narayanan and anon, in atm i felt that they intentionally made the vilain vijay act like the hero vijay...bc if the two were far too different from one another then shriya and the friends wouldnt have believed the villain vijay bein their guru(vijay)... i only brought that point up narayanan bc many reviews claimed that point in assaulting vijays acting and criticizing atm ...anon i feel that poor screenplay was the pitfall of atm...and that 2nd vijay was meant to be annoying just like a villain...although it seems that vijay cant act as a villain anymore :)
p.s- prin, four days until what?

At 3:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said... it just me or does anyone else feel like atm was just a tad slow...especially in the first half?

At 7:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think polladhavan is the clear winner in the deepavali race. pls dont even start an argument on whether atm or vel is better cos both are bad. its only a matter of which is worse.

At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bharath, Four days till EVANO ORUVAN silences the critics :)

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hari yen ipdi sori maari padam edukaraaru ipolaam!

the movie that i enjoyed and Admired the most was...his very first movie - thamizh. that was such a wonderfully scripted movie that i watched more than once just to listen to the dialogues...all his other movies have been passable (not a great fan of saami) or unwatchable (aaru)

At 12:48 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

ganesh, yeah it gets 2 *. I'd say it was watchable for the most part :)

I liked 'Machakkaaran' and 'Kannaamoochi Yenada' even less. Just not enuf time to write the reviews :)

fans, yes it has all that :)

narayanan, 2 * :)

bharath/prin, i'd rate them about the same. ATM had better story but final product was a mess while 'Vel' had old story and direction but managed to be well-paced :)

narayanan, defly better than those 2 :)

anon, yeah that was pretty much what i felt about both movies :)

anon, for me 'pollaadhavan' is defly the winner :)

ram, yeah u've mentioned this b4 too. i'd rate 'thamizh' and 'saamy' almost the same. but u're right about the script in the former. superb lines whether in serious or comic scenes :)

At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have polladhavan on my computer and will watch as soon as im done with my tests next week...i usually like dhanush movies, so hopefully this is no different as all of the reviews are getting my hopes up...on another note, did anyone hear about vijays request to dharani about the kuruvi is said that vijay asked dharani to tone down the larger than life image of the hero, i guess going for more of a coomon man type image, lets see how this works out...kind of refreshing to hear that vijay is looking to slowly change his macho image...

At 12:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoever said VEL is bad here, they are just blind hater of such masala movies.

VEL is definitely worth watching and it is clearly No.1 in Box office at both TN & other places in the world. 2nd is Polladhavan.

At 6:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

songs.. how can you write and get paid for dialogues as songs..

worst songs are in vel

At 10:31 PM, Blogger Srivatsan Sridharan said...


Catch Evano Oruvan, a sure standout of the recent movies :-)

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You people are braver than I for continuing to watch Tamil movies :)

I'm looking forward to Evano Oruvan and Dasavatharam, though I am getting a little tired of Kamal's obsession with changing his appearance. Other than that its hard to get excited about any upcoming releases.

At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

kumar..sry to break it to you, but vel was bad....entertaining but just another run-of-the-mill masala film that has nothing new to dissapointed with the public in india making this movie #1...


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