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RECKLESS REVENGE, purposeless violence and mindless mayhem, all these with not much variation in the storyline — Goldmine Pictures' "Bala" is another of those typical action flicks that flood the cinema scene today. But the relief lies in the casting and the fast-paced screenplay. A sinewy, sturdy Shaam turns to stunts in this third venture of his — and it is very clear that the hero has worked really hard for "Bala".

"Bala"... a typical action film.

Bala (Shaam), his parents and his sister Purnima (Santoshi) make a happy well-knit family. Till, of course, things go awry, with the villain `Thalaivasal' Vijay causing havoc on expected lines.

Revenge raises its hood and Bala is dragged into a quagmire of crime. He becomes the lieutenant of the don Pasupathi (Rajan P. Dev), whose archrival is Jayamani (Raghuvaran). Bala falls in love with Aarthi (Meera Jasmine) and tries to revert to a life of calm. But it is not going to be easy...

Deepak makes his debut as story and screenplay writer and director with "Bala". The story is a hotchpotch of innumerable films of this genre.

At one point in the film, when Thilakan is introduced as the guru of Pasupathi and Jayamani you get the feeling that the director would steer the course in a slightly different and more interesting way. But no such thing happens.

It is not as though "Bala" lacks freshness — Shaam and Meera Jasmine take care of it very well with their appealing screen presence. Rajan P. Dev's potential comes to the fore in many a scene. Nagesh is another pleasant inclusion, though he doesn't have much to do. Nevertheless, the comedy track with Karunas hangs loose — a needless appendage.

Seeing Thilakan after such a long time, you expect something concrete by way of performance. But he is disposed off too easily. With Raghuvaran killing Pasupathi's son Guru, the film's tempo takes a beating. The thoughtless, imprudent act only leads to more gore. Yet the screenplay has been worked out so well in the first half that things move fast with no dull moment whatsoever.

For a change, the crew has not gone all the way abroad for the duets. And the sets have been tastefully done up (Nagu and R.K).

"Theendi ... Theendi" is a number that stays on your lips. "En Kannai ... " has a familiar ring — the choreography and lyrics (Pazhanibharathi) for the number are particularly commendable. The other two songs cannot even be termed passable. The composer is Yuvan Shankar Raja.

If it is just youthfulness and action you are looking for, "Bala" could fill the bill. But for those who wish to see a differently thought out plot and plan of action, the film could only be a clichéd fare.


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