Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu


Yes, the premise of this exercise when I started back in May was solely Hindi movies, but having just seen Kamalhasan’s latest (Tamil) movie Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, I’m making an exception.

I’d been burned by the last few Tamil movies I handed over good money to see – first Priyasakhi and then Paramasivam – in spite of the fact that I liked the lead actors (Madhavan and Ajith, respectively).  

In Priyasakhi, a kind of Thamizh Banarasi Babu, everything Vestern was bad, slapping the little woman a few times was ok, and, in this one, Maddie goes to court to order his soon-to-be-ex-wife to carry their baby to term, then he will take the little tyke and raise it himself, since his phoren-influenced wife is not good mother material.  

Paramasivam, also starring  personal fave Prakash Raj, was too long, too boring and too obvious.   You know you’re off to a bad start when, in the first minute  of a film, you see a guy with an umbrella-type baby carriage about to apply  a screwdriver to it, and you murmur to your companion “He’s making a bomb”, and you’re right.   This movie’s only saving grace was its quintissentially typical Tamil movie’s raunchy, rump-shaking Asai Dosai number.

But after a somewhat  favorable assessment of VV from a Madras-born girlfriend, and curiosity to see how it portrayed New York City, I’m glad I went.

Directed by Gautham Menon (of Kaaka Kaaka fame), Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu (Hunt and Play) is the story of S. Raghavan, a tough cop (is there ever a movie about a softie cop? moreover, would we  watch one?) who has a hangdog  look about him, likely owing  to the tragic impact  his work has had  on  the people closest to  him.  

Raghavan gets involved in the investigation of the murder of the daughter of his mentor, Arokiraj (Prakash Raj).   His former partner in policing is horrified to open his front door one day and find his daughter’s severed finger hanging from one of these (see below), like a  malevolent mistletoe of sorts.   (By the way, what is the name for these things????   I’ve asked everyone I know, all and sundry  recognize that they are a  talisman to ward off evil, but no one can give me a name.   Yet.)

Not long after the discovery of the murdered girl, Raghavan finds out that both Arokiraj and wife, who were so  griefstricken they  moved to New York, have been executed.   He hops a plane to Newark, and while he flies across continents, he has a flashback on his earlier career with Arokiraj, and we learn that Raghavan was once married.   The onboard flashback takes us through his first encounter with his wife, their days together, through to her kidnapping and murder.

Once in the U.S., he is partnered with a member of the NYPD and installs himself at a midtown hotel.   No sooner does Raghavan unpack then he finds himself saving the life of the girl next door, Aradhana (played by the  just-married Jyothika), who is despondent over the break-up of her marriage and in the process of trying to kill herself.   Eventually (can you see this coming?), she and Raghavan become friends.

While doing some sleuthing with his vellai counterpart, Raghavan discovers four more victims of the same killer he’s seeking, and he starts to narrow in on a suspect.   There is a violent confrontation in a Brooklyn apartment (that no one could have walked away from in real life) and the killer flees back to India.   As soon as Kamalhasan has recovered, he and Jyothika return to Madras, sitting comfy in Business Class, and actually standing during part of the long flight home to chat by the lavatory (vah! kya location!).  

On the passport control line –  second only to the ITC Welcomgroup lounge as the most romantic place at Chennai Airport –  Raghavan  declares his love to Aradhana, only to be met by a queasy look and the “I’m-just-not-ready-for-a-relationship-right-now” spiel.

Raghavan’s nemesis continues to kill and taunt him, until  a violent climax that also (can you see this coming?) involves Aradhana, who has just come to  realize that she does have feelings for the 50-something cop after all.

It’s not a perfect movie, and the biggest complaint I have is the link between homosexuality and the killer’s motive.   It’s an  irresponsible,  erroneous and dangerous way to explain the behaviour of someone who, we are to believe, enjoys raping and mutilating women before finishing them off.    It’s very disappointing that someone of Kamalhasan’s reputation and power in the  Tamil film industry  would willingly participate in  this movie  without objecting and asking the director  to find an alternative  back story for the  serial killer.  

That said, the Raghavan character was interesting enough to want to watch for two hours plus.   Kamalhasan plays him with an appropriate compactness of gesture and weariness.   It’s refreshing to see a slightly more nuanced Jyothika as a mother and woman with a career, though still young enough to be Kamalhasan’s daughter.   (Aiyo.)

The hair crew at VV should be taken to task for the bad dye jobs on the men.   Kamalhasan’s hair is a shade of black not found anywhere in nature, while it looks like all they did to make Prakash Raj go grey was sprinkle talcum powder liberally through his hair and moustache.

Both Kamalhasan and Prakash Raj are broad-shouldered and slim in the leg, and  like many men their age, both are a bit soft around the middle, with a certain fleshiness of body and face that is pleasing.   Possibly for this reason, the audience at the screening I attended laughed loudly at the  “Hello Moto” ringtone of Raghavan’s phone.   It was jarring to see a taciturn, senior  cop with his experience responding to the same sound that was once popular with Japanese teens.

The picturization of the Partha Mudal song that we see as part of Raghavan’s flashback to  the time with his wife has moments that are beatifully executed, including an overhead shot of the two in their new home, curled up in an embrace on the tile floor, with the pallu of the wife’s black, red and gold sari spread out  behind her.   The Neerupae Goa number was fun, though it looked more like an item number to be found in a Hindi movie than the usual filmi equivalent from TamilNad.

Half of the movie takes place in Manhattan and a lot of the action  take place in and around Times Square, as well as the Jersey waterfront and South Street Seaport.   One annoying technique, repeated several times, was to show some familiar area of NYC, but to have the shot inverted, so the sky was below and ground above, which was pointless.   Also without reason were the frequent references to the time in the corner of the screen.   Such a detail would be fine in a film where the exact time or date matter (e.g. Dus, or an episode of M*A*S*H where the docs only have 30 minutes to complete an operation on a patient packed in ice), but here it was just annoying.

See it or skip it?

As much as I liked the rest of the movie (Kamalhasan, Jyothika, the music), it’s a shame to encourage a director whose film tars the gay community so badly.

23 thoughts on “Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu

  1. see no one understood the ‘GAY’ point.! kamal said that jus to irritate the villan. The whole point was they are not gays. common, he is a cop, they have raped lot of girls. and in india, especially south, gays are not mentally accepted in the society, so its like accusing (thats how people think). and let me explain one thing. In india, people doesnt really appreciate the cinematography, direction music etc. very very less. Many people , say abt 70% go to theater to watch movie which has happy ending, emotional blah blah..

    Another point is, in india , esp south, let the movie be technically awesome, but it doesnt really, for te pple as long as the movie is funny, emotional etc,perfect example : rajinikanths movie(he does all funny stuffs, stil people appreciate it, ‘MASS’ plays a very big role..(i m nt comparing anyone). So i hope you get my point. VV was an amazing movie with Hollywood class.

    btw jus watched the movie in SUN TV 😀 hope u all watched VV(vinnaithandi varuvaya) it was one good movie too..!

  2. Saw this recently and never thought about the villians being labeled as “gay.” For me, it was just a joke. Like how I joke with my hubby about his BFF being his girlfriend, stuff like that, I don’t know. Overall, I did like the movie

  3. I’m not sure if the gay thing is used as an explanation or simply as a deliberate attempt by Raghavan to get under the killer’s skin. I got the sense that it was the latter.

  4. i want to know, which actor acted in gharshana movie as a venkatesh friends and wich actors acted as a villein in raghavan movie, both are same or not send me queikly please

  5. RavC, yes I suppose it was allowing a happy ending for Kamla to get his girl back alive. And I agree, Saif was amazing in Omkara.

    Mouttou, bienvenu chez moi. Je suis d’accord, tout vetu de noir, Kamla looks good.

  6. the great kamalhassan had once again showed that he is one of the legend of the indian cinema.
    he looks verys smart in his black suit,shoes and sunglasses espite his age.
    the songs are quite good to listen.
    but the question that everybody asking are those killers gays?
    gautham followed his ways to direct like he did in KAKA KAKA.
    the actors did portray brillantly the mad killers.
    anyway,it was a real treat for all kamalhassan fans,i did enjoy and now i am waiting for ulayaka nayakan(universal hero) next venture DASAVATARAM.

  7. Great review. Just saw VV last night. Superb movie.

    For once, I did not see the megalomaniac, over-confident, taking-advantage-of-his-heroine Kamal that I am used to seeing. My wife hates him for the third adjective. Ironically, in spite of this comment, I am a die-hard Kamal fan. Kamal was very very composed and really acted his part (the other movie where he had a similar performance was Kurudhi Punal).

    Gowtham Menon has really shown that even Indian directors are capable of no-nonsense movies similar to Hollywood movies, without adding masala to make the movie hit.

    I liked Daniel Balaji too to a good extent. The newer breed of actors sometimes turn out acting amateurish. Balaji still has a bit of amateurishness in him.

    Issues I had with the movie:
    1) I did not like the ending. Jyothika should have been left dead. I really felt that they would have shot that first (more convincing ending) and then they might have shot a happy ending. The story does not warrant a happy ending. Knowing Amudhan’s (villain) strategy, he would have raped, totally mutilated Aparna and would surely have killed her before burying. Or if he is running short of time, at least would have raped and killed her.

    2) I am ok with showing gay guys killing people. But killing girls… and raping them because “nee romba azhaga irukke… thange mudiyale” and “… I cannot resist…”. The gay guys seem to have a real identity crisis. Are they really gay??

    Other good movies that I saw recently
    – Veyyil (Pasupathy kalakkittan. Very convincing acting. Very deep storyline)
    – Omkara (Saif Ali unbelievable acting)

  8. Govar, they were actually watched without any recommendation. We don’t get that many Tamil movies on the big screen, maybe one every two or three months, or longer, and I like Madhavan and Ajith and Prakash Raj, so I went quite voluntarily.

    I love most of Mani Rathnam’s films, though I wasn’t terribly wowed by Roja.

    Thanks for the other recommendations.

  9. I can’t beleive someone suggested you to watch Priyasakhi and then Paramasivam. Those are movies even people who’ve life their entire lives in TN would avoid.

    If you are really interested in catching with class movies, watch all the movies by Mani Rathnam (Roja, Mouna Raagam, Nayagan)… and then Kaaka kaaka and Anbe SIvam. These are real classy ones.

  10. Hi Filmiholic,

    Your Review is nice.I will recomend you to watch the following movies in tamil

    1. Mