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Aambala: Mindless in Madurai

January 16, 2015 07:22 pm | Updated 07:22 pm IST

In Aambala , you are not convinced that Saravanan (Vishal) is in love with Maya (Hansika) when they’re deep in conversation, looking eye to eye, in the beautiful landscape of Ooty… But a second or two later, you are, when he flashes a pleased smile, as Hansika walks away, the camera dutifully focussing on her posterior. Clearly, love is a deep emotion… in ‘hindsight’.

Sundar C.’s Aambala , like most of his films with the sole exception of perhaps Anbe Sivam , is unmindful of critics but as the massive success of his last film, Aranmanai , suggests, critical appreciation is probably ranked low in his priorities. The sordid intentions of his camera notwithstanding, the film takes a Hari-esque (director of Vishal’s previous film, Poojai ) turn into action mode as its setting shifts from Ooty to Madurai and then onto a neighbouring village. You have goons dressed in white, you have flying Tata Sumos… you know the rest. You are not the least concerned about Vishal’s safety as he calmly beats up hundreds of henchmen. You just know he will come out unscathed. In one scene, for instance, he’s kidnapped by dozens of thugs, led by Kanal Kannan. Minutes later, you see him walking away, leaving a trail of bloodied destruction in his wake with a smile on his face.

Aambala could also probably have been named Pombala , considering that so much of the film is about women. This is never more obvious than when Vishal lands up in a bastion under the control of three sisters — Ramya Krishnan (mother of Hansika), Kiran and Aishwarya — who don’t just rule their village but also their husbands. Ramya, the leader of the three, plays a politician, and tries to invoke her inner Neelambari (her character in Padayappa ), but in vain. Pradeep Rawat, as the villain, is also more caricature, and less character, while Santhanam is just okay.

The film is packed tightly with so many masala elements that you hardly notice its duration — two hours forty minutes — pass by. But that isn’t saying much considering that barely a couple of hours later, you find yourself struggling to recall its story — it is that forgettable.

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