Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Vada Chennai: Vetri Maaran's illustration for linchpin theory

Replicating nativity with its own essence has been an easy trait for a lot of filmmakers. But, a few like Vetri Maaran have done more than that. They create a universe in their movies within this nativity and tell stories of the soil. Vada Chennai becomes his masterpiece as the creator of Polladhavan, Aadukalam and Visaaranai, has reinvented himself in the first instalment of his dream trilogy.

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Yes, we have violence, blood shed and raw moments. So, I'm keeping them apart. The plot of Vada Chennai is not yet over as it is a story of about 7-hour narration. In this first part, Vetri has set the premise of his trilogy and has shown us what is the prime conflict this geography of 'Vada Chennai' goes through. It should be said that he has taken a bold move by pointing his fingers directly at the politicians who were responsible for keeping the area as it is known now across.

One has to be daring enough to refer to political icons like Annadurai, MGR, Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, and speak about the agenda set against people. Vetri Maaran has done that. In the scene when Rajan (Ameer) in late 1980's carries out a talk with representatives of the then ruling party - ADMK, as MGR and Anna are seen behind on photos - we get a clear idea of what Vada Chennai is all about. It speaks for the people of the land, unfortunately, whose lands are grabbed by the establishment for the development of corporate and an elite section of the society who do not belong to the land.

At a point, when we see an ordinary carrom player Anbu (Dhanush) getting roped into this fray, the entire plot elevates to the next spell of evolution. But, it is not like a forced pulling of the leg, but Vetri Maaran's screenplay does that to Anbu. For this, Dhanush's efforts and transitions over three different phases of his life are seasoned. Be his body physique, his facial structure or his sophisticated emoting methods, everything adds a better substance to the screenplay.

We are also subjected into a time travel as we watch a 16-year story. There are a few time reference points in the narration like the deaths of Rajiv Gandhi and MGR, kidnapping of Rajkumar by Veerappan seen as the headline of a newspaper, and also change of ruling parties. Along with its own time frame, Vada Chennai, documents how the events happening outside it's premise make an impact on them.

In its subtext, Vetri Maaran has illustrated linchpin theory (for a bigger target to be achieved sometime in far future, trigger something very little in the present) and Dhanush's character is in the centre of it. Until the movie breaks for intermission, the plot is kept non-linear and we see a combination of past and present told in chapters. In all chapters, Anbu is on the top while other characters share the titles with him. Having established all the people in the story and their attributes, the movie follows into a clash of the mentalities. We see betrayal, leadership and statesmanship fighting with each other while revenge is driving them all.

What adds strength to the plot is how the female characters are given prominence. Both Padma (Aishwarya Rajesh) and Chandra (Andrea) are those who become the reason for putting things fall on the right track. Aishwarya's dominance onscreen when she romances Dhanush even makes the male actor go into the blind spot and she stands out. While Andrea has all her emotions on proper scale. It was also surprising on the perfection she has brought in to recite dialogues in Vada Chennai slang. This woman has to be cast in more such roles and experiments.

Similarly, Samuthirakani and Kishore have an elegance in their roles and they have given life to this with their screen presence. Kishore in the second half has a character transformation in which he still possesses the grip with the Madras accent.

As expected, Vada Chennai part one ends with a lead to its sequel with a whole lot of story still left to tell. It would likely be the 'rise of Anbu', who now gets the 'King of the Sea' background theme track of Santhosh Narayanan which was initially played for Rajan - the actual king.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, October 17, 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.