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‘Asuravadham’ review: half well-done

Sasikumar in ‘Asuravadham’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Just when we thought that Tamil cinema is having a nice little outing with movies about space travel and data theft, Friday's new release Marudhapandian's Asuravadham, starring Sasikumar, is a standard 'done-to-death' revenge saga where the hero, Saravanan (Sasikumar) is on a mission to kill the villain Samayan (Vasumithra) for a personal reason.

Though the film has only a thin 'he-ruined-my family-I-will-kill-the-man-who-did-it' plot, the filmmaker has tried to borrow a technique used in horror movies for the first 30 minutes. The protagonist appears and disappears like a ghost.

The film is the most pulsating in these sequences as the audience for a change is forced to identify with the antagonist who is clueless about why someone is after him.

Asuravadham begins with Saravanan (Sasikumar) threatening to take the life of a departmental shop owner Samayan, played by Vasumithra, in a week and stalks him in his house and in his shop. Why does he want to kill him?

Quite obviously, Sasikumar barely has anything substantial to say throughout the first half, in an attempt to heighten the suspense about his back story, but this is also where the film stumbles.

Asuravadham
  • Director: Marudhapandian
  • Cast: M Sasikumar, Nandhitha Swetha, Vasumithra
  • Plot: A man receives a phone call threatening to kill him. Who is that person and what is the reason?

In every revenge story, the back story is simply a matter of exposition to the audience, which simply justifies the protagonist's brutal revenge: a murdered brother or father, the rape and murder of a sister or wife - anything can be a back story in a revenge film. What matters, mostly, is the revenge itself.

In this film, the suspense is stretched and stretched, leading up to big reveal but when it finally arrives somewhere in the third act, we stop caring. Because, it doesn't matter. At that point, we only care about how difficult it is for the protagonist to achieve his goal.

All fun revenge, action movies usually feature protagonists faced with surmounting insurmountable odds: think of Keanu Reeves starrer John Wick or Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill where protagonists, assassins themselves, take on villains who head powerful crime organisations for deeply personal reasons.

Here, Saravanan, a construction worker, is taking on a departmental store owner, who seems to be friends with and related to local goons and a corrupt inspector. And he can fight well and can use a Glock like he is Ethan Hunt in the Mission Impossible series. What is the insurmountable odd here? This is also perhaps why the second half of a film plays out like a standard mass hero film where Sasikumar basically destroys every goon in the film.

However, the film does feature a couple of smartly choreographed stunt sequences - one in a corridor of a lodge and the other in the climax on a cliff.

For those who like to watch Sasikumar's movies for its semi-urban, rural lifestyle in the South, this film is very generic even though it is set in a city in the South.

Despite the shortcomings, the filmmaker deserves appreciation for employing an interesting narrative device to create suspense and drama.


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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 3:06:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/asuravadham-review-half-well-done/article24289607.ece

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