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"Arul" ... hoping to repeat the "Saamy" magic.

STUPENDOUS SUCCESS can unnerve a director. It has. In the fray again, along with his winning hero Vikram, Hari's anxiety to repeat "Saamy"s incredible run is evident in every frame of Sri Lakshmi Productions' "Arul." Tirunelveli was the scene of action in "Saamy". Arul belongs to Coimbatore.

In story and screenplay Hari could have done better. First of all a fearless, infallible hero pitted against a bunch of hoodlums and brutal, power-crazy politicians is too stereotypical for words. And when a completely unexpected twist occurs just before the break, the rest of the tale should be able to sustain the tempo created at the halfway point. Then, of course, you have the disjointed comic sequences.

In all fairness, the frenetic action at this stage is more like a climax and makes you sit up. Hari deserves a pat for the increase in expectation at this juncture. But soon the story meanders.

Arul (Vikram) is one among four brothers and a sister (Charanya). Sensitive and principled, he will hear no foul language and anyone who dares to talk in such a vein will have to face his wrath. On this pretext, the film abounds in the choicest abuses in the Tamil lingo. So what if the words are censored, the lip movements say it all. But his lengthy and constant refrain about what God (!) wouldn't like and what Arul wouldn't tolerate, more on the lines of Rajinikanth's numerous one-liners is tiring. At least Hari could have made it short and crisp (like in "Saamy"). Soon the inevitable happens. The local MLA, Gajapathi (Pasupathi), who establishes a goonda raj in Coimbatore, crosses swords with Arul. Arul takes on the entire group including Gajapathi's brother, the party Supremo Sethupathi (Kollam Thulasi).

Vikram looks younger and smarter than he did in "Saamy" and comes out with a neat portrayal as always. A slim Jyotika provides the female interest — be it light-hearted stuff or emotional outbursts, she shines. Sujatha is the most dignified and good-looking screen mom you've come across in recent years. Vinu Chakravarthy's irrational temper is exasperating while Pasupathi is all fury and no fire. Director K. S. Ravikumar is a real surprise. With appreciable ease and superb timing of a veteran the director dons the role of Arul's brother in law.

The Harris Jeyaraj numbers "Ukkadathu ... " resurrects L.R.Easwari's voice after about a couple of decades. The lyric and melody of "Paththu Viral ... (Vairamuthu) and the rhythm of "Punnakkunnu ... are appealing. Tippu's voice suits Vikram to a T. Kadir's skilled artwork is especially brilliant in the "Oddiyanam ... " song sequence. Priyan's camera is an added lure.

It is a case of action for action's sake so much so that most of the time Arul's anger and stunts seem unwarranted.


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