| Saddled with unremarkable villainous and side roles, Prakashraj has chosen to produce
his own movie in order to put his acting talent on display. Thankfully, he avoids
the temptation of boosting his own image and instead, manages to select a character and story
that allow him to actually perform. Dhaya is another in the long list of movies
featuring a rowdy as hero but employs sufficient plot points to seem different from
other run-of-the-mill stories.
Dhaya(Prakashraj) is a rowdy in Chennai, with enough political clout to make the police
look the other way when he indulges in his nefarious activities. Thulasi(Meena) moves
into his neighbourhood but all her attempts to reform him fail. Rudraiya(Raghuvaran),
an ex-army man who has a score to settle with Sharada Amma(Lakshmi), hires Dhaya to
discredit her. Sharada Amma runs an orphanage for abandoned children and is a good woman
who turns a deaf ear to Thulasi's warnings about Dhaya's real character. Dhaya earns
Sharada Amma's trust and gets himself hired as her car driver, while secretly planning
Unlike other heroes who have portrayed rowdies, Prakashraj is not bound by the shackles
of his 'image' and so is freed from the need to forcibly add some cliched good qualities
to his character. This makes his character memorable and enables it to stand out from
similar rowdies in other movies (Pudhiya Paadhai's
Parthiban is the only other similar character to come to mind). His complete lack of
human qualities is brought out well through his acts at the Brahmin household and the
ashram kitchen. But be warned: the two scenes, while effective in defining his merciless
character, are gross and tough to watch.
For quite some time, Dhaya follows the same trajectory as other similarly themed
movies that have a rowdy as the hero. His goondaism and his meetings with Meena offer
nothing new and we sigh with disappointment as a single slap from her makes him turn
over a new leaf. But the director makes us sit up with subsequent developments and
Raghuvaran's arrival gives a direction to the story. Dialogs are both funny and sharp and
the meetings between Raghuvaran and Prakashraj contain several nice lines about their
comparative villain status over the years. Raghuvaran's past with Lakshmi also adds some
suspense to the proceedings.
The fact that the movie is not saddled with a 'bad' rowdy as the villain results in
a climax that is different from the usual big clash between the good and the bad
guy. Though it seems a little stretched, the climax atleast attempts to be different.
The location itself adds a nice touch to the climax that sidesteps a few
cliches and avoids the traditional feel-good ending.
Prakashraj brings out the evil in his character well without overacting. Meena
looks simple barring a single duet and is quite good as usual. Raghuvaran employs
his usual style of dialog delivery to add something to his character. Lakshmi
has no trouble portraying the too-good-to-be-true godmother. Dhamu and Ramesh
Khanna are responsible for a few laughs as Prakashraj's lackeys while Simran
appears in a single, front-benchers-targeted song sequence not deserving her status
as the leading heroine in Tamil cinema. Deva gets the chance for one melodious
track but the others are typical Deva songs.