Thursday, January 14

Aayirathil Oruvan


Movie - Aayirathil Oruvan (Tamil)
Director - Selvaraghavan
Producer - R Raveendran
Cast - Karthi, Reemma Sen, Andrea, R Parthiban, Azhagam Perumal
Music - GV Prakash Kumar
Cinematography - Ramji
Editor - Kola Bhaskar
Art Director - Santhanam
Action - Rambo Rajkumar
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues -  Selvaraghavan
Release Date - 14th January 2010

Aayirathil Oruvan was certainly one of the most awaited movies of recent times. The movie, directed by Selvaraghavan had been in the making for over 2 years and had faced several hurdles to finally release on Pongal 2010. The movie falls in a never-before-attempted genre in Tamil, or perhaps Indian Cinema - Fantasy Adventure. Karthi, the young hero who stole everyone's hearts through his spectacular performance in the blockbuster Paruthiveeran, is back in his second movie after a gap of around 2 years. Also in the cast are Reemma Sen (who hasnt been doing many movies recently) and the multi-talented Andrea, along with the veteran actor R Parthiban in a pivotal role. The music for the movie is composed by GV Prakash Kumar, thereby making it his biggest project till date. The movie tells the story of two archaeologists and a coolie who set out on an expedition, only to stumble upon a lost civilization.

The movie begins with a 'therukkoothu' which shows the end of the Chola reign and cuts to Thanjavore in AD 1279, where the empire of the last King of the Cholas is being destroyed by the Pandias. With no other option left, the king sends his child and a chosen few of the Cholas to a secret place to escape from the Pandias. They take a sacred idol of the Pandias along with them, which instills further anger in the Pandias. The prince and his group of people is said to have reached a faraway island. Despite several attempts, the Pandias could not reach their hideout due to the traps set by them. And it is said that the Pandias are still trying to get there and recover their sacred idol from the Cholas.

Cut to 2009 - an archaeologist goes missing in an island off the shores of Vietnam. His daughter Lavanya (Andrea), who's also an archaeologist is contacted by another archaeologist Anitha (Reemma Sen) who is given the responsibility to find her missing dad and the area he was exploring, the remains of the Cholas who escaped from Thanjavore. Lavanya joins them on the expedition to help them out with her father's findings about the Cholas and the island. They leave for Vietnam in a ship along with several officers, one of them being an ex-army man Ravi (Azhagam Perumal) and a huge group of Coolies, led by Muthu (Karthi), who is a crass, flirtatious Chennai local and above all, a die-hard MGR fan. They reach Vietnam and set off for the Min-Gua island along with the huge group of archaeologists, doctors, army men and coolies. But the journey was not as easy as they expected. To reach the destination, they have to cross the seven deadly traps set by the Cholas to prevent the Pandias from reaching them. The team loses many of its people on the way and after a while, Lavanya, Anitha and Muthu get separated from the rest of the group. They travel some more, escaping from one trap after the other to finally reach the remains of the Chola kingdom.  Shortly after reaching there, they go crazy due to black magic and are led to another place while they are under a spell. Only then they realize that the Cholas dynasty still exists and consists of a primitive group of barbarians led by their king (R Parthiban). Anitha reveals a secret about herself which causes a crucial turn in the events which later develops into a full-fledged war between the armymen led by Ravi and the primitive Chola group.

The movie begins as an adventure/expedition movie taking several cues from the Indiana Jones movies in the first half and turns into a completely different movie in the second half involving black magic, history, mythology and several other factors. Selvaraghavan should certainly be appreciated for even believing that such a story could be brought alive on the Tamil screen. And with lots of conviction and hard work, he managed to do that with mixed effects. The movie is fairly engaging in the first half with great scenes involving the three leads Karthi, Reemma and Andrea. As usual, Selvaraghavan depicts sexual tension quite openly in this movie also and the 3 main characters are not entirely positive or negative. They are characters with grey shades which make them more interesting. But the movie takes a drastic turn in the second half with the introduction of the lost Chola dynasty and its king Parthiban. First of all, the chaste Tamil spoken by them is very difficult to understand. It takes time for the audience to adjust to that language and the whole setting with a strong dose of sex and violence. It is interesting nevertheless and one keenly follows the whole path where the story is progressing. But it disappoints towards the end where the 'Aayirathil Oruvan' or the 'Chosen One' hardly does anything, despite having the backing of magic powers. In spite of that, the movie is gripping right till the end because one rarely sees such bizarre storylines in our cinema.

aayirathil-oruvan-17Karthi is superb as the coolie Muthu, who later turns into the Chosen One (as the title of the movie suggests). He charms you in the first half with his brilliant comic timing and dialogue delivery. His interactions with the ladies is a delight to watch. Another winning performance from him after his debut Paruthiveeran. With that one film itself, he was touted as the next big thing. Now this one would just add more glory to him.  But he is sidelined in majority of the second half, despite being the hero of the film. He is brought back into action, only towards the end and is not utilized properly in the climax also.

