So, I get the feeling that Surya likes dual roles, yes?

After his so very solid turn in Aayitha Ezhuthu, I rediscovered the caramel-eyed wonder for myself in Vel on a visit to Madras in ’07.   All I can say is, I was never much of a fan of moustaches before, but oh Mama, after seeing Mr. Sivakumar play both the Country Mouse and City Mouse roles in that separated-at-birth story, and do so while sporting a modified mush (not the full-on lip foliage of some filmi Tamil heroes), I was converted, and how!

After getting two times the Surya in Vel, we again got a double helping in Vaaranam Aayiram, except this time as father and son.   Again, no complaints, especially after the money shot of himself shirtless and his by-then famous abs on display under a waterfall.

All winking referrals to Mr. Sivakumar’s good looks aside, what I really like is that he is capable of being equally good in Aayitha Ezhuthu as he is in Vel or Vaaranam Aayiram or Ghajini, and so on.

And now there’s Aadhavan, where he actually almost plays a triple role, if you count the creepy Love Guru-ish special effect of the adult head of Surya floating over the body of the child actor playing his character as a youngster.   (Ohhhhh, okay, wait a second, now I can understand the whole motivation for Dasavatharam a bit better”¦.it’s a Kollywood thang”¦..At this rate, by the time Surya hits 50, he will likely have starred in a film where he takes on ten, no, wait, eleven different roles.)

In Aadhavan, Surya plays the title role, that of a hired killer, who early on manages to flub a hit on a Tamil judge.   Rather than just try another sniper shot at a later date, he decides to go undercover as a servant in the judge’s Calcutta household, where he plays sweet and unassuming, eyes averted.   Aadhavan very soon wins over the affections and trust of all under the familial roof, except the main manservant Bannerjee (played by Channai’s answer to Shakti Kapoor, Vaidivelu) who he has coerced into vouching for him to the judge’s family.

But how can it be that we really like Aadhavan and accept him, knowing that he’s a killer?   Ah, my dears, that’s where the back story comes in”¦..I won’t give the details away here, but suffice to say Aadhavan actually has a connection to the family that goes way back.   Fortunately for the story line, his love interest, Thaara (Nayantara) is far enough away in the gene pool that the idea of the two as a couple is not unnatural.

The movie clocks in at some three hours and ten minutes, the discovery of which caused me to let out a loud groan on my way to the cinema, but I gotta’ say, it wasn’t that bad.   While Aadhavan hews close to the masala formula, with a high quotient of slapstick comedy and action as well as romantic songs, I was pleasantly surprised to note that the first half of the film zipped on by at quite a clip, and the second half didn’t dawdle either.   That’s quite an accomplishment, because usually either the fight scenes or the comedy turn bothersome for me rather fast.

I wouldn’t go into raptures about the chemistry between Surya and Nayantara, because I didn’t sense much at all, but they do look cute together, with much of the cuteness mantle being borne by Surya.   I could say a lot about Surya’s sartorial bungee jumping in the various song picturizations, but I’ll write about that separately and those who are not as interested in dissecting the various outfits in Aadhavan can walk on by.

See it or skip it?

If you go into the theater knowing that this film is holiday entertainer, then your expectations should be met.   It is not Naan Kadavul (by a longshot), nor is it Vennila Kabbadi Kuzhu, but rather, it is more in the vein of Vel.

If you are quite content to gaze at Surya on the big screen in any and all roles, then you will enjoy the film even more.   It has some fun songs, some that were even kinda catchy.   The fact that I was able to sit through 190 minutes and only barely get into that fidgety, when-is-this-going-to-be-over mode in the last 15 minutes (the seemingly obligatory drawn out final action scene), that’s really saying something.

2 thoughts on “Aadhavan

  1. Menaka, I agree with you. I think after doing well in a Mani Ratnam film, there will be folks who will only want to see him in similar work from then onwards, which is, I believe, an unrealistic expectation. And I’m actually glad to see Surya making a variety of films. I hope he’ll work with Mani Sir again some day, but I’d also be happy to watch Vel a second time and I still haven’t managed to catch Ayan yet.

    I’m with you, Aadhavan was a fun flic, not something I went into thinking I would witness great or deep meditations on the human condition, but figured I’d have a few hours of entertainment to take me out of my own current reality.

    On Naan Kadavul, it’s not that I have such a high assessment of it per se, but rather that I found it such a different and such a disturbing film that I want to see it again and try and make sense of what I think of it. But I do realize that if someone can provoke such a response with his work, then, at the bare minimum, I have to recognize that he has done something out of the ordinary.

  2. This is one of the most neutral and best reviews of the movie that I have come across. I had read so many negative reports of the movie that when I went to see it (I am a huge fan of Surya) me and my cousins were prepared for the worst. But what a laugh riot it turned out to be. Granted it is not Surya’s best — he will forever be compared to his roles in VA. He has set the bar so high for himself that masala movies like this will only get howls of protest from his urban fans — but it was not the bottom of the barrel either. There was more chemistry between Surya and Vadivelu than between Surya and Nayantara.
    And this is a KS Ravikumar’s movie for god’s sake! The way people were dishing this movie one would think that Tamil films are filled with movies like VA, Eeram ( I don’t agree with your high assessment of Naad Kadavul — it was more like a freak show of the physically deformed. Notice that the movie has not done much for Aarya’s or Pooja’s career despite the way the critics went into raptures over it) etc. This is a masala movie and just like other Hollywood blockbusters with its gravity defying stunts (just watch any Bruce Willis movie and you will now what I mean) you just got a enjoy it with some popcorn, laugh a little, wolf whistle (the girls were hooting away for Surya in the cinema that I went to in Kuala Lumpur) and leave with a happy feeling. This is not the movie to look for the meaning in life.

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