Thursday, 28 September 2017

Spyder: ARM movie with non-ARM elements

Having set a typical high standard in his previous outings starting from Dheena, via Ramana, Ghajini, Thuppakki, till Kaththi, this time AR Murugadoss has come down a step for making a complete Mahesh-Babuish masala entertainer Spyder, that has hit screens this week. The movie that has Mahesh Babu, SJ Suryah and Rakul Preet in the lead also features Barath, Shaji and RJ Balaji in other pivotal roles.

Ideological aspect:

Though the movie is kind a Murugadoss-brand flick, the script has been set to par with the Mahesh Babu fashion. Due to this, the commercial elements overshadow the basic ideology of Spyder, 'humanity', which is being preached by the director. The movie, due to its commercial elements misses its impact and eventually finds a lag in getting communicated on its crux.

However, the reason for why the antagonist becomes a serial psycho killer and the emotion of the people in masses keeps up the mood of the film to a greater extent. Especially, the flashback sequences of the antagonist and his brother forms a strong base to the movie that even gets an applause at the screen despite being a tragic and aggressive one.

The whole ideology of the movie is based on the sadist quotient of every human being, which has hiked from 4 per cent to 6 per cent and has turned out to be the reason for inhumane incidents. This is what the director tries to convey since the beginning of the movie. The characterisations of the protagonist and the antagonist are built on either sides of humanity, where one is ready to do a desk job even for his whole lifetime just for the happiness of other, while the latter finds happiness and pleasure on seeing one lamenting in death.

Casting aspect:

Before speaking about the positive shaded characters, I should speak about SJ Suryah who has played(lived) the role of the antagonist. (OMG! what has he done here?) His performance as a psycho-villain has set a new benchmark for Tamil cinema baddie parameters. The body language and dialogue delivery has some resemblance with 'The Joker' character played by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. But, the way, the character creates a buzz on the screen is completely of SJ Surya's style. While in Sudalai's flashback, the boy who has played young Surya has just rocked the screen by portraying the emotion and mannerism just like SJ Surya.

Mahesh Babu, has played a neat and intelligent spy. But, the expressions on his face are too limited that it literally remains the same in any particular scene of the movie. Be it romance, anger, sorrow, comedy or an interrogation, the expressions of Mahesh stay constant. Though his Tamil pronunciation has too many shades of Telugu, the lip-sync he has established in dubbing just awesome. While, Rakul Preet has a very less screen space. Throughout the story line her role's significance is justified only in the pre-climax where she helps to find the antagonist. While Barath, has killed it with the role of an aggressive youngster and has effectively utilised the very minimal span he is given. RJ Balaji, Jayaprakash, Shayaji Shinde, Shaji and many other prominent performers are in the movie, yet their roles are not of the happening-types in the movie.

Technical aspect:

The visual quality of Spyder is really impressive. Thanks to the man behind the lens Santosh Sivan and the DI team. However, Santosh's scope for he usual artistic and high-skill cinematography is quite less in Spyder despite the dynamic screenplay. It is clearly evident that the director has preferred to go with green-mat, which has reduced the responsibilities of Santosh. On the other hand, there are some scenes where Santosh's presence could be found significant. Since, most of the scenes of the movie are shot in low-lighting and dark shades, it is the cinematography that gives a brighter picture to watch.

While, Harris Jeyaraj's background score, in some parts, resembles to the themes of Thuppakki and 7aam arivu, which evidentally are the music director and director duo's previous outings. As seen in every other Harris' movie, all songs in Spyder feel like already-heard-it-somewhere. To be precise, the percussion set up of Mochakotta (Aali Aali), resembles Randakka Randakka of Anniyan, while the beginning notes of the first stanza of Boom Boom is matching with Honey Honey of Ayan. The mood and the instrumentation of Ciciliya have a mix of Vaanenngum from Endrendrum Punnagai and Lolitaa from Engeyum Kaadhal.

Sreekar Prasad's cuts keep up the grip of the movie till the end and adds crispness to the high pace screenplay in the second half. Especially the scene where the protagonist executes a mission with the help of housewives in town, Sreekar has made it possible with all his skills invested.

Next to them, the lyrics of Madhan Karky. though the song placements are pulling down the pace of the movie, Madhan Karky's lyrics in the songs show his smartness and dominance over the language. There is song titled Otrai Iravukkai, which details the character of the female lead. Especially the lines 'Neela Kanavugalai Iravinil Iravinil Yaasithaal, Kaalai Vidinthavudan Thiruppugazh Thiruppugazh Vaasithaal' completely gels with the characterisation of  the heroine. Similarly some magical one-liners like 'Polythene Pola Nam Kaadhal Vaazha' too are handled by the young lyricist.

Script and Direction aspect:

As seen in every other ARM's flick, Spyder to has some wow moments and his own signature scenes. Like the unanimous gunshot mission of Thuppakki, Coin fight of Kaththi and hospital scene of Ramana, Murugadoss has two signature sequences in Spyder too. But, the fact is that, those are the only convincing part of the script.

Be it the scene where the protagonist saves his solitary mother and brother with a smart move, or the housewives mission, Murugadoss has did wonders. But the rest of the story has a lot of logical loop holes in all scales. Starting from the difference in mentioning of the age of a victim in two different scenes, to the illogically written screenplay for a scene where the hero stops a 1000 ton rolling rock, Spyder misses logic both in the cases of minute detailing and a believable sequence. There are some unnecessary detailing too, like the one where the director has filmed the train travel of the protagonist during his investigation, which seems just like a filler.

But there are some places where detailing matters a lot. In one of  the early scenes of the movie, there is wide angle shot which shows the house of the protagonist being located in a remote area, which has a need in a scene coming in later part of the movie. Similarly, the detailing of the villain's character in his flashback is simply awesome. The characterisation of the villain is written so well and in fact gets an extra pulse with SJ Suryah's performance. The justification for the villain's depopulation mission is firmly standing on his detailed characterisation. To point out a scene in specific, the interrogation of the villain carried out by the protagonist has strong dialogues for both the characters. Though it resembles a similar interrogation scene in The Dark Knight, Murugadoss' smartness in localising his inspiration is simply awesome. Not just localising, the director also has opened up a strong debate to the audience too.

Leaving all these scenes apart, the director has some special places in Spyder where he wants to say 'I am right here'. The usage of a retro song during the housewives mission and having a stylish finishing with that song is brilliant. Though the final press meet scene failed to make the impact, the one line definition for humanity the hero gives in that scene is too sharp and holds the crux of Spyder.


Having Murugadoss kept the commercial elements in meter, the movie could be added to his signature films club. Since, he has made a lot of compromise in forms of heroism, illogical stunts, irrelevant song placement and love sequences, Spyder falls in many places, which even raises a doubt whether this is really an ARM movie? But, Spyder does not fail to entertain with all these commercial elements, gripping screenplay and of course SJ Suryah's massive performance packed together.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, September 27, 2017.

This viewer's note is completely based on the perceptions of Santhosh Mathevan alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only.