Entertainment

‘Yennai Arindhaal’: Ending cop trilogy on a high

Ajith Kumar and Anushka Shetty in Gautam Vasudev Menon's 'Yennai Arindhaal', which released on Thursday.

Ajith Kumar and Anushka Shetty in Gautam Vasudev Menon's 'Yennai Arindhaal', which released on Thursday.  

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The Gautham Menon film leaves you feeling like having gone back to a well-known play you have enjoyed a few times over. But for one last time.

There is a certain familiarity to Gautham Vasudev Menon’s films. You already know the characters, even if their names have changed, you know how they behave and, most of all, you begin to anticipate what would happen next.

Yennai Arindhaal, which the director has said is the concluding part of his ‘cop trilogy’ after Kaakha Kaakha and Vettayadu Vilayadu, is a tough act to follow given the success of those films. So the film ends up being highly predictable. 

But despite those trappings, at the end of its nearly three-hour run time, Yennai Arindhaal leaves you feeling like having gone back to a well-known play you have enjoyed a few times over. But for one last time.

Solid performances

It works mainly because of solid performances by the cast, especially the lead players Ajith Kumar and Arun Vijay, who play the opposites in the moral spectrum of the classic good versus evil tale. Both are faced with the similar dilemmas surrounding friendship and love, and bring out easily the best performances of their careers thus far. 

Ajith’s Sathyadev is a person who during a process of self-awakening chooses to stay within the ‘thin line’ that separates the good from the bad. Arun’s Victor, who is offered a similar choice, has no qualms is staying beyond the periphery of the moral good. Both Sathyadev the police officer and Victor the gangster operate without compromise until faced with the consequences of their actions.

The sequences set in the cops and gangster milieu is awash with gore, violence and bleeped out expletives. (It has to be a joke that the film’s producers even attempted to get an ‘U’ certificate for this film.) But in between all the crime and action sequences, Gautham manages to weave in very poignant moments of people falling love, a blossoming friendship, and most interestingly on how modern day parents want to bring up their children.

Despite the heavy gangster backdrop, Yennai Arindhaal is simply about how a father wants his child to lead his or her life. In this there are similarities again to Gautham’s Vaaranam Aayiram. In one scene, you have Sathyadev’s father (played by Nasser) telling him how to choose his path in life when the school-going boy asks him whether he too wants him to become a doctor like his mother does.

In one of the film’s poetic sweeps, a grieving Sathyadev takes his daughter Isha away from her immediate environs and the two embark on a journey of self-discovery. The song Unnakenna Venum Sollu (lyrics by Thamarai and sung by Benny Dayal and Mahathi) is a father’s gift to a daughter who seems to have lost hope, and every thing from the composition, the singing to the way it has been picturised makes it a highlight.

Achilles heel?

The film’s leading women — Trisha Krishnan as dancer Hemanika and Anushka Shetty as software engineer Thenmozhi — add as much grace and poise as possible. Like all previous heroine’s of Gautham’s film, they represent the modern, sophisticated independent women of India’s emerging middle class. However, is it a strange coincidence that almost all of Gautham’s heroines eventually end up becoming the hero’s Achilles heel?

Like Kaakha Kaakha’s Anbuchelvan and Vettayadu Vilayaadu’s Raghavan, Sathyadev too is near invincible until he finds company with a lover.

Trisha and Anushka excel in their roles too but only in whatever few moments they get in between all the gun fights and slaughter. Baby Anikha who plays the role of Isha has shown a good range of emotions too, as it is a rare opportunity for a child artiste to work with a star of Ajith’s stature.

Vivek as ‘Revolver Richard’ plays more a supporting actor than a full length comedian in a film where there is not much humour unnecessarily infused.

Ajith Kumar seems to have put his heart and soul into the role of Sathyadev, a character that goes through several physical transitions through the course of narrative, from being a fit young cop to a demoralised middle-aged man to a person who finds his way back to doing what comes naturally. He stands out in the sequence where he is faced with the urge to go back to cracking crime but is inhibited by his fears of consequences. He does make the return when his daughter fetches him the police boots.

The biggest gainer of Yennai Arindhaal could be Arun Vijay, an actor with potential who seems to have gotten lost in all the noise in the Tamil film industry. His Victor is nearly as menacing as Jeevan’s Pandian, the antagonist of Kaakha Kaakha. But there is a lot of heart in Arun’s Victor, who  has to face up with betrayal and eventually loss of his love too.

Harris Jayaraj’s songs and background score adds a lot of weight to the film, as do the editing by Anthony and stunts by ‘Stunt’ Silva. In the technical side of it, the big differentiator has to be the cinematography by Dan McArthur.

Gautham manages to have pulled off Yennai Arindhaal but only just. There are places where the narrative sags and even confuses. But where he redeems himself are the sequences that lay emphasis on human emotions.

Verdict: Performances lift an otherwise predicatable fare from Gautam Vasudev Menon. 

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