Siddharth after a very long gap of 7 years has returned to the Tamizh cinema movie scene with this film. Accompanied by 2 lovely ladies and a good technical team as the crew, this film evoked curios response from the teasers which showed impressive visuals and when the audio was launched, even more people were interested in the movie with the songs being received well. With such good responses, the expectations on the film was fairly good. Alas, the movie did not live up to all the expectations it has created.

Beginning with the cast, Siddharth has delivered a very matured performance, thanks to all the experiences he has garnered over the years of doing several Telugu and Hindi films. He did a good job in all emotions, be it romance, or panic-stricken, anguish and guilty-ridden reactions and etc.. He holds the attention of the audiences with his charm and presence throughout the film. Nithya Menen manages to keep up with Siddarth in her portions and she did it effortlessly. Her best sequences would be the ciname hall scene. Priya Anand did a decent job as well and she had the more serious and meaty role of the 2 heroines. Though there are room for improvements, she acted well and dubbed well too. Sricharan, Mouli, Geetha and the rest of the small cast did what was expected from them but Mouli was the most impressive, pulling out witty and funny dialogues in most of his scenes.

The two USPs' of the film are the cinematography and music. Director of Photography, Balasubramaniem did a fantastic work in handling the cinematography for the film. Using RED ONE camera throughout, the film was sparkling in all frames and kudos to him for capturing the subtle beauty of Kasi, Chennai and San Fransisco with extra emphasis on lighting. Definitely the talking point for cinematography in this film will be the opening song, "Rules Kidaiyathu" which has been shot using the Phantom Flex all over and the output is simply stunning with all the slow-mo actions, beautifully captured. Besides that, the "Sandhikaadha" song has been picturized well too. Credits must be given to 2 other technicians for the good-look factor of the film and they are G.Balaji for the processing of the digital images and internationally reputed colorist Kevin Shaw for giving the film a international class quality in terms of coloring. Meanwhile, music by Sharreth is very different and experimental but soothing to the ears. Pick of the lot will definitely be the "Nee Korinaal" number followed by "Santhikkatha" and "Thuru Thuru". Though his songs were very nice and melodious, the background score was a bit of a letdown where unnecessary loud music was thrown in. Art director V.Selva Kumar's interior of the houses was lifelike. Costume designer Komal Shahani and make-up artist Bhanu's works are very well noticeable in the form of the lovely and beautiful looking heroines.

Story and screenplay by Jayendra and the Suresh-Bala duo was dissappointing. Probably the saying "too many cooks, spoil the broth" can be used for this factor. Although they had a story to tell, the screenplay was very rickety and doesn't go in a flow. Besides that, there are some loopholes and questions which went unanswered in the film. Dialogues wise, the film has a few pretty good lines, especially in the opening scene when Siddarth says to a small boy "Naanum Manovaa irukka aasaipaduren" and the one-liners of Mouli.

Overall, the movie had a good opening but by the end of the film, viewers tend to feel dissappointed as there was no punch in the film even when the director had story and a good message to say. Also it is best to avoid presenting scenes shot in one particular country and then passing it off as another. In this all the hospital and airport scenes were done in Malaysia but showcased as happening US in the film. Viewers nowadays cant be fooled by such gimmicks anymore.

Ratings: 2.5/5 STARS



Avan Ivan, one of the most eagerly expected films of the year, thanks to the hype around Bala and the coming together of two of Tamizh cinema's macho heroes, Arya and Vishal. Arya has been going great guns in the box office with most of his recent films becoming hit and for Vishal, this is a crucial film because his fate is totally the opposite of his friend. Besides that, Bala had promised a commercial based film this time, deviating from his usual pattern. How is the outcome?? Quite honestly saying, it is a disappointing one from Bala, script wise.

