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MOVIE MAGIC'S "Madhura" that follows Vijay's roaring success, "Ghilli," is mostly action for action sake. Racy no doubt but without reason. R. Madhesh dons too many mantles this time — production, story, screenplay, dialogue and direction. Even when a story lends itself to fast paced happenings, if the audience is made to feel that the film is nearly over when there is still a solid half hour to go, the problem obviously lies in the screenplay. "Madhura" is the usual story of an upright hero (he is a bureaucrat this time), a cruel underworld don and a couple or more of glam girls. Madhura (Vijay) has a vegetable shop at the crowded market place in Madurai, fighting thugs and even frightening them, all this, you get to know much later, when he is supposed to be hiding from Chennai's biggest criminal, KTR (Pasupathi)! And Madhura is the breadwinner of a family that is actually not his. He makes his mute sis talk with the ease that would be the envy of any doc. He has voluptuous women falling all over him ... and, he has a lengthy flash back tale to tell.

Over the years Vijay has matured as an actor but sadly not many seem interested in tapping his histrionic potential. The task continues to rest with a few makers like Fazil. Stunts and dances are what the others confine him to. As a dancer he is a pleasure to watch. ("Bambara Kannu ... " is a classic example of Vijay's elegant footwork.) As a fighter he is admirably agile. But as the screenplay doesn't help him sustain the speed, his effort fizzles out. Anita (Rakshita) is not the main villain's daughter. If you think that it is something new in commercial cinema, hold on. Her father is a less harmful villain, that's all. Fat to a fault, the least the heroine could do is display less of flab. Tejashri is the other fawning female interest in the film. A couple of dances are all she has for herself. It is Sonia Agarwal, making an entry after the interval, who has a significant part to play. She is Susheela, P.A. to the District Collector. Except for a duet where she proves that she could also do with some weight loss, she makes quite an impression. But the song itself ("Kandaen ... Kandaen") has all the enticing touches of a Vidyasagar melody.

As for Vidya's other numbers, his target, it is clear, are the frontbenchers — he is sure to have them tapping their feet or even doing a jig. The loudness in the rerecording is an aural intrusion. Vadivelu's initial track is clichéd, but once he switches on to a serious mode, he makes an impact. If there is one screen mom who irritates you most it is this one in "Madhura." Seetha's (she plays the role) screams are more lunatic than logical. Pasupathi, as the powerful mafia don KTR, is evil incarnate. Nothing new about the character, but his constant laughter even as he is beaten up and dragged down the road is effective. You end up actually feeling sorry for him. After "Boys," A. V. Ramanan makes an appearance in "Madhura," this time as a Government official who works secretly with the hero, to nab the culprits. Apart from the zooming close-ups and flashes, S. Saravanan's camera is sometimes soothing on the eye.

The first half of "Madhura" lacks focus and meanders as it wills, though with a lot of action in tow. Madhesh tightens the reins in the second half. It isn't just a question of pace — cohesiveness is what is missing in "Madhura."


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