Ajith’s character in Arrambam keeps mouthing, “Keep it simple!” What’s more, the filmmakers of the film do precisely that, working on getting their basics in place, but not going that extra mile to make the film the perfect Diwali entertainer. The film has just about enough of a plot, a couple of well-executed action sequences, and a reasonably pacy narrative flow, all centred around satisfying ‘Thala’ Ajith’s fans. In that, admittedly, it succeeds big time.
Arrambam sees Ashok (Ajith) responsible for a series of Bomb blasts around Mumbai, all buildings owned by a particular builder. With girlfriend Maya (Nayanthara), he uses Arjun (Arya), an expert hacker, for his purposes by blackmailing him using the latter’s girlfriend, Anitha (Taapsee) an aspiring media reporter. Arjun manages to expose Ashok to the investigating officer (Kishore) and Ashok is arrested. Maya then reveals Ashok’s story to Arjun and Anitha – he was an able and honest police officer from the bomb disposal squad of their anti-terrorist wing. While on a mission with good friend (Rana Daggubati), the latter died due to the faulty bullet-proof vest. Ashok uncovers a scam wherein the quality of the vest was compromised and behind this shady deal and receiving kickbacks were his senior officer (Atul Kulkarni), the Builder and the Home Minister (Mahesh Manjrekar). Ashok was then framed and his friend’s family destroyed including his 8 month pregnant wife. Arjun and Anitha decide to help Ashok and Maya. Ashok escapes from police custody to get back at those responsible for the scam and the death of his friend…
Such films do not aspire to be anything other than mass entertainers. So, one has to forget logic, loopholes, etc, etc and see whether the ‘Marana Mass’ items work. In this, it’s a mixed bag as some do and some don’t. Music, a key ingredient in these films, is a weak point here with no really memorable song and a ghastly, ghastly item number. The story, while engaging enough in the first half, settles into highly typical and predictable revenge territory in the second as Ashok’s back story and motivations are revealed – of course, he cannot be an evil character, he has been made one and it’s easy to guess what the issue at hand is. The second half also lacks the ups and downs and twists and turns that could have elevated it to a truly good mainstream Tamizh padam. Even the pre-climax action sequence where the exchange of hostages takes place is executed poorly. As it is, Arrambam ends up being watchable enough and even time pass overall in its better moments but that’s really about it.
In an Ajith dominated show from beginning to end and it has to be said here – ‘Thala’ does deliver. There’s more than enough for the stylishly presented Ajith to do in the film for them to whistle, clap, and dance with glee. Though it has to be said fans have always been blind in the adoration of their stars, and even an overweight ‘Thala’ struggling with the nimble dance steps in his opening solo song is applauded loudly! Arya has his odd moments and does bring a sense of the comic at key moments, but it’s really Nayanthara and Kishore, who make the best impressions outside Ajith. It’s good to see a strong female character in mainstream Tamil cinema and Nayanthara carries off the role with attitude and style. You seriously believe she can kick real ass. She is looking her age though especially when one sees her closer shots. Kishore is easily the best of the actors as the tough and morally upright investigating cop with a great screen presence to boot as well. Atul Kulkarni and Mahesh Manjrekar, the North villains are so-so, with the former wasted. Taapsee is a disaster as the bubbly, chirpy PYT and we all know how wrong these types of roles can go and end up looking gratingly OTT, which it does. Rana Daggubati’s cameo is well-worked out and is integral to the plot. And oh, one had even forgotten that Suman Ranganathan existed.
As mentioned, there are some well-executed action sequences, particularly the operation to rescue the hostages post interval, some interesting use of both well-known and not so well known locations of Mumbai, and a certain polish, though inconsistent, in the overall look and feel of the film. Still, it is not up to the mark as in the director’s earlier slick-looking ventures, Billa (2007) and Sarvam (2009). The colours in the Holi song go for a toss with the extremely poor DI in this sequence and the music doesn’t help it either. In fact, Yuvan Shankar Raja fails in both – the songs and the background score, while editor Sreekar Prasad keeps the rhythm and pace of the film going smoothly.
Summing up, Arrambam works, and even works big time one might add, as an offering for Ajith admirers. Otherwise, as a film in totality, it is just average fare at best.
Tamil, Action, Drama, Color