The major backbone of the film is the performance of the male leads in the film. Vishal was simply mind-blowing and definitely this film will be one his best ever performances in his whole career. Performing is one task, but doing it with a squint eye, is a totally whole new level. Right from his opening scene, where he cross dresses as woman dancer and dances brilliantly, and his interactions with Ambika and the part where he had to climb a 70 feet tree, he has performed an awesome job. The ultimate scene is definitely the 'Navarasa' performing one.. Hats-off to Vishal. His body language, expressions and voice modulation which has a slight effeminacy touch with the near perfect dubbing of actress Senthikumari for Vishal's woman voice, was simply out of the world. No surprise if he brings in lots of awards. Arya meanwhile plays more of a secondary role, but he too did well especially with his rocking and expressive body language and dialogue delivery which really shows how he has matured into a good actor. His best scenes will be the interaction with GM Kumar in the waterfalls and also the climax where he scored really well with his emotions. GM Kumar had a superb comedy timing and effortless performance, not to forget the dare-bare act in the pre-climax. Besides that Ambika, Prabha, the small boy who comes along with Arya and the police inspector all did a decent performance. The biggest drawback was the heroines. Not to say they didn't do well but usually in Bala's films, heroines have tremendous potential to score in acting but in this movie both Janani Iyer and Madhu Shalini have nothing much to do with the former having some scenes to perform while the latter literally has so less dialogues which won't even come to a single page!! RK making a late entry as villain was OK and he should be appreciated for the fight sequences. Suriya makes a decent cameo.

Technically the film has a decent work. Suresh Urs's editing is perfect, Muthuraj's sets especially the interiors of the Zamindar palace and the cow shed are authentic. Vasugi Bhaskar's costumes are natural and not over-the-top. Suchitra Chandrabose's choreography in the opening dance sequence and Arya's dance sequence with Prabha were lively and natural. Super Subbarayan's stunts are realistic and kudos for the actors to perform them well. The final fight scene in the cow ranch and in the swamp area was raw and hard hitting. Arthur A.Wilson's cinematography was brilliant as usual, especially with his angles in the fight sequences and also the camera movement focusing the characters and the beautiful shots of Theni are noteworthy. Yuvan Shankar Raja is on a hot streak and it continues in this film as well but sadly the songs from the album are missing in the film and replaced with bit-songs apart from the "Rasathi" song which has a slight difference from the album track. His background score impresses in a few places like the track involving Vishal-Janani especially the "Kaavalkaara Kizhiye" bit song and also the climax scenes.

Among Bala's 5 films, this one has the weakest script although he did not fail to transport us into a remote village world filled with various type of people whom we never met or will not meet in our lifetime. Bala himself admits that his films has no story and he makes films based on characters rather than a story-line, but his previous films indeed had some story which left a lump in throat of the viewers. Alas here, the emphasis has been given to comedy portions in the name of commercialism, and only the last 20 minutes having the real Bala touch. It might be purposely done by Bala, keeping financial business aspects in mind, but after more than an hour, viewers get tired of waiting for some story or plot and instead get more of the buffoonery acts of the male leads. It looks like Bala wanted to play safe by putting in comedy scenes bearing his trademark with the two leading heroes, and at the same time to safeguard his reputation, throws in a serious plot in the last 20 minutes. This can be a dampener as threading a middle path in Tamizh cinema is akin to walking on a tight-rope and guess Bala has slipped this time. Yet, dialogues by Ramakrishnan complements the characters drawn out by Bala.

Avan Ivan is watchable thanks to the brilliant performance of the male leads and Bala should be more careful when he wants to attempt a commercial cinema.

Ratings: 2.5/5 STARS



Expectations started to grow once the movie was announced and the initial posters which was designed on the theme of graphic novel style, captured the attention of cinema goers. After a lengthy post-production, as well as the 'war' with the censor board, Aaranya Kaandam finally got released with less cuts.. Thank GOD for that. The following trailers and teasers really intrigued the audiences who were expecting a different film from débutante Thiagarajan Kumararaja. Aaranya Kaandam is the first neo-noir film to come out in Tamizh cinema and judging from the teasers, it's very obvious the director is very much inspired by Quentin Tarantino and Alejandro González Iñárritu style of film making. For those who watches this film, they will fall into two categories. Either they hate it for wasting their time or love it with a big grin on their faces.

