It’s almost too cute to see a villain with a glass eye. Add to that some matted locks and a general rugged appearance, and the quintessential villain is yours to command. In Ippadai Vellum, Daniel Balaji as Chhota generates quite a bit of interest despite his very run-of-the-mill terrorist look. He’s in jail, his clothes, fingers and just about everything on him are filthy, and when he uncovers a secret stash of batteries, wires and assorted bits and bobs to make explosives – all from underneath the foot rest of a really filthy toilet – there’s some hope of a decent thriller. The only dampener though, is the all too familiar imagery that broadly hints at something grim – just in case we miss the other in-your-face clues. Distinct grey frames, incessant rain, a terrorist who tries to hack away at his chains and set a few things in motion – how boring, really. But Daniel Balaji, in his one thousand four hundred and fortieth role as a villain since Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu, does make you sit up, even if it’s for a brief while.
Radikaa Sarathkumar seems to be the mother-in-demand in Tamil cinema. In Ippadai Vellum, she plays a single mother who fends for her family by driving a bus. And that, perhaps, is the most progressive part of the film, never mind the fact that the idea is readily milked for emotions later. Her son, Udhayanidhi as Madhusudhanan, is an out-of-work engineer in love with a colleague (Manjima Mohan as Bhargavi). Just when they plan to marry, things go awry. Much like Maanagaram and other movies that tried to connect separate events that occurred over the course of a single day, Ippadai Vellum throws together the proverbial bad guy, the good guy, and the comedian and sees what it can brew. It invents extraordinary scenarios just so that its characters could meet, has brothers who go to great lengths to express their disapproval in their sisters’ choice of spouse, and has some unfunny, contrived moments in the name of comedy. At one point, Soori, who plays a dubbing artiste, mistaken for a terrorist aide, says in what’s propped up to be a hilarious moment. “Naa bayangaravaadhi illa, verum bayangara vyadhi” [I’m not a terrorist, I just have a disease].
Udhayanidhi, accused of being the other terrorist aide, takes it upon himself to find the guy, and set several wrongs right at once. And, Ippadai constantly tries to establish the cleverness of its lead, while also trying to be wildly creative. Its terrorists use a single mail address to communicate; they don’t quite send mails to each other, instead, save all their messages as drafts.
All said and done though, Daniel Balaji as Chhota, who had generated some interest in the opening sequence, deserves a villainous act that befits his growing personality. He may have been well suited to play the murderous guy in the Gautham Menon directorial more than a decade back – all grey and moody – but right now, he could well use some clear skies, bright sunshine and a little more layer than just those matted locks.
The Ippadai Vellum 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.