Friday, 7 September 2018

Vanjagar Ulagam: I reviewed because I watched it, nothing else

Was that a coincidence or something? A day after Supreme Court sacking Section 377 and opened up a new space of freedom, this film ‘Vanjagar Ulagam’ by Manoj Beedha hitting screen.

With a very serious discussion on homosexuality, the 160-minute gangster drama has tried to break a few stereotypes of Tamil cinema.

The sexual desire of a woman who also is in need of an emotional company leads everyone who is directly or indirectly related to her, into trouble.

The plot of ‘Vanjagar Ulagam’ is kept simple but is narrated in as non-linear as possible way. If told on a straight chronological order, it won't take even an hour to say the story, but, the screenplay of the movie is set in an inverted 'cause and effect' pattern so that an incident happening in the present has a deep connection in the past. Say, a murder victim is found with semen traces in her autopsy. When going back in time, we are shown why.

A bold move by the director is that he never tries to caption which event is happening in which part of the time.

Keeping it self-explanatory, Manoj has experimented with time all over the screenplay. There is also a scene where one of the characters explains his relationship during which a sandclock will be in its atmosphere to show the countdown. As the hourglass reaches its end, the character, too, is done with narrating his story and emotions - again an experiment with time.

Howbeit, as the narrative style is maintained raw, there is a feeling of watching an amateur drama every now and then.

Vanjagar Ulagam’ loses its grip in these instances when the scenes get a bit dragging. The sequential order of the screenplay too might leave a few in confusion as it is still an experiment and whether everyone understands it is a question.

The problem with the screenplay is that the movie often changes centricity often among its characters. Initially, it travels in the point of Shanmugam, later switches to Sampath, followed by Vishagan.

So, the audience requires patience to grab everything that is running on the screen. The performances of Guru Somasundaram as Sampath and Ciby as Shanmugam are so consummate but the limited expressions by Vishagan is a letdown. With sharp dialogues like 'Yevalo periya rowdy naanu' John Vijay too grabs attention.

The justification of why the movie is titled Vanjagar Ulagam is given only in the end. But, the climax can be predicted by anyone who keeps a track of all events happening with an eagle's vision. If everyone has this keen way of watching movies, Vanjagar Ulagam can easily make it at the box office.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, September 7, 2018.

A part or complete version of this review by Santhosh Mathevan has appeared in 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.