The film is ably supported by fantastic acting by all the 6 protagonists. Starting of with Jackie Shroff. The veteran has shined in this film and he has done it effortlessly. Be it the agony of not able to make love to his mistress, or the attempts to learn English, delivering humor dialogues and expressions, he has brilliantly performed the role of an ageing gangster head akin to a old Lion. The initial scene of him checking himself out on the mirror and baring his teeth is the proof of this metaphor. Besides that, the scene where he gives some money to Ravi Krishna and then pulling back a note, and the final scene of him in his room after the shower are the highlights. It would have been great if he dubbed for himself. Sampath, as the simple and daring/smart henchman is at his best. His voice modulation was good especially for the chasing scenes and the tea shop with his fellow henchmen. Besides that the performance in the final action scene was brilliant as well. Ravi Krishna, surprises everyone with a stunning performance as Sappai. As the weakling, he draws the sympathy of the audiences and also performed very well especially in the scenes showing his vulnerability. Somasundaram and Master Vasanth as the father-son duo was eccentric and marvelous. Somasundram was too good in his role as the loud-and-foul mouthed loser and his dialogue delivery was hilarious especially in the rooster-fight sequence. Master Vasanth showed lots of maturity in handling a complex role and kudos for him to pull it of in a such young age. The highlight of their relationship was the affection between both father and son which was covered all the while in their arguments and bickering squabbles. The final scene of Master Vasanth is the testimony to this. Yasmin Ponnappa, the débutante did a good job as the naive mistress and her dialogue delivery with a modulation style of her own is good. All the other co-artists gave out restrained and cool performances without no over reacting and exaggeration.

Technically the film delivers high quality results. Cinematography by Mumbai based PS Vinod was very natural with no artificial lighting and the angles chosen was apt for the film which was gloomy and dark, highlighting the underworld. Editing by Praveen K.L and N.B Srikanth is smooth and they should be applauded for the editing of the chase sequences which had fantastic sound engineering as well. Stunts by Dilip Subbarayan was superb and the climax fight sequence deserves a big applause from the audience. Violence has never been captured 'beautifully' in Tamizh cinema so far. Yuvan Shankar Raja, was absolutely fantastic in his background score which was very pleasant, different and unique and it really complemented the scenes very, very well. After Illaiyara and AR Rahman, it's Yuvan he does brilliant background score in Tamizh cinema. The melodious scores, though contrasts with the violent scenes action scenes, elevates and 'beautifies' the shots. Bravo to Yuvan!!

Thiagarajan Kumararaja should be appreciated for delivering an international class film. It is experimental in nature which might not work for normal audiences who just wants to have some good time, but it satisfies the thirst of different film lovers. His script was solid with no hiccups and he should be applauded for not making any changes to it and for fighting with the censor boards for getting the film released with no cuts. His dialogues are a class apart and it's loaded with lurid details and also with awesome dark humor which rarely gets shown in Tamizh cinema. The "Kamal-Rajni" episode, the Gajendra and Gajapathy narration by Sampath, the banter between Somasundaram and Master Vasanth as well as the wailing of Somasundram, are loaded with dark humor which really makes people to smile cheekily. Not to forget, his dialogues were of high intelligence and are true gems for examples, the comparison of wearing dhotis between the rich and the poor, a woman's point of view of being a woman, the "worm-fish-man" explanation, the love of a son for his father, the flawed identity of human nature and the also highlighting the point that an enemy's enemy is a friend but more important, they are still enemies. These are the biggest highlights of the film. Besides that, Kumararaja should be appreciated for bringing out the best from his actors and that is due to the near immaculate characterizations of the artistes and framing of scene sequences. The film is a bit sluggish in it's pace but as the film progressed, that sluggishness turns out to be the best choice in moving the film. A special thanks to him for incorporating classic 80's period songs, which really adds zing to the film. The simple title credits and the beautiful and metamorphosis-tic title of the film, are the indications of the director's brilliance.

Aaranya Kaandam, a rare film in Tamizh cinema and kudos to the SPB Charan for coming up with this daring and experimental film, which leaves the cinema lovers, smack their head and feeling "Damn, that was cool".

Ratings: 4/5 STARS