Saturday, September 24, 2011


mankatha-arjun-23-09-11"Dare to play a baddie"? Most heroes in tinsel town won't find anything strange about this phrase. That being the case you wouldn't have to be a genius to decipher that here we are dealing with an industry neck deep in stereotypes when you get to see the words "dare" and "baddie" used in the same sentence. Hence it obviously comes as a whiff of fresh air when a top hero decides to cross paths with out-and-out villainy with no strings attached and if he plays it with such an irresistible, carefree charm like Ajith does in his golden 50th venture, not many would have much to complain about.

Vinayak (Ajith), a corrupt cop, suspended from duty for aiding a thug to escape the clutches of law, teams up with a few others to pull off a heist involving a monumental sum of money, intended to be used for illegal gambling during the IPL cricket season and as is the case with most heist films, the trouble starts when the players start double crossing each other in order to keep the money for themselves. Duh, do not let the familiarity of the plot put you down just yet.

If you take Ajith out of the picture, you have a movie which succumbs to every possible cliché in the heist film genre complete with those explanatory montages shot stylishly in black and white and that "unexpected" twist in the end (which to be fair to the director, IS quite unexpected and gives you a little jolt) but the trick is to NOT take him out of the picture because he and he alone makes all the difference and elevates the movie from what it should have been to what it ends up being.

Oh where to start with the man of the moment! Right from his salt "n" pepper hairstyle which has been making headlines from the day the movie was launched to his acceptance to play a middle aged man sans morals and whose naked greed for money practically unleashes the beast within, "Thala" has dared to violate every single golden rule of Tamil Cinema which makes a mass hero. He disrespects women and elders, does not give a damn about his ladylove, pollutes the screen with endless puffs of smoke emanating from his cigarette and mouths enough swear words to give those respectable folks at the censors a hard time with all the muting and beeping. The best part is, all this seems to come so naturally to him and he does it so unabashedly, with so much panache that you find it hard to hate him. How many heroes would have dared to take up such a character? What guts boss!! Hats off!!

Having said that you can't help but feel that he would have benefited a lot more if the movie itself had supported him by crisper pacing and having lesser roadblocks in the form of songs. Also the need to have such an ensemble cast beats you. Most of the talented cast members are frittered away or not made use of and the less the said of the female leads the better. They do not even have enough screen time to look good! In fact apart from Prithvi (Arjun), the cop hot on Vinayak's heels and to a certain extent Vaibhav and Premji (Venkat's regulars) everybody else's roles are reduced to cameos.

Technically the movie is fabulous. Yuvan makes up for a couple of lukewarm songs with an absolutely rocking background score and the camera does a good job in keeping up with the action sequences found aplenty in the film.

Everything said and done credit must be given to the director for providing enough snap and meat in the script to Ajith's character, which if under developed could have been disastrous for the film. He has managed to tower over the script and that in the end has made all the difference.


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