Director : Gautham Menon Cast : Ajith Kumar, Arun Vijay, Trisha Krishnan, Anushka Shetty, Parvathy Nair, Vivek

Yennai-Arinthal-poster

Recently Tamil cinema and its fans were shocking. Almost every other film that came out with huge expectations turned out be miserably unbearable- note, not bad but unbearable- film. What was more shocking was these films met with huge positive response from the audience. Those films turned out to be blockbusters in the box office. The audience gave a hundred compromising reasons to accept films that did not even satisfy the basic qualifications of a ‘film’. Now here we have a film that puts an end to this worrying trend by turning out to be a genuinely good commercial entertainer- Yennai Arindhaal.

Strengths:

The key strength of this film is its style of narration. The film begins with Anushka as the raconteur which later shifts to Ajith Kumar and then to Arun Vijay and then back and forth. This usual, regular story, the old wine, gets gripping with the way it has been executed. The non-linear narrative and the scenes that break abruptly once in a while, later transforming into a chain of linked events leaves us in awe.

Gautham-Visual-Musical: (GVM)

Read the word ‘Gautham’ as Gautham-Thiagarajan Kumararaja-Sridhar Raghavan. This film unarguably seems to be the one that has had sincere, long ‘paper work’ in the recent past in Tamil cinema. The unique characterizations and the screenplay structure make it a fantastic ride. On the other side, Gautham Vasudev Menon stands tall in the ‘near perfect’ way it has all been visualized.

In most scenes it feels like being in an International film festival, watching a world-class film. One important reason for that is Dan Macarthur’s cinematography. He has achieved something that we have seen pretty rarely in recent Tamil cinema- perfectly lit visuals and uncompromised, uniform visual quality. Dan stars better than the actors indeed, in conveying the mood and emotions of the scenes. Dan Macarthur is an Australian cinematographer and filmmaker!

We also have one more man to thank for the first line of the previous paragraph- Harris Jayaraj. Background music has not just turned out to be a ‘filling the blank spaces’ job. It is more of a celebration. It is fantastic throughout except for very few scenes involving the villain where it rather sounds like that of a television serial.

If you were to find a film where Harris Jayaraj or Ajith Kumar have done a great job you will have to travel several years back in Tamil cinema’s timeline. Gautham has made sure these two deliver a masterpiece in their careers, utilizing their potentials to the fullest and also managing to mark his own comeback after ‘Neethane en Ponvasantham’

A postmodern classic

Minus typical clichés of Tamil cinema in the second half, few fight sequences, heroism this film would’ve turned out to be a postmodern classic. The first half is a perfect ride. As a film completing Gautham Menon’s ‘Cop trilogy’ YA warrants intense content analysis. The heroines in these three films, their character backgrounds, the protagonist’s psychology, the love story inside, the importance of Daniel Balaji’s character and many other aspects have deep connections.

Ajith, Arun Vijay, Vivek, Trisha and everyone else have delivered matured performances. But it is Ajith Kumar who steals the show at the centre of all these positive elements in the film. If you are to list important performances by heroes in Tamil cinema the name “Yennai Arindhaal- Ajith Kumar” will be inevitable.

There is no unwanted exaggeration. The film keeps gliding through with an amazing narrative. Though the first 15 minutes look less serious, the film shifts gears from there introducing many characters and incidents in its rapid flow. There are many 10-minute portions in the film- when Ajith and Arun Vijay meet in a prison to become friends and foes, when Sathyadev falls in deep thoughts of his childhood experiences with his father, the portion when Sathyadev keeps his doors open awaiting the enemy- those look like separate world-class short films. The sarcastic, dark humour running along the film keeps reminding Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s presence.

The film also stands tall in the visualization of the songs- of course one or two songs could’ve still been avoided however classy they look. The story is not forced into every scene and dialogue but the film just keeps narrating ‘itself’ and moves on and on “shot by shot”. Gautham has managed to deliver it as one pure ‘cinema’ that stands away from all the usual ‘stage drama elements’ of Tamil cinema- note, not just dramatic acting, right from the visuals and camera angles. He reminds of Maniratnam’s efforts in the 1980 & 90s.

There are also few negatives in the film. Anushka, Sathyadev’s neighbour, Tamil Nadu police department, even the whole world seems to be dependent on one man- Sathyadev! Few action sequences seem odd. Gautham Menon has tried really hard to satisfy Ajith Kumar’s fans and every other fan looking for a ‘masala flick’. The film which travels like a classic right from the beginning gets itself lost into such elements in the second half. If Gautham Menon avoids such compromises, he might one day get to be known worldwide as a filmmaker providing perfect entertainers.

This film is for…

Yennai Arindhaal certainly has honest contributions in all departments to provide good wholesome entertainment. This might turn out to be a disappointing film for audience and fans of Ajith Kumar expecting a usual Tamil masala flick. If you are looking for a different film or a classy experience you have a feast on hands.

Few questions and answers

Q: Arun Vijay in this film is not as threatening as Daniel Balaji or Milind Soman. Is he?

A: Arun Vijay is not a proper villain in ‘Yennai Arindhaal’. He has a character having equal screen presence as the protagonist. The film rides on the psychological cat and mouse game between two characters.

Q: Does the film move very slowly?

A: Our crew went to a cinema hall in Villivakkam to watch Yennai Arindhaal. The film was thoroughly engaging. Almost 3½ hours later, we came out of the theatre to find ourselves still in the same street in Villivakkam! Apparently, then we learnt that the film doesn’t move slowly, but rather doesn’t move at all.

Q: Is Yennai Arindhaal a complete ‘cop film’?

A: Certainly not. The elements for a perfect ‘cop film’ are not really great. Characterizations, magical moments in the screenplay, witty dialogues, few classy touches in editing- are the elements that make it an exhilarating film. It is in fact not a great ‘cop film’ but it surely is one great ‘stylish, entertaining film’.

Q: Isn’t this film very similar to Gautham Menon’s previous films?

A: Who is Gautham Menon? Has he made films before this one?

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About Author

Mahesh Raghavan

Mahesh Raghavan is a film buff and independent short filmmaker from Chennai. His interest for films of all genres and languages has grown over the years. One film a day is his thumb rule.

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