Cast: Santhanam, Ashna Zaveri, Nagineedu
It’s the old setting for a mass masala. There is the orphaned hero trying to make ends meet in Chennai delivering water cans. An emergency situation propels him to visit his ancestral village to sell a few acres of his inherited land. There, he unwittingly comes face to face with his revenge hungry uncle and sons who nurse an ancient hatred towards his family for having killed their chittappa. By the halfway mark, the trap is set, the killers are on the loose and it’s left to the hero to make that great escape. Except the hero here is the rather unhero like Santhanam. That he is the antithesis of the conventional mass hero caught in a setting like this is what makes the film enjoyable.
Vallavanukkum Pullum Aayudham – a remake of the Telugu superhit Maryada Ramannaunfolds in a quaint village where the germ of the plot- an unimaginative family feud is taking place. A bloody fight results in a lasting animosity between two warring families. Flash forward to Chennai Central – Sakthi, our hero is shown breaking into a clumsy jig in the middle of a busy market. His constant companion is a rundown cycle which bizarrely likes talking to itself- mostly silly punchlines. On his way to his village in the train, he meets the heroine who loves sketching and doodling. All seems well until they reach his village.
Not that Vallavanukkum Pullum Aayudham dodges the commercial farces: Sakthi’s noisy comic companions (with Solar star heading the trio) on the train, who though funny in parts still manage to be tiresome; the songs that appear in the most absurd of points as Santhanam struggles to fit in to what is obviously not his comfort zone. Not that we have any reason to complain about the music (newbie Sidharth Vipin makes a special appearance) which is faultless and enjoyable. [quote align=’right’]That Santhanam is the antithesis of a hero makes the film immensely plausible.[/quote]
It’s a script that gives the villains a sizable role, and they look the part: formidable, grim, unyielding and dangerous. They tower over Shakthi they way they should – sample the scene where Shakthi narrowly escapes being beaten by his cousin inside a dingy room. Sakthi is very real and rational, surviving every time by using his wit against their brawn. When he realises the danger in front of him, there is sheer terror in his eyes ; and you empathise with him as he anxiously schemes every possible route to flee than face the villains head-on. The fear is so palpable that he even overlooks the possibility of a love affair with the heroine.Debutante Ashna Zaveri is competent and does especially well during the climax. Nagineedu, who also played the cold blooded antagonist in the original breathes fire into his role. Another Telugu actor Ravi Prakash also gets to retain his role in the original, efficiently pulling off a role that requires him to growl and look menacing all the time.
Santhanam’s performance is not without flaws- he sweats during romatic scenes and struggles when asked to sing and dance. However, he’s in his element after the interval break, convincingly depicting the fear and anxiety of a man trying to save his life, while delivering his trademark oneliners with ease. So advantage Santhanam, the quintessential Vallavan.
[accordion title=’Hat tip’]Sai Kant’s near-perfect editing and how it combines with the cinematography to make for an exciting climax.[/accordion]
[accordion title=’Pet Peeve’] Karthik singing for Santhanam. Almost as puzzling to the ears as SPB singing for Sivakarthkeyan. [/accordion]