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Movie Review: Vanakkam Thalaiva (2005) Back to Movie
Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam
Fans Rating: 75%%75%% 75% (8 votes)
Movie Still Add this one to the list of 5 or so throwaway films Satyaraj does each year for every entertaining film he gives us. The completely unsuitable title hides a film that tries to be both a thriller and a comedy but eventually ends up with few thrills and weak laughs. It is a trademark Satyaraj film loaded with film spoofs, satirical dialogs, glamor and item numbers. The problem is that none of these fit into the underlying story that slots the film in the thriller genre.

Mano(Abbas) is on an outing with his girlfriend Divya(Susan) when Divya is abducted by a Sardarji lorry driver. The kidnapper subsequently taunts Mano in a variety of disguises, making Mano seek the help of his friend Ezhuchami(Vivek), a policeman. Mano thinks that it is lorry driver Manikkam(Satyaraj) who is the kidnapper but is unable to prove it. So Ezhuchami, the guise of a cleaner, decides to tag along with Manikkam to get to the bottom of things.

Vanakkam Thalaivaa is a mismatched mixture of a thriller and a comedy - two genres that can rarely coexist in the same film(see Raam for an example of how they can be made to coexist). So the result is as expected. The main track, which works like a thriller, fails to maintain the pace or generate tension since it is frequently interrupted by the comedy sequences. And the comedy track, which is vulgar and weak to begin with, becomes even more irritating since it is unconnected and distracts us from the main track.

The spoofs of other films and actors were the funniest portions of movies like Adithadi, Mahaanadigan and even the otherwise atrocious Englishkaaran. But Satyaraj and his directors need to understand that those spoofs worked because they fit the comic and/or satiric tone of the whole film. We know that the entire film is a big satire on politics and cinema and so, the imitations make us laugh. But thats not the case here. Vivek's initial introduction, that takes off on both Kaakka Kaakka and Saamy, is funny since we believe the movie is a comedy. But by the time Satyaraj does his Dhanush impression (from Kaadhal Konden), the film has turned into a thriller and the spoofs don't fit the tone that the film has assumed. So they are irritating rather than funny and simply seem in bad taste.

Vivek taking on the guise of a cleaner is an outrageous ploy to have him tag along with Satyaraj. But having grown tired of Satyaraj and Vadivelu after all their movies together, I looked forward to Satyaraj and Vivek working together. But the director doesn't exploit that pairing either. Instead he has Vivek participate in a vulgar comedy track involving 'Venniraadai' Moorthy as a teastall owner and and Shakeela as his wife. That pairing should tell you right away what the track is all about.

I usually like suspense. But Vanakkam Thalaivaa is one movie where the suspense overstays its welcome. As Satyaraj keeps harassing Abbas and Susan over and over again, the suspense about his motives(if any), which is initially interesting, becomes irritating. And looking back after the end, some of the sequences don't make much sense. The one good thing that can be said about the final revelation is that its warns us about the consequences of a really dangerous issue.

I've realised that Satyaraj's likeability in a film depends on the film's quality. Here he does the same thing he does in his other movies but since it doesn't suit the film's tone, he comes off as overacting and irritating. Vivek seems to be joining Satyaraj's club too, acting in a few bad tracks (Anbe Vaa was the last one) for every good track (like Anniyan) that he gets. Susan and Abbas simply have to act scared or irritated most of the time. Pranathi has what could be called a cameo.

Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam