'Ilayathalapathy' Vijay is back to his forte, that is mass masala commercial cinema. Nothing surprising about that but the surprise factor here is the director of the film M.Raja who had only done films with his brother 'Jeyam' Ravi as the lead hero in Tamizh so far. There was no hiding that this film is a pucca commercial movie from all sides involved in the film and nothing novel was expected nor promised by the film crew. The only additional attraction is that, this is Vijay's highest budgeted film.
Vijay who's last was the decent off-track 'Kaavalan' is back to what he does best. He has a wonderful screen presence and a bundle of energy and joy. He excels in all departments with laid-back dialogue delivery, cute comical expressions, angst and fire in stunt sequences and flawless dancing skills in the songs. Good to see him experiment with different hairstyles in the "Maayam Seidhaayo" number. All his usual acts, checked. Genelia D' Souza and Hansika Motwani are two dolls used in this film and the former has the meatier role. Not to say Hansika has lesser screen presence, but Genelia's role has more importance to the script and Hansika just being an additional attraction. Genelia as a journalist was decent though her dubbing was out of sync at certain times. She was gorgeous in her simple and sweet wardrobe. Hansika's role as a bubbly village girl was a little bit odd but she has good timing and expressions, thanks to her experience as an child artist. Santhanam was very humorous with the not-so-loud and simple comedy tracks. It was not among his best but it certainly raises laughter, especially with his terrific comedy timing and besides that, some comedy portions were done by Suri and Paandi. Saranya Mohan was cute and homely and she too did what was expected. As usual there are many character artistes in this film as how it was with M.Raja's previous film. MS Bhaskar, Pandiarajan, Manivannan, Sayaji Shinde, 'Parotta' Suri, 'Black' Paandi, 'Kadhal' Thandapaani, Singamuthu, Vyapuri, Raaghav, Abhimanyu Singh, Vincent Asokan, Ilavarasu, 'Crane' Manohar and etc,etc all were part of this film and each of them had a couple of scenes between themselves.
Technically the film has some decent work. VT Vijayan's editing was flawless and he made sure the film had all its "ingredients" checked and at the same time, there was no unnecessary dragging in the film. Priyan's cinematography captured the action sequences well, especially the harbor fight and the climax fight and not to forget the train 'battle' scenes involving a helicopter as well. Stunts were choreographed well and in a simple manner and credits should go to both 'Stunt' Silva and 'Anal' Arasu and Silva's work in the harbor fight sequence was the best. Milan's sets were cool and trendy, especially with the songs. The usage of colorful and intricate sets, elevates the joyous mood of the songs and film. Vijay Anthony is a big asset to the film as his music contribution has helped the film to reach audiences faster. All the songs in the film are good numbers and will remain in the charts for quite some time and his background score too was not bad, either. "Chillax" and "Maayam Seidhayo" had wonderful sets, especially the former one. "Molachu Moonu" stands out as the pick of the lot in the film and will certainly be one of Vijay Anthony's best songs ever. It was well picturized by having all 3 lead characters, in the lush,green and cool Kashmir. "Sonna Puriyadhu" is the grandest song ever shot on Vijay and the director should be appreciated for maintaining a colourful and grand scenario throughout the song with hundreds of dancers and set work. "Rathathin Rathame" was in-tune with the story and delivered the necessary sentiments required for the film. The director and costume designer could have come up with a more novel and original idea for the costumes of the 'super-hero' alter-ego of Vijay. The costume was copied from the popular gaming series "Assassin's Creed".
This film can be labelled as M.Raja's most commercial film ever. The script is meant as a tribute and was developed based on the one-liner of the Telugu film "Azad" which was developed by him and his late-friend Thirupathysamy who directed "Azad". The Telugu film was a remake of Amitabh Bachchan's "Main Azaad Hoon" which in-turn was inspired by an old Hollywood film, "Meet John Doe". M.Raja made sure that all the necessary elements were not left out in order to project Vijay as, not only a mass hero but as a super-hero as well. There was no dull moments in the film and the pace of the movie was kept stable throughout. The placement of the songs were smooth,the comedy portions were not boring, the sentiments were not too cliched and the intended message was delivered appropriately. The train fight sequence was a bit over-the-top considering they have used the services of veteran Hollywood stunts coordinator Tom Delmar. Surprisingly there were no punch dialogues in the film used by the protagonist. Vijay meanwhile reiterates his real life political stand in a certain scene. What makes us a little surprised is that, after a lengthy high-octane action scene, we are usually accustomed to assuming the film is about to end but here M.Raja continues the screenplay and reserves the most sentimental scene for us and builds up a emotion-filled climax for the protagonist who finally, delivers a motivational message for the audiences.
Vijay has a another commercial entertainer and a sure shot winner, at-least for his fans and M.Raja has used all the elements required and made available to him, in a very effective manner. There is nothing new story wise as the concept and theme is as old as the hills and Vijay himself had done it in his previous films. What works in this case is that, there were no false promises made and what was delivered, is what was expected of originally, from the director and the lead artist.
Ratings: 2.5/5 STARS
7am Arivu... A big film with huge expectations thanks to the coming together of 3 names, that is Suriya-AR Murugadoss-Harris Jeyaraj trio and in addition, some of the best technicians in the Indian film industry. Though the movie started off with big expectations, nothing was told to the outside until the audio was launched, where the trailer of the film was released along. The trailer took the expectations several notches higher and there was no stopping marketing wise. The fans were bombarded with new news each and everyday until the release. What really made the proceedings intriguing was the revealing of the Bodhidharma character which the film revolves around. A mystical man from Tamil Nadu who was totally forgotten about in his homeland whereas in the other side of the world, he is being revered as nothing less than a GOD and the founder of martial arts. So, how did all this build-up work?
Starting off with the cast. Suriya was exceptional in his hard-work and tremendous effort to bring out the role of Bodhidharma. Be it his opening shots as the Pallava King and the transformation of the character into "Damo". He was majestic in his opening shot as the king and he brings the needed stillness and calmness for the role of the monk. His hard-work shows off in the stunt sequences, be it the fight scenes in the Chinese village or the climax sequence. Not to forget, the tricks he learned for the circus artist role as well. Bravo and hats-off to him for pushing the boundaries of Tamizh cinema heroes in putting efforts for their characters. Shruti Haasan's made her Tamizh debut here and she does justice to her role and has the intelligent look needed for her scientist character Subha. Good work on her side for working on the Tamizh syllables and difficult words. She can be the daughter of "Ulaganayakan" but it is unfair to expect her to speak as flawlessly as her father. Anyways, a decent debut for her and it is a welcome relief to see heroines getting plum roles, which in case nearly equal to the hero. Johnny Tri Nguyen, does what is expected of him and being an expert in martial arts, he does his role well but there was some kind of stiffness around him. All the other character roles were performed appropriately.
As mentioned earlier, this film has some of the best technicians in the Indian cinema and their talent can be seen in the film. Shabina Khan' and Anuvardhan's costume work was apt for the film and kept simple. The VFX team did a good job with the opening shot of the 'Gurukulam' depicted early in the film. Cinematographer Ravi K.Chandran, one of the best and most wanted in Indian film industry, is a huge asset to the film. His work is top-notch and his stamp of work i evident throughout the film but certainly the opening 20 minutes shot in China has some beautiful colors and views and the climax scene as well with various different shots and angles. Proves he is one of the best. Another major role player is Rajeevan. His artwork is impressive and helps bring the story to life. The village erected in China, Kancheepuram "Gurukulam", the science laboratory, the circus props everything needed big amount of effort and work and his team has pulled it off brilliantly. Will be one of his best in his entire career. Anthony could have done little bit better in the editing, especially with the length of the film but more of it later. His work in the climax fight was classy. Peter Hein had put in lots of research from his part as well and it shows off here with the superbly choreographed Chinese village and climax fight sequences.
