Tamil Reviews

Vanamagan Review: Jayam Ravi Finally Gets His Tarzan Moment, But Not Much Else

A pristine island near Tamil Nadu. People with strange markings. A lone warrior swinging on branches. Vanamagan has all this and more.


What makes it different from Arya’s Kadamban? 

The pristine island, and little else.


I watched George of the Jungle when I was ten. Brendan Fraser was awesome. A real dreamboat. He rode horses like nobody’s business. Had those cute dimples to boot.

The Tamil version, which Vanamagan partly is, has none of this.

Jayam Ravi is no Brendan Fraser. Still, he looks the part of a stereotypical jungle warrior and my gym-going friends tell me that the body he cultivated for this role would have taken a lot of effort. So, points for that.

Vanamagan’s publicity machine was formidable. The film was promoted as a cross between Avatar and Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves. What it is, instead, is a mishmash of stereotypes about the way of life of tribals, and the ways in which mercenary industrialists try to exploit them.


While Vanamagan’s makers promoted Jayam as the face of the movie, in reality, Sayesha was probably a better bet. As the well-meaning rich girl looking for a social cause to cure her ennui, Sayesha doesn’t have much to do. But the actress shines nonetheless, and is a much more interesting character to watch than the pouting, sulky Ravi. Oddly enough, looks like he’s the one who was handed the insipid sort of role women have been given for years.


In Vijay’s film, Ravi says nothing and does little except lounge around in whatever the filmmakers think constitutes “tribal” wear, and swing from trees. You know, typical Tamil actress stuff. This would have been a total win on so many levels, had it been intentional. Still, points for making the female lead the speaking character in the film, and the male a silent one. We’re not sure if Vijay is subverting stereotypes with this one, but we can hope.


The second half of the film has greedy industrialists trying to exploit the island and Tarzan..err, Jake Sully, no, Jara sets out to rescue his people. Of course, Saigal helps and all that.

So, now, what makes this film and its plot different from Arya’s Kadamban? 

Not much, really.

At best, Vanamagan benefits more from the production values and aesthetics that characterise a Vijay film. At its core though, this is a soulless film with no real empathy for the plight of the people it claims to depict. 

And until that film does justice to the plight of the oppressed and the landless is made, it looks like we have to deal with vanity projects such as this.


Vanamagan is more an attempt for Vijay to branch out of his comfort zone, than a film about tribal welfare and the injustices committed against them. The plot could easily have been a subversive piece of work, if only Vijay had focussed more on the plot and less on the way the film should “look”.

As for the songs..

Well, Harris composed them. And that’s all we have to say about it.


The Vanamagan 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.