After quite a while, a Vijay film ushers in freshness. The actor who vehemently followed an agenda of unrealistic action and larger-than-life heroism for the past few years has finally relented and tried out a line that works in his favour. Subtle acting is his forte — in the past Kadhalukku Mariyaadhai, Kannukul Nilavu and Love Today proved it amply. Also, playing a slightly anti part in Piriyamanavalae and a strongly negative role in Piriyamudan, Vijay showed that his potential extends beyond mere gimmickry. Now again in Kaavalan (U), looking fit and very much in form, Vijay impacts. Ideally, this should have been Vijay's 50{+t}{+h} film.

The rapids you normally witness in Vijay's stunt-filled sojourns may be missing in Kaavalan but its calmness like that of a gently flowing stream overpowers you — the last 40 minutes keep you glued.

Director Siddique and Vijay have taken a long time to get back together — Friends marked their first outing. But Kaavalan has been worth the wait. After his Malayalam Bodyguard with Dileep and Nayantara in the lead, Siddique has gone in for a Tamil remake. Siddique's characterisations and comedy sense always place him apart. In Kaavalan, Vadivelu tries to repeat the magic of Friends, and, to an extent, succeeds.

Boominathan (Vijay) is incredibly loyal to Muthuramalingam (Raj Kiran) and when he is made to believe that the senior's life is in jeopardy, he rushes to Semmanur, where the man lives. Soon a series of unexpected happenings change his life.

Vijay's lucky charm, Asin Thottumkal, joins him. Nayan did a great job in Bodyguard and in Kaavalan Asin shows that she's no less talented. Naughty, compassionate and mature all at once, she displays a melange of emotions with ease. But the twinkle in her eyes is missing. Mithra Kurian's (she played the same role in Bodyguard) attractive face and poignant expressions are her pluses. As always Raj Kiran is spontaneous and brings in more nuances than Thyagarajan did in the original.

Excellent angles and tones, exotic locations and indoor ambiences make N. K. Ekambaram's cinematography and Mani Susithra's artwork unique.

All the same, Kaavalan isn't devoid of redundant sequences and songs that hamper the narration. Probably commercial constraints made Siddique go in for such elements in an otherwise smooth screenplay. In this era of communication explosion, a father sends his son to a well wisher who lives far away, with a letter, like they did in the good old days! The anachronism isn't something you expect from a maker of Siddique's stature. The college professor is again a clichéd caricature. There are a few such grey areas the director could have paid attention to. Yet the suspenseful story and Vijay's performance make it worth your while.

If you wish to watch Ilaiya Thalapathi in a well-enacted drama, make a beeline for Kaavalan.

Kaavalan

Genre: Romance

Director: Siddique

Cast: Vijay, Asin, Raj Kiran, Vadivelu

Storyline: The hero enters the house as a bodyguard, only to find himself in a quagmire of love.

Bottomline: Vijay on a winning track

Keywords: VijayKaavalan