Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Vettaiyadu vilayadu (aka Hunt and Play)

Language: Tamil (Action/Drama)
Director, Story and Screenplay: Gautham Menon
Producer: Manickam Narayanan

Music: Harris Jayaraj
Cinematography: Ravi Varman
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Cast:
Kamal Haasan .... DCP Raghavan
Jyothika .... Aradhana
Kamalinee .... Kamal's wife
Prakashraj .... Arokiaraj
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Runtime: 150 min
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After the stupendous success of his previous movie, Kaaka Kaaka, Director Gautham has tried his hand at yet another cop flick; this time starring his biggest idol - Kamal Haasan.

Kamal, as his fans would agree, is a versatile but aged actor. He has always looked upon his movies to be different from the mass productions of Tamil cinema; always striving to take acting to a different level with respect to the story lines and his character potrayals. Having said that, Vettaiyadu Villaiyadu (VV) comes across as an ordinary movie for this great actor. If you are a big Kamal Haasan fan, I would implore you to turn away at this point of time; otherwise read on for a matter-of-fact review of VV.

Initially, VV starts with a grand entrance by DCP Raghavan (Kamal) who seems to just beat the goons to a pulp, but not before challenging them to gorge out his eyes and then thrashing them in their own territory. The scene then shifts to the life of senior police official Arokiaraj (Prakashraj), whose daughter Rani goes missing but whose finger turns up on their doorsteps. Raghavan is them summoned to help Arokiaraj (Arok) get to the bottom of this matter when it is determined that Rani was alive when this gory incident happened. With his (seemingly obvious) deductions, Raghavan seems to trace it to the scene of the murder and discovers the surgically mutilated and ravaged body.

When not much progress is made after that, Arok and his wife decide to move to New York to settle and get away from the memories of everything that reminds them of their daughter. Life goes on...until one day Raghavan gets a phone call announcing the gruesome murders of Arok and his wife. The scene then shifts to NY where Raghavan remembers his promise to Arok to find the killer and is now hell-bent on getting the killer to justice. If fate has to intervene, she does and Aradhana (Jyothika/Jo) ends up in the next room to Raghavan in the hotel that he stays. Their meeting happens in the worst possible scenario, but after that they seems to share a special bond -- Raghavan trying to weave his life together after the death of his wife (played by Kamalinee) and Aradhana trying to overcome her unruly husband who is trying to get a divorce from her.

Here is where the movie becomes a cliche. The scenes in NY where Raghavan is going after the killer(s) is shot so nonchalantly that it ends up evidently boring. Some of his detective musings show the NY police in such a poor light and others make it look unbelievable, e.g. the scene where Raghavan walks endlessly through a forest and dilapilated houses to finally come to the burial ground of some murdered bodies, probably something that even a blood hound would have found difficult.

The killers are revealed in the movie soon after that and then there is the usual chasing and hunting that follows it. The scene, as expected, shifts to India where the killers have avoided the police (Question: Why did the killers go back to India, of all the places? Don't even try to answer it...read on). Aradhana now accompanies Raghavan to India to get her kid back to NY. Add to this a romantic interlude and a few completely inconsequential songs, while the killers are on a killing spree (what else do you expect killers to do?!) and you feel that it's just not justifiable. Gautham seems to have been forced to do this for the sake of giving Jo more screen time.

Gautham has also tried to link Raghavan's character with the main character in 'Kaaka, Kaaka'; unfortunately that's where the similarity ends. How Raghavan chases the killers, how Aradhana get embroiled in the chase, and what happens in the end is not surprising given Gautham's penchant for his (now) classic and predictable endings.

The good parts: Kamal looks young, Jyothika looks thin. The bad parts: Prakashraj is wasted, everyone else is just in awe of Kamal, except the fanatic killers who seem to have a penchant for air-travel (and killing, of course).

Skippable, if you wish, and better to end up watching one of the other Tamil masala movies or better still, you can look forward in anticipation for Kamal's upcoming movie, 'Dasavatharam', where he supposedly plays 10 different roles.

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