Taking up vital issues that we see, hear or experience in day to day life and treating them as authentically as possible are writer-director Balaji Sakthivel's forte. The acumen of the ace story teller comes to the fore yet again in Vazhakku Enn: 18/9 (U/A), his fourth. A neat presentation with an all new-cast could have been a tough proposition. But Sakthivel achieves it with élan. And as a maker who doesn't go in for pomp and extravagance, despite having trained under Shankar, the king of grandeur, Sakthivel should be a producer's delight. Live locations and the veracity of the characters are alluring aspects of Vazhakku Enn … The natural lighting and muted colour tones (Vijay Milton's expertise draws attention here) suit the mood of the story perfectly. But the slight jerks in camera movement are a strain on the eyes.
Juxtaposing the struggle of a poverty-stricken, vulnerable teenager with that of an arrogant, affluent school goer and very intelligently penning a story where the lives of these two totally unconnected people get intertwined, Sakthivel proves his screenplay skills. If Vazhakku Enn: 18/9 opens with the climax and manages to keep you hooked to the happenings till the end, it is because of the effective narration.
Life, which has been very cruel to Velu (Sri), a poor orphan, seems to appear slightly rosy, when he sees Jothi (Urmila Mahanta). But the joy is short-lived as he is sent to prison for no fault of his. When Kumaravel (Muthuraman), the police inspector, shows concern, the gullible boy believes him. Little does he know that the man is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Is Velu's life doomed beyond redemption? Or will Jothi come to his help?
The fresh faces make you feel that you are watching a real-life drama unfold. Sri, as the hapless Velu, has large eyes that reveal the right amount of innocence. And equally telling is the quiet demeanour of Urmila. Mithun Murali as the rich, spoilt brat, Dinesh, is passable, while Manisha Yadav, another greenhorn, can improve. After Sri and Urmila, it is the boy Chinnasamy, the friend of Velu, who makes a mark. Not to forget the spontaneous portrayal of the loud, acid-tongued Anjalai (Jothi's mother) played by Parvathy, and Muthuraman, the cunning policeman. Balaji Sakthivel's in-depth study of today's wealthy adolescent, Chennai's street life, and the mindset of slum dwellers for whom, the use of foul language is a weapon to safeguard themselves, has helped him present a realistic showcase. Sakthivel's diligence deserves an ovation.
Prasanna's unobtrusive RR and the sober number that comes without any accompanying music add to the genuineness. A dream run at the BO accompanied by encomiums from all quarters made Balaji Sakthivel a notable director after Kaadhal. Something his Samurai didn't and Kalloori couldn't achieve -- though they were also films that deserved to win. Now again Vazhakku Enn: 18/9 lives up to the standard Sakthivel set for himself.
The points made are poignant, and the messages are for both parents and youngsters alike. So go ahead!
Vazhakku Enn: 18/9
Genre: Cyber crime
Director: Balaji Sakthivel
Cast: Sri, Urmila Mahanta, Mithun Murali, Manisha Yadav
Storyline: A poor, naïve and honest pair of adolescents unwittingly pitted against a timid but well-to-do schoolgirl, and her rich, perverted boyfriend
Bottomline: Another product Sakthivel can be proud of