There is a fixed pattern for Kollywood’s ‘spicy’ potboilers featuring superstars. A superhuman hero, lavish sets, melodramatic narratives laced with extravagant song-dance sequences and pulsating fight scenes are the stock archetypes found in such so-called masala flicks.
Velaikkaran, featuring Sivakarthikeyan as the protagonist, however, does not resort to that good old formula to render a socially relevant tale. The well-intended movie talks about the social degradation and individual drift, a symptom of the silent corporatization of our society.
Velaikkaran gets most of its elements bang on, right from an interesting theme that drills in a social message about the common dirty tactics used by unscrupulous corporates to trick customers.
Without being overly dramatic, the movie realistically drives home the message that common folks need for defending themselves in this man-eat-man world as all politicians are the same once they are in power.
The story revolves around Arivu, a socially conscious youth played by Sivakarthikeyan, who is born and brought up in a slum on the outskirts of Chennai city. The young idealist is committed to fight against the hawk of a corrupt system around him. The slum is controlled by a local goon called Kasi.
Most of the youngsters in the area are illiterate and jobless who eventually turn to Kasi’s gang to make a living. The first half of the movie mainly deals with Arivu’s attempts to discourage them from entering a life of crime and help them lead a life of dignity.
In the meantime, Arivu lands a job as sales manager in leading private firm in Chennai. There he befriends Aadhi, played by Fahadh Faasil, who is one of the most proficient employees of the company. Arivu shares his aspirations with Aadhi.
However, through his interactions with Aadhi, Arivu gets to know about the shocking realities of the corporate world. He realizes that his white-collar job is as ugly as the heinous crimes carried out by the goon Kasi.
Eventually, he channels his anger against corporate avarice and wages a determined battle against the rampant use of social media to propagate lies and false ideas.
Director Mohan Raja, who has also written the screenplay and the dialogues, has succeeded in making audience glued to their seats, thanks to the crisp and intriguing narration. Unlike the director’s previous movie, Thani Oruvan, Velaikkaran does not follow a masala-style solo-hero pattern.
One of the drawbacks of the film is its length of 2 hours and 40 minutes. Also, the narrative is often interspersed with over-stretched scenes and long, preachy dialogues. Despite these shortcomings, the director deserves accolades for making a gritty and realistic drama devoid of any 'masala' elements.
Sivakarthikeyan has come of age as an actor in Velaikkaran as it is easily his best performance to date. Donning the role of an enterprising youngster, he has put up a matured show. Meanwhile Fahadh Faasil pulls off a neat portrayal of Aadhi, a sophisticated character with negative shades. He lent his own voice for his on screen persona and did the job neatly. It will not be surprising if Fahadh gets more offers from Kollywood.
Nayanthara, as the fiery journalist Mrinalini, has done justice to the character. The supporting cast of Sneha, Prakash Raj, Thambi Ramaiah and Rohini too deserves full marks.
The songs are average but the background score by Anirudh Ravichander blends well with the movie’s mood. All other aspects like cinematography (Ramji), editing (Ruben) and art direction (Muthuraj) are in tune with the narrative.
Audience who expect a similar action-packed thriller like the director’s previous offering Thani Oruvan will be disappointed. But Velaikkaran does provide what is expected from a movie which has a relevant social issue as its core subject.
Velaikkaran is worth a watch for some brilliant writing, solid narration and an engaging and delectable performance by an ensemble cast.