But the movie certainly belongs to Reemma Sen.  The actress, who hasnt been doing many movies off-late, shines in the role of Anitha, the archaeologist, with a hidden agenda. She displays superb confidence in the first half and oozes raw sexuality in the second half. But a minor irk was that her lip-movements for the chaste Tamil were slightly out-of-sync with the dubbed voice.  Her drastic turn in the second half was really impressive. Talking further about her character would give away the plot.

Andrea is beautiful and thats it. She just remains a spectator for most parts in the movie and does not have much to do in this film, other than a swear session with Reemma, which looked really forced, even though it was enjoyable. :P She is completely left out in the second half and hardly has any dialogue.
R Parthiban is the surprise package of the film. He is purposefully over-the-top as the barbaric King. His acting in the scene in which he gets to know that he has been betrayed, and the climax portions, was very good.

The movie relies heavily on Computer Graphics, which are a total letdown. I should say that the graphics were much worse than the sub-standard graphics shown in Dasavathaaram. But the action scenes, choreographed by Rambo Rajkumar (who is no more) are done very well. The logic behind many things cannot be questioned as the movie belongs to the fantasy genre. But still, one feels irritated when certain totally incoherent things are shown in the narrative. The major one being, how did Muthu turn out to be the Chosen One. That question is never answered. I saw the edited version of the film where almost 30 minutes of the film had been edited out from the second half. I heard that those scenes had extreme depictions of sex and violence. But removing those scenes hasnt affected the movie in any manner and from the words of other critics, has only made the movie better. Though Selvaraghavan created a daring and never-before storyline, he was not as successful in converting that on to the screen. But Aayirathil Oruvan deserves to be watched, because such films rarely come in our country and it is very engaging right till the end, even though there are many plot-holes and hiccups here and there.

The music by GV Prakash Kumar is excellent. The first song of the movie is the remix of the superhit MGR song 'Atho Antha Paravai Pola' from the MGR movie with the same title as this movie. Like that song, this one is also picturised during the journey in a ship and its a delight to watch Karthi, Reemma and group doing the old-world steps. 'Oh Easa' is more like a music video with some scary imagery inserted with no particular reason into the movie and also shows the troubles the group has to go through during their expedition in the island. 'Un Mela Aasadhaan' is an awesome song sung by Dhanush, Aishwarya Dhanush and Andrea, which again jars with the rest of the movie. The girls who were fighting with Karthi till then start singing and dancing with him suddenly after drinking a little bit of alcohol. 'Thaai Thindra Manne' featuring Parthiban and Reemma Sen, has Reemma trying to seduce Parthiban where as he sings of the troubles faced by the Cholas since they fled from their homeland. Vijay Yesudas' voice is excellent in that song. The saddest part is that the best track of the album, 'Maalai Neram' sung by Andrea has not been used in the film. It is such a beautiful track and has been the most popular song from the audio soundtrack since its release in June last year. Sadly, there is no place for that song in the movie. And several other tracks from the album were also only partly used or not used at all in the movie. The background score by GV was great as well. Usually Yuvan Shankar Raja comes up with magnificent background scores for Selvaraghavan's films. GV has matched up to that and has even gone above that at certain places.

aayirathil-oruvan-06Cinematography by Ramji is brilliant. Be it the green jungles, the dry and sunny deserts or the dark and dingy hideout of the Cholas, he has captured them all with superb effect. He has replaced Selvaraghavan's favourite cinematographer Arvind Krishna, but has delivered what the film requires and much more than that. Editing by Kola Bhaskar is just okay. He could have trimmed the movie a little more which would have increased the pace considerably. Art Direction by Santhanam is very good, especially in the scenes involving the Chola dynasty in the second half. They havent shown the Cholas to be kings wearing all kinds of Golden jewellery and stuff, but has instead gone for a barbaric and primitive look for all of them.

On the whole, Aayirathil Oruvan is an intriguing watch. After watching the entire movie, I read up stuff on the net about the movie and about Cholas and Pandias. Now, how many movies would make one do that? If you are truly interested, then the movie deserves a second viewing also, to get much more details which one couldnt get in the first viewing. The movie has its share of flaws, but stands out for its courage to tell a story which is drastically different from anything we have seen on screen so far. With a little more work on the screenplay, this movie could have been a classic. But for now, it has to settle being just a good/different movie.

Rating - 3.5/5

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