With his previous films like Villu early on in the year faring badly at the box office, Vijay had a lot riding on Vettaikkaaran to reclaim lost glory. Consequently, he and Director Babu Sivan have tried to play it safe, too safe, in fact, with typical formulaic fare with standard dosages of action, comedy and romance.
Right from Vijay’s entry, the film gives you a sense of déjà vu as it reminds you of old Rajinikanth starrrers. He runs behind a police jeep driven by a hit-and-run drunken policeman and then jumps onto a white horse, catches up with him and bashes him up. A string of incidents like getting lovers married and helping the poor get justice establish him as the typical Tamil film do-gooder hero.
The story (if one can call it that) is like this. Ravi alias Police Ravi (Vijay) is a happy-go-lucky Tuticorin student who idolizes IPS Devaraj (Srihari) and joins up for police training in Chennai. He drives an auto to pay for his expenses. One day he is shocked that the auto owner (Manickam Vinayakam) seems to have lost all his vehicles. On questioning, he finds a local rowdy Chella wants his daughter Uma (Sanchita Padukone) in exchange for the return of the vehicles. Ravi bashes up Chella and finds himself in a soup as he is directly in conflict with Vedhanayagam (Saleem Ghouse). Meanwhile, a romance blossoms in between when he meets Susheela (Anushka) at the railway station and instantly falls for her. Her grandmother (Sukumari) encourages the romance. Ravi comes to know that his idol Devaraj has lost his career, eyesight and family because of Vedhanayagam…
The narrative, like all Vijay fare that depends on pure unadultrated masala with one item following another, is jerky and lacks a overall coherence. For instance in the second half of the film, Vijay looks like he has taken over the mantle of running his area as a counter to the rowdy Salim but suddenly he is shown running a detective agency. The first half tinged with humour moves quickly enough but the second half gets too laborious as the film drags on to its conclusion.
Vijay goes through his role as usual, since it’s similar to the kind of roles he has played before. He performs adequately but the novelty factor is missing as there is nothing new in any of the items the film has to offer. He does have a couple of punch lines thrown in that should delight his fans. And admittedly, there are a few remarkable scenes like the confrontation scene between him and Saleem Ghosh where he emotes well, his eyes blazing anger. His forte has always been his dances and fights and these he performs as well as ever.
Of the rest, Anushka, back in Tamil cinema after quite a while, looks pretty but there is no scope at all for her to perform. She looks ravishing in the song and dance sequences and then disappears in between. Sukumari is vivacious and lights up the screen whoever she appears with her incessant chatter and humour. Srihari is dignified and powerful in his role as encounter specialist and is most convincing in his transformation into a bitter drunk after his family is murdered. However, Saleem Ghosh seems a rather weak villain as he barely utters a murmur when Vijay delivers his fiery dialogues. For the most part, he has uninspiring deadpan expressions on his face which is surprising, considering he is a talented performer. Maybe his role seems to have been toned down for Vijay to score in their scenes together. Sayaji Shinde as the cop brings the right mix of cruelty and sarcasm to his role. There are too many other side characters in the film who are simply wasted.
Some of the songs by Vijay Antony like Naan Adichcha and Puli Urumuthu are catchy yet lack the same fire as his earlier hits. The title song which features Vijay with his son is refreshing and picturised nicely but the background score could have been better. Camerawork is efficient enough by and large, and really good in some action sequences, well-choreographed by Kanal Kannan. The editing by VT Vijayan which is usually good, has not worked too well here as the film seems to jump and flow inconsistently.
Summing up, Vettaikkaaran is typical Vijay fare but ultimately the very lack of anything new or original brings down the film.
Tamil, Action, Drama, Color