Gautham Menon is fastidious about a lot of things. In Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada, he devotes a frame to attribute his inspirations. A moment from The Godfather, no less. A haze of Maharashtra landscape, saffron-clad politicians, a mental asylum, and a snatch of violence later, STR is introduced amidst an adolescent brawl. If Mike Corleone was a decorated war hero who just wanted to stay away from the ‘family business’, AYM‘s STR seems right out of Vinnaithaandi Varuvaya, pat down to the house he lives in. It’s bewildering, this sudden change of …mood(?) but Menon quickly makes his intent known. He is just establishing character. That of someone unlikely enough to chase down a bunch of goons; an average someone who is offended by the rolls of fat he sees on himself. Someone who smooths down his hair before entering a scene of crime, or more precisely, making a scene of crime.
It’s futile to draw similarities, though, and I really wouldn’t want to unless they establish something conclusive. But Menon’s scenes – some of them obviously influenced by The Godfather – segue quite admirably into the narrative that the director has woven, rich with native elements – that they deserve mention. Multiple shots of a deserted hospital corridor set to an ominous background score, the generous use of a tongue foreign to the local audience – Menon devotes another frame to explain his use of language – and the narrative itself, a coming-of-age tale at the centre of which is an actor who is at once brash and romantic. Menon also bestows a worthy name on his hero which he reveals after the interval. Such a nice tale, that one.
It seems right out of a movie.
For someone who has been tirelessly showcasing cop heroes on screen, you’d think the director would exercise some caution this time around – but Menon’s love for the force is all-consuming, so is his penchant for the cool, calculating, ruthlessly honest and honestly ruthless cop that Suriya, Kamal and Ajith were in their own GVM scripts. In Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada though, STR is not born a cop; he’s made into one. By a series of events – fortunate and unfortunate – that unfold. One brings him love, and the next, a few drawn guns. But the cop act doesn’t call for much from STR who has been doing that swagger for a living; he makes quite the impression when he isn’t one, hands visibly shaking when holding a gun, admirably alternating between naked terror and bravery.
Leela (Manjima Mohan) is a revelation. Menon is realistic with his heroine; he chooses a newcomer with careful thought – someone who doesn’t come with the trappings of a star. She’s not unhealthily thin, and seems to like what she eats. Leela also borrows one of Vito Corleone’s unspoken rules: never hit a police officer – but I never get to know why. Though, like all GVM heroines, she is always on the verge of brutal death. Some signature material, this.
AR Rahman’s chords are as delicate as the script is violent, and the movie sometimes seems as musical as its title. Thalli Pogathey is brilliantly positioned, with the most unlikely score ever. A near-fatal highway accident and its resulting chaos are wonderfully woven into a series of cuts – the typical GVM fade-in-and-fade-out – set to some unreal music. Neither sinister, nor cheerful, you never know whether they live or die, for everything becomes a part of the bloody song. Leela is artfully thrown from the bike, hair splayed out against the rich, green landscape while STR is hurled onto an oncoming bus with as much grace as a seemingly-unconscious man can muster.
Only, STR isn’t unconscious, I soon find out. Merely eloquent – professing undying love when dying. He tells it in Tamil, he tells it in English, and soon, you wish the talking would end – one way or the other.
The Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.