Monday, January 13, 2014

Veeram (2014)

How seriously can you take a film that tries to milk sentiment out of its star's salt and pepper look? The answer is: not very seriously. No matter how you see it, director Siva's "Veeram" is an awfully trite movie. It is absurdly predictable and throws cliches at us two at a time. I'd like to say there's a method to its madness but that would be far from true. Yet there's something about it that keeps it from being completely useless.

I honestly cannot tell you if all this is a knee-jerk reaction to my watching "Jilla" first. When "Veeram"'s trailer released a couple of weeks ago, it promised to deliver an unabashedly mediocre over-the-top blood-fest. And it does, along with plentiful of this-is-how-you-should-feel sentiment and some Santhanam-driven comedy that surprisingly works more often than it doesn't. I found "Veeram" to be mostly inoffensive and occasionally innocuous fun. I watched it at a post-midnight special show and I was more than willing to doze off but the film kept me awake throughout. 

Unlike most star vehicles which are made to mainly underline the actor's political ambitions, "Veeram" keeps making references to Ajith's reluctance to get involved with the system. All of his one-liners - which aren't delivered with ferocity in the middle of a fight - are spoken with a degree of earnestness. While most masala films bother to think of a decent setup to achieve a solid payoff, "Veeram" uses every small excuse to make Ajith's Vinayagam walk in slow-motion to the film's theme music - like it's a goddamn advertisement for Ramraj cotton veshtis. Right from "Billa", Ajith has been doing the same thing in each one of his films that followed. At this point, it's hard to tell if he is still sincerely doing it or resorting to self-parody. 

The actors playing Vinayagam's four brothers look so dissimilar that I am forced to suspect they were all born to different fathers. Besides the looks, there's little else to tell one apart from the other. They are all basically just there to fill space and I don't think anyone even bothers to call them by their names. The worst part is I seem to remember the name of the family's cook Mayilvaganam. The performances of those actors is so unmemorable that they make "Jilla"'s Mahat Raghavendra look like a veteran. The actor playing one of the brothers, probably the youngest, had such a forgettable face that I couldn't remember what he looked like even as I was looking at him. You sort of feel sorry for Ajith's character that he had the thought of never getting married for being with these morons.

The subject choosing pattern of most of our major stars can be reductively explained with the help of one classification: class and mass. The idea is to not alienate fans in rural places by playing a slew of city-based characters. I completely understand how plain offensive this classification is to the sensibilities of people, but this is mostly (and sadly) true. Ajith choosing to do "Veeram" can be simply explained by the fact that his last six or seven films have had him play characters who dress in dapper suits. He needed to break the image and decided to do whatever came his way. While the character of Vinayagam is brought to life to a reasonable extent by Ajith's performance, everything surrounding it is utter trash. Right from the terrible opening scene, Vinayagam's penchant for violence, the silly love story and the lack of a strong villain, the film is stuck in a sea of mediocrity and curiously content about it. 

Tamannah is one of those actors who cannot act even if their life depended on it. I think she plays a student of archaeology, like the one Deepika Padukone portrayed in "Love Aaj Kal". Throughout this film, she dresses up like she's advertising for RmKV bridal collection. If your intention is to go to "Veeram" and ogle at Tamannah, then there is plenty of opportunity for ogling. Besides that, there's this one action sequence on a train that's kind of decent and thrilling. DSP's music is kind of alright too. I have no idea how to end this review so I will just stop now.