Cast: Sivakarthikeyan, Nayanthara, Prakash Raj, Fahadh Faasil
Director: Mohan Raja
When I saw Remo, it was quite apparent that it was a Sivakarthikeyan film right from the first frame. But what I love about Velaikkaran is the fact that it’s completely a Mohan Raja film. After making his mark by staying away from remakes and directing Thani Oruvan, it was obvious that the man has serious concerns about the society we’re a part of. Velaikkaran is a reflection of those concerns and it has been showcased in quite an interesting fashion.
The film sees Arivu (Siva) as a slum dweller who wants to work hard and be successful in life. Who doesn’t do that you may ask? But Arivu’s social responsibility can’t be compared to that of an average Joe, for he aims to improve the welfare of those around him too. But a series of events snowballs the workings of a common man into something big and what happens after that is the crux of Velaikkaran.
As far as the artist list is concerned, the film has nothing short of an ensemble cast. We’ve got Mrinalini (Nayanthara), Aadhi (Fahadh Faasil), Kasi (Prakash Raj) and many more, whom I prefer to keep under wraps. The film actually has more hands than needed to be honest and considering that most of them are quite huge in their own rights, it was rather disheartening to see them with minimal frame time. For someone who made a couple of us chuckle when he cried in the climax scene of Maan Karate, Siva has come a long way and it looks like the lines that’s got to be crossed for over-acting isn’t blurry anymore to him. He has played to his strengths and carries the boy-next-door persona proudly. This has in turn made Velaikkaran deliver the best of him and while he doesn’t drop down on his knees and cry, he proves his mettle with strong dialogues and small bursts of emotions.
Fahadh Faasil makes a splendid entry to Tamil cinema with this film and I’m honestly astonished with the clarity in his diction. His performance is subtle and though his character could’ve been a little stronger, the audience wouldn’t mind seeing more of him. As someone who believes more in his brain, there was a pinch of Siddharth Abimanyu in that manipulative Aadhi character. Nayanthara for me is a disappointment in this film. The fact that she just delivered a brilliant Aramm earlier this year only makes it worse. The film would still be the same without her character and the patchwork of trying to make her significant is blatantly visible. That said, she looks her usual best and even better in the song sequences.
The story slams hard with its message about over-consumerism, capitalism, visvasam (just going on with the flow of -isms) and how marketing is used to plunge products down our throats though we don’t need them at the first place. But it rarely gets preachy despite reminding me of a few scenes from Maatraan and Kaththi. But unlike those films, our hero can’t take down ten men with a single blow. He rather wins their heart by showing how their work is important to the grand scheme of things. The research behind the script is evident and to many, the film will be an eye opener. I’m sure a thought you never had for all these years would show its face when you’re standing in the queues during intermission in order to buy some excruciatingly expensive popcorn. It did for me!
On the technical front, Raja has tried to make the film racy as possible and though it works predominantly, the moments when the leg is off the gas is obvious. He scores with emotions and be it the relationship of a mother and her son or that of colleagues, the world he creates is beautiful. As always, the Anirudh-Siva combo has worked well and Karuthavanlaam Galeejam and Iraiva are sure to win your hearts. The makers know which of the songs have what it takes and have reduced the rest of them to mere montage shots. The background score though could’ve been better. Muthuraj’s art works is extraordinary as the entire slum is a set that he has created from ground up. The fact that they can’t be differentiated from actual buildings is his success.
The film does have its fair share of duds. The story takes its own sweet time to develop and screenplay, though not incoherent. loses steam at places. The second half seems to be a tad longer and as mentioned earlier, while the preach-iness is kept to a bare minimum, it still gives us the feel of being in a lecture at times. A few factual errors couldn’t be missed either. But on the whole, Velaikkaran, unlike a pack of chips, is packed to the brim with messages and shines due to some exciting moments.