Ameer's ‘Paruththi Veeran' had quite a few bloody moments -- ‘Yogi' (U/A) has them too. Projected as a film directed by Subramania Siva, ‘Yogi' reveals the influence of Ameer all the way. Hence it is rather disappointing that for a technician who has always appeared confident about his original train of thought, ‘Yogi' has a storyline that's a clear lift from ‘Tsotsi,' a South African film, that garnered quite a few awards on the international circuit just about a couple of years ago. ‘Tsotsi's scene of action is Johannesburg, while ‘Yogi's is Chennai.

And it's not just ‘Tsotsi' – the three decade old Tamil film ‘Kuzhandaikkaaga' also successfully dwelt on the premise of a unique bonding between criminals and a kid that enters their lives during a robbery bid. So the theme per se, isn't novel. Yogi (Ameer) is a killer and thief. A ‘car-jacking' attempt changes his whole life, when he finds a baby in the back seat! He carries it home, and the joys and travails that follow culminate in a ruthless climax. Then there is a sub-plot with the step father (Vincent Asokan) employing hoodlums to find the baby, and murder it.

Ameer, who debuts as hero, albeit anti, seems obsessed with suffering, and when it reaches extremes involving an infant, as it does in ‘Yogi,' the viewer finds it unpalatable. Technical expertise they may be, yet how did Subramania Siva and Ameer expect the audience to digest scenes that show the baby being bitten by an army of ants or its screams as it is made to hang precariously in a basket from a high-rise structure? An assault on your sensibilities, you could say.

The new hero has a long way to go in acting – if being expressionless is expression enough, Ameer's portrayal is fine. The rare scene where he makes a mark as a performer is when he confronts the underworld don with seething anger in his eyes. Otherwise stone-faced almost throughout, the only time he smiles in the entire film is when he poses for photographs with the baby! The boy Yogi fares well. Devaraj, as his heartless father, makes an impression and heroine Madhumita impacts you in the role of a mother who has to fend for herself and her child. You see Swathi after quite a while – as the anguished mother of the baby she is apt. But it is ‘Ganja' Karuppu who offers respite from the heaviness of the narration with his situational humour. You wait, in vain, for some spontaneous comedy on the lines of what you witnessed in ‘Paruththi Veeran' with Karthi, Karuppu and Saravanan.

Technically speaking

Strangely, for an action film the pace is passive in the first half, with raciness reserved for the last 20 minutes or so. Editing is both an interesting and enticing feature of ‘Yogi'-- astutely juxtaposed, the scenes merge seamlessly. Ram Sudharsan deserves a pat! Yuvanshankar Raja's title score is vibrant and the harmonic male voice in the re-recording is pleasing on the ear, while the song in the ‘Therukoothu' strains of the yesteryear film, ‘Navaratri,' is a different attempt. Stunts are typically commercial.

What happened to the maker of the path-breaking ‘Ram'? Probably the final product would have been better if Ameer had concentrated on his forte – direction.