‘Ayalaan’ movie review: Sivakarthikeyan strikes a fun chemistry with an alien in an uneven film

R Ravikumar’s sophomore film, ‘Ayalaan’, is light-hearted and has an expressive alien to entertain, but it doesn’t push the boundaries enough to offer a gripping sci-fi experience

January 12, 2024 05:44 pm | Updated 06:09 pm IST

A still from ‘Ayalaan’

A still from ‘Ayalaan’ | Photo Credit: Sun TV/YouTube

Eight years since his debut film Indru Netru Naalai, director R Ravikumar’s strength remains the same; he revels in the light-hearted treatment of a heavy topic. But unlike his first film, which is worth visiting again thanks to some clever surprises wrapped in an engaging drama, it’s doubtful if the director’s sophomore film Ayalaan will endure the test of time, as it’s risk-free and consciously family-friendly.

Ravikumar isn’t aiming high as far as Ayalaan’s concept is concerned. A hostile scientist (Sharad Kelkar), with his subordinate (Isha Koppikar), is greedy for power as they plan to plot the end of the world with a dangerous crystal. Tamizh (Shivakarthikeyan), who comes to Chennai from a village seeking opportunities, carries the fate of mankind. He joins hands with an alien visitor (named Tattoo!) to complete the mission.

Ayalaan (Tamil)
Director: R Ravikumar
Cast: Sivakarthikeyan, Yogi Babu, Karunakaran, Isha Koppikar, Rakul Preeth Singh,
Runtime: 155 minutes
Storyline: An alien and a nature lover team up to save the city from getting destroyed

Ayalaan, marred by financial constraints and the pandemic, faced the threat of being called a dated movie, and the film’s beginning stretch does give you an impression of why films stuck in production for a long time can lack freshness. Tamizh is shown as an animal and nature lover hurriedly. Scenes shift jarringly, and the traditional yet forgettable “intro song” drag the film down.

But then, the film springs back to life thanks to the alien, who is is expressive and has a strong sense of humour (actor Siddharth’s voice for the character, however, lacks the X factor). The odd friendship of an extra-terrestrial with an innocent and timid man reminds you of Rakesh Roshan’s Koi..Mil Gaya. Both films witness the emergence of an unlikely superhero.

In the first half, Ravikumar decodes science with humour. If Indru Netru Naalai had an engineer-cum-inventor making a car that works through voice recognition, Ayaalan has people (Yogi Babu and Karunakaran) making money from wacky birthday presents. If a time machine goes missing in Indru Netru Naalai, here, the hero goes on the hunt for a spaceship. The treatment of dialogues is similar in both movies, with witty one-liners propelling the scenes.

Indru Netru Naalai had a single yet intriguing conflict, and with no star involved, the director pulled off daring screenplay decisions. But in Ayalaan, with a star at his disposal, Ravikumar aims to give him a big playing field, albeit with poor execution. He ought to have focused on his hero as much as he has on his core plot. He pits him against villains without shades, but for most of the film, we aren’t threatened by what they boast of being capable of.

Ayalaan is also overly reliant on technology, but the VFX seems solid. However, special effects aren’t enough to keep us engrossed when the drama lacks soul. When they are together, Tamizh and Tattoo forge an enjoyable chemistry, and one wishes to see the relationship blossom as a homage to Steven Spielberg’s E.T the Extra-Terrestrial. You wish the director weaved the screenplay around them, but Ravikumar portrays their journeys separately and fails in convincing us to root for both of them equally.

Sivakarthikeyan is sincere in yet another movie that seems off-beat for a star project. The action is convincing, yet the drama isn’t scary and doesn’t keep you on the edge like in Amy Adams-starrer Arrival. You also realise that the director wants to say something moralistic amidst the drama, as the alien asks for humanity to be together.

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Ultimately, Ayalaan’s world might seem too simplistic in today’s age of unceasing imagination. The straightforward template while dealing with a sci-fi movie with a message thrived a decade ago, perhaps propelled by movies like Enthiran. Like Chitti the robot, Tattoo, too, is innocent and weary of trusting humans. There is a fire accident scene in Ayalaan that reminds you of the Rajinikanth-starrer. Shankar’s film was well-rounded and superior (helped mainly by a bigger budget). That said, just like how that film enjoyed great love from children, Ayalaan would also hope it receives attention from the younger lot in the audience, who enjoy seeing morality and heroism unravel on the big screen.

Ayalaan is currently running in theatres.

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