Velaikkaran movie review: Tailor-made as a Sivakarthikeyan show, film packs in social message
Velaikkaran is tailor-made as a Sivakarthikeyan show
In the contemporary scenario, Kollywood superstars consicously work on their 'hero image' to keep themselves at the head of the race. Whether it's because of the pressure from fans who are on social media or the need to reach a global audience, the star needs to do something that will help catapult them into being something more than a (solely) Tamil Nadu phenomenon.
For Sivakarthikeyan, the Mohan Raja-directed Velaikkaran is the crossover film he has been waiting for. It is not a template comedy-laced-with-romance-Sivakarthikeyan-entertainer that caters to B and C single-screen markets. The film is a message-oriented social drama made stylishly like the director’s earlier Thani Oruvan about a single man's struggle and dedication to change the corrupt system.
The film starts in a Chennai slum which is lorded over by a local gang leader Kasi (Prakash Raj). He provides employment to the locals by asking them to do part of his dirty work. Arivu (Sivakarthikeyan) is an intelligent youngster who lives a happy life with his loving mother (Rohini) and father (Charlie). He starts a local FM channel with the help of Kasi — and gradually exposes the thug and asks the people to stand up and fight the bully.
Under pressure from his mother (who does not want him to be killed by Kasi) and Mrinalini, a girl who motivates him (Nayanthara), Arivu gets a job in a FMCG as sales manager. The company is headed by a whizkid Adhi (Fahadh Faasil), who believes marketing is all about glitz and packaging and telling lies convincingly. Adhi is a crony capitalist who will stoop to any level to control the market, while Arivu is an ideologist who thinks the change has to happen within a person for the working class to survive.
The conflict between the two aggravates as Arivu discovers that the FMCG has been hoodwinking customers by selling food products laced with chemicals that lead to cancer! Arivu is shocked to find out that the methods used by a third-rate goon like Kasi and a sophisticated smart guy like Aadhi, are the same. There is a line that he says which sums it up: “A rowdy uses fear as his key to dominate while a FMCG employs the desire and greed of the consumer through his marketing to conquer.”
Velaikkaran is tailor-made as a Sivakarthikeyan show. It is Siva’s best ever performance till date, without his usual comedy gimmicks and romance-that-borders-on-stalking style. Fahadh Faasil has once again proved that he is an actor of substance and as the cunning antagonist, he steals the show. Nayanthara as Mrinalini has more of a supporting role (there's no romance per se, just a dream song sequence), but makes up for it with her star presence. The supporting cast of actors like Prakash Raj, Rohini , Sneha , RJ Balaji, are adequate in small roles. Anirudh Ravichander's songs are peppy but underutilised, and the background score could be improved on. Muthuraj’s production design (especially the portions set in the slums) looks incredibly real.
The trouble with the film is, it's too long (at two hours and 40 minutes) and preachy. The preachy dialogues detract from the exhaustive research Mohan Raja has done on FMCGs and how they operate. The basic thread of the film seems to be taken from the recent banning of a popular noodle brand, based on consumer complaints. On the whole, the film tries its best to be honest without making any commercial compromises.
Mental health, the pressures of elder care, alcoholism, drug abuse, a flawed education system, unemployment – Bhoothakaalam touches upon all this and more, but its focus never strays from its goal of terrorising the audience.
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