Coming to the songs, Harris Jeyaraj has disappointed his fans with average songs this time. Most of the songs have a heard before feel to it and do not really excites the audiences. Though the songs are average,the picturization were unique. "Oh Ringa Ringa" has an incredible concept of having 1000 dancers under at the same time under the guidance of choreographer Shobi, and that too with Suriya in a heavily crowded public places. It was a commendable job and the crane shot was well used but the song doesn't really reflect the grandeur of having 1000 dancers and many close up shots were used instead. "Mun Andhi" is a slow romantic number, picturized in Krabi Islands of Thailand. Beautiful close up's of Shruti and Suriya and many different shots such as under water camera and helicopter shots were implemented. "Yellae Lamma" meanwhile was done in Hong Kong and different colour shades were attempted, giving it a cool and chilled out look. "Yamma Yamma", a pathos song was picturized solely on Suriya's emotions and Ravi K.Chandran's tilt-and shift method was put to good use and the train station set erected by Rajeevan was near perfect. "Innum Enna Thozha" and "The Rise of Damo" was done in montage sequences and were used to establish the proceedings of the screenplay.
Captain of this big 'ship' AR Murugadoss deserves a big,big round of applause for the amount of work and research he had to put, to come up with this script and above all to deliver a thumping and necessary and timely message, interwoven in the script, to the watching audiences. But there is one BIG fault in the script and that is the length of the film. He had a brilliant concept, which is very hard to be made into a regular Tamizh commercial cinema and he tried his best in coming up with one but he fails to execute it perfectly. Murugadoss's previous films like "Dheena", "Ramana" and "Ghajini" all had fast and thrilling screenplays but here, though the thrill is there, he drags it too much with unnecessary elements. The "attempted" romance track between Suriya and Shruti didn't work out as there was no proper chemistry between them and it was not necessary to the film and thanks to this "attempt" songs were churned out and were thrust into the film and the placing of the songs were ill-timed. Besides that, the "Nokkuvarmam" or hypnotism issue was over-used, especially with the long-drawn out car stunts scene.The film did start off in a fantastic manner, depicting the journey of Bodhidharma in a documentary manner with over-voice. The film then loses the grip it had on the audience after that and we had to wait for sometime until a drama comes up and sadly the pace drops few times and had to be picked up later on as the film progresses. This slows the screenplay badly and leaves the audience feeling exhausted and stretched. It is not wrong to dream of a many interesting concepts but it is very difficult to put a few of them in one single film and this is where Murugadoss falters by failing to come up with a tight screenplay. Life and times of Bodhidharma, the historical facts on ancient culture of Tamizh people, mysterious martial arts skills, scientific research advancements, political issues aided by bio-warfare, backdrop of circus environment, all these is a bit too much for audience to ponder upon at a time. Even if its possible, then the commercial aspects should have been compromised. Commercialism doesn't work all the time audiences do have matured a bit to accept realistic cinema and Murugadoss should have boldly moved away from thrusting in regular commercial elements. Scientific-logic issues gave way in the end to accommodate commercial sentiments, so that the take-away message can be sent across loudly.
In conclusion, 7am Arivu is a good film which could have been much, much, much better and salutes to AR Murugadoss for his thumping message.
Ratings: 3/5 STARS
Director Sargunam is back with a fresh, period film after the sleeper hit Kalavaani. Sargunam should be praised for handling a difficult subject in his second film itself, though this was his first script. He is known for the minute detailing, which was evident in Kalavaani and his earthy comedy portions. He teams up with the same team which delivered Kalavaani apart from few artistes and technicians.
Vimal continues his good run here, this time as an aspiring teacher. He got all his emotions and mannerisms right. He could have dealt more with the voice modulations and dialogue delivery because it sounds the same in all his movies. Apart from that, there's nothing else to complain about him. The debuting heroine Iniya aka Shruthi, who made an appearance as Cheran's sister in "Yudham Sei" has impressed us with her emotions and body language. She scores in the scene where she pours her heart out to Vimal and getting disappointed with the end result. Sargunam has etched out the heroine's role very well but her mannerisms are more contemporary and does not look like someone who belongs to the 60's era and that too from a remote village. Anyways, she should he applauded and it's a good chance missed for Amala Paul who was the original choice for that role. The supporting casts like Bhagyaraj, Thambi Ramaiah, Ponvannan, Thennarasu, Suri and etc are life-like and very natural. Kumaravel should be accounted for special appraisal for his role as the old "Kuruvikaarar". The group of small kids are natural as well and they make the scenes more lively.
Vaagai Sooda Vaa is of high-quality product when it comes to the technical aspects. Cheenu, the assistant of Sabu Cyril has done a wonderful job in recreating a whole rural/rustic village of the 60's from scratch. All the detailing from, the hut houses, to the properties on the set, the vehicles used, everything drips in hard work and minute details. Cheenu has certainly made his mentor proud. Debuting music director Gibran scores very well in both soundtracks and background score department and certainly raises the question of why he was not used in films before this. The songs are very contemporary yet it suits the period film very well."Senga Soolakaara", "Porane Porane" and " Sara Sara Kaathu" are the pick of the lots. Gibran has a very bright future in Tamizh cinema and looking forward to seeing him coming out with more film soundtracks. Cinematographer Om Prakash adds weight-age to this film and Vaagai Sooda Vaa will be one of his best works in his career. He gives the right sepia tone throughout the film to match the sets created and to bring the barren, dry looks of the hot land. "Sara Sara Kaathu" song was picturized beautifully and each shot was done in a very poetic manner. The fish going up the tree shot was brilliant. Editor Raja Mohammed could have done better in the first half to make the movie move faster. Costume designer Natraj's work was also natural and he should be commended for doing a hard research. KP Sasikumar's make-up especially on Kumaravel was brilliant.
Sargunam has a very good and tender message to convey through this film but it takes a long time to deliver the message, especially with the lengthy first half and the songs in the second half slow down the proceedings even more. Sargunam's detailing is very evident throughout the film. The settings, the society of that generation, the culture, the beliefs and customs, the communication style, everything was done in detail and class with no mistakes or faults. He has included lots of smile-worthy scenes such as the maths riddle between Vimal and Thambi Ramaiah, Vimal's problem with a particular goat, the kids' apprehension towards a new teacher and their mischievousness, Iniya's interest in Vimal and etc.
In conclusion, Sargunam has dished out a neat, decent, thoughtful movie with pleasant emotions, wonderful music and in-depth perfect detailing. It would have been better if the screenplay was trimmed a little.
Ratings: 3/5 STARS
A movie long in the making, Muran was the talk of the town once UTV Motion Pictures came into the fray, deciding upon watching the film. Cheran and Prasanna make up a interesting pair of male leads as both are distinctively different from each other in style and school of film making. One common thing between both of them is that, they need a hit badly to salvage their careers, especially Prasanna to survive in the industry. The director in Cheran has taken some sort of sabbatical as he has been acting out in more movies after his last directed film, "Pokkisham" was a dud in the box office. Debutant Rajan Madhav, a former assistant of Mysskin has promised a decent thriller and judging from the trailers, it was indeed promising. How did the movie fare?
The two male leads are the pivots which the story centers on. Cheran has delivered a neat and excellent performance. He delivered marvelous performance in his last "Yuddham Sei" and he continues with this film as well. As the musician who is trying to get a decent break, who underplays his emotions and yet delivered what was expected of his character. The scenes where he is challenged by Prasanna and the 'torment' he goes through in the second half are proof to his acting credentials. Kudos to him. The real scene stealer however is Prasanna, who has rocked as Arjun, the spoilt brat son of a multimillionaire. It's reminiscent of hi "Anjaathey" days but with some more style, flair and smart dialogue delivery. The real achievement is the manner in how he projected the character. Tamizh cinema tends to stereotype the "psychologically-affected" characters with disturbing mentality, rough body language and violence filled behavior, but here Prasanna, was a more believable and casual in his manner and approach, which is a welcomed change. Bravo to him for adding another dimension to his acting career. Among the heroines, Haripriya has more screen presence. Nikitha and Suma Bhattacharya are adequate for their roles, but the dubbing for Suma's character was odd and out-of sync in certain shots. Jayaprakash, Prathap Pothen, Neelima Rani and others slip in and out of the screen play, making up for the other character roles.
Technically, the film has some decent work. Saajan Madhav, the brother of the director handles the music and his background score was decent. Among the songs, the "Etho Ithuvarai" number is hummable. Padmesh handled the cinematography department well, with the highway sequences being the highlight. Arun Durairaj kept the film short without being stretched but he could have trimmed some scenes in the first half to speed-en up the pace. JPK Prem's art direction was in-tune with the film but he could have chosen more variety of color tones to prep up the screen as after a certain period of time, the proceedings look dull as the same colors are used over again. Rajasekar's stunt was simple and reflected realism. The fight sequences looked more of like a physical struggle between individuals in a fight, rather than actual stunts scenes, which actually gives the film more realistic look.
It is difficult to assess Rajan's actual story conceiving talent as this film is a local adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock's classic "Stranger on a Train". He does have some intelligent writing skills and the dialogues exchanged between Cheran and Prasanna during the highway sequences are proof to it. The way he composes certain shots are similar to the style of his mentor Mysskin. The first half is a little slow but the second half picks up the pace, with the addition of a sudden twist in the middle of the second half.
Muran is a decent thriller with some wonderful and composed acting from the two male which is worth a watch.
Ratings: 3/5 STARS
After the superb performance in Avan Ivan, Vishal is back in a film which belongs to his forte, the action genre. Helming the director's seat is Prabhu Deva which raises the bar and expectations of the film. The teasers and trailers promised some pumping action sequences. It's an important film for Vishal, reputation and financial wise as his last decent hit was Thamirabharani way back in 2007 and since this is his home production. As for Prabhu Deva, his Engeyum Kadhal was a disaster and to be on the safer side, he has chosen to remake a hit Telugu film called Shouryam. As the title suggests, will this film be a cracker ?
Vishal embodies the perfect Tamizh cinema action hero with his dark complexion, tall and well built physic as well as good looks. His radiates the macho look very well and it suits him perfectly, a throwback to his Sandakozhi and Thimiru days. There was no overreaction in any sequences from him. His dialogue delivery has improved a lot and the manner he performs his stunts scenes are ferocious. He's very much fit to be in the action hero category. Sameera Reddy has nothing much to do, as expected in mass masala films. She should be commended for trying comedy and she got her expressions right. Not to forget, she looks very pretty and attractive. Vivek's comedy fails to arise laughter and he only impresses in bits and pieces. It's pathetic to see Sayaji Shinde dishing out similar performances and that too as the same, lame, shouting villain. Wonder what happened to the man who portrayed Bharathiyar in that classic film, Bharathi. Poonam Kaur gets a small role to play, which she did neatly. Oorvashi and Seeman's brief roles, bring a smile to us with their perfect timing. Devi Sri Prasad was impressive in his cameo in the opening song.
Vijay Anthony's score is adequate and mild and the pick of the lot will be the "Ichu Ichu" number, youthfully written by Vaali sir. "Enna Aachu" and "Ippadi Mazhai" numbers can get more popular with repeated airings on television and radio. His background score was not loud. Among the songs the "Enna Aachu" has been captured in the beautiful Ladakh region but the promised sizzling number "Bombay Ponnu" featuring Sophie Chaudary was a damp squib. RD Rajashekar is one of the best in the cinematography field, especially the fight sequences, "Kaakha Kaakha" and "Bheema" being testimonials to it. He has brilliantly captured the fight sequences, especially the one right before the interval and the climax portions with the slow motion effect, well used. His angles and placement of camera elevates the impact of the fight sequences. Anal Arasu, who did a wonderful work in "Rowthiram" continues his work here, though he should have avoided the 'bouncing' effect and some over-the-top moves. His one-to-one combat sequences was well choreographed. Chaitanya Rao's costumes for Sameera was very pretty and apt which accentuates her good looks. V.T Vijayan's editing was clean and neat making the film crisp. RK Nagaraju's sets especially the villain's house was noticeable.
The biggest problem with the film is the outdated, worn-out, boring and lame script. The story is as old as the hills and was seen hundreds of times on screen. Prabhu Deva tries to prep up the excitement level by infusing some "time-limit" sequences in the second half but it actually fails to achieve the intended result. The "Pokkiri" effect can be seen here and there in bits and parts. Though the film doesn't drag and is made crisply, the sequences are out-dated and not fresh at all.
End of the day, Prabhu Deva and Vishal has dished out a film which has decent performances, decent cinematography, decent music, decent action sequences but a bad script and story.
Ratings: 2/5 STARS