‘Yaanai’ movie review: Hari cuts screenplay pace, but this Arun Vijay-starrer is still a middling melodrama

Arun Vijay in ‘Yaanai’

Arun Vijay in ‘Yaanai’

Among the things that worked for Hari, when he kept delivering one hit after another, were the pace of his screenplay and his macho protagonists’ loud voice against injustice. Like a self-absorbed scientist dialling up something beyond the safe mark to make his experiment succeed, Hari, in his last few films, sped up his screenplays to dizzying levels. Ideally, these films should have had strobe effect warnings. And, the protagonists in these films didn’t say their lines, they SCREAMED them. A friend even experienced symptoms of motion sickness after Singam 3.

The filmmaker, fortunately, has taken note of this. He decides to slow down in Yaanai, starring Arun Vijay. The camera, for instance, does not feel like it is mounted on a roller-coaster. There are fewer rapidly-cut shots. One is able to at least register the characters, their conflicts, and emotions. 

Hari also seems to have mellowed down. There are knives and sickles and bodies being bounced off grounds, of course — it is a Hari film, after all. But there is forgiveness, too. Every main character gets a moment of redemption. Even the antagonists are not devoid of morals. 

Family, which has always been an essential part of a Hari film, forms the core of Yaanai. Hence, we get to see more melodrama than action. Yaanai, in that aspect, is more in the Vel zone than in the Singam zone. 

It is also interesting to note macho Tamil cinema heroes adapting themselves to this era of political correctness. In this film, Arun Vijay’s character, Ravichandran, advises a college boy against stalking women. When he slaps Malar (Priya Bhavani Shankar) due to a misunderstanding, he apologises, saying, “hitting a woman is one of the worst sins.” Despite living with unapologetically casteist brothers, he speaks against caste and religious discrimination.

Director: Hari
Cast: Arun Vijay, Priya Bhavani Shankar, Samuthirakani, Radhika Sarathkumar, Jayabalan, Yogi Babu, and more
Runtime: 2 hours 34 minutes

Yaanai, however, is tedious because both the story and the screenplay lack novelty. Samuthiram (Jayabalan) and his son, Lingam, want to avenge PRV’s (Rajesh) family for the death of Lingam’s twin brother (Pandi). Ravichandran (Arun Vijay) tries to protect his family at all costs despite his half-brothers disliking him. Hari prolongs this stale story with narration-breaking duets and some patience-testing comedy tracks featuring Yogi Babu and Pugazh with lines like “Pakkathula irundhu paatha, panni maari irukaye; apram yen unakku Jimmy nu peru?” (I am not even going to expend energy in translating this).

Arun Vijay, thankfully, is not as loud as some of the earlier Hari protagonists. But he gets to flex his well-worked out muscles, especially in one well-choreographed, single-shot action sequence towards the end of the first half. He tries his best to make the melodramatic scenes work too. The emotional beats of these portions, however, are too generic. Despite the ensemble cast, including Samuthirakani, Radhika, Bose Venkat, Priya Bhavani Shankar, and others, the film hardly succeeds in keeping us engaged.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2022 2:28:45 pm |