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Vil Ambu Review: Some Good Laughs And Misfires

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Ramesh Subramaniam’s Vil Ambu thrives on unhappy coincidences. The lead characters cross paths at places like traffic signals and tea shops. Not once, but several times. These ‘accidents’ often come across as silly and contrived. The film’s narrative follows such a familiar pattern, that after a point, it’s easy to predict exactly where it’s going. The script meanders around in the second half.  Yet, somehow, the movie isn’t entirely dull. Vil Ambu has some genuinely funny moments, and a few good performances.

Vil Ambu runs on two parallel story tracks with its two leading men. One is a street-smart slum-dweller named Karthik (Sri), and the other is an engineering drop-out named Arul (Harish Kalyan). They roam around with their friends, fall in love, get involved in crimes, and try to straighten things out in life. While the two don’t actually meet, they inadvertently keep influencing each other’s lives.

*****

Arul, smitten by cinematography, decides to pursue it professionally, much to his overbearing father’s displeasure. He falls in love with the heroine of his first short film. When repeated attempts to get a chance to shoot an advertisement fail, he tries to borrow money from a local goon.

Although Arul is supposed to be passionate about cinematography, we never see him actually using the camera, except to click pouting pictures of his overtly irksome girlfriend (Srushti Dange). And occasionally, to shoot pictures of accidents on the road for a press photographer.

At this point we run into the film’s most shabbily written plot point. Why does a seasoned criminal decide to make this naïve youngster an accomplice in a high-profile theft, that too, without his consent? Doesn’t it require someone with a little skill and practice? Why does Arul accept his fate and cool his heels behind bars, when he knows the names of the people who used him in the crime? When he feels he wouldn’t be able to lead a decent life (like his father and relatives), Arul decides to track down the villains on his own. Nowhere does this middle-class guy look like someone who has the muscles to beat up villains. Nor is the bitterness in his relationship with his father particularly convincing.

*****

Surprisingly, the movie’s second story track is neat and engaging. There are some genuinely humorous situations, and witty characters. For instance, one of Karthik’s friends is named ‘Honest’, and this character has trouble lying convincingly. Karthik’s father, a drunkard, encourages his son to find a job so that he can buy him liquor. The sequence in which Karthik and Honest visit a government employment exchange, looking for a job, evokes genuine laughter.

Poomkodi (Samskuti Shenoy, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Devyani), the school-going daughter of a ruthless politician (Harish Uthaman), sees Karthik fighting on the street a few times, and falls in love with him. What starts off as teenage infatuation grows into a strong relationship. When the girl’s father hears about it, hell breaks loose.

*****

Among the actors, Sri’s performance stands out. He is energetic and has great screen presence. Harish Kalyan looks good, and has done a neat job. But the overall feel of Vim Ambu is amateurish: like the punch-in-fish sound that precedes a real punch, and the flat lighting of dim interiors.

*****

The Vim Ambu 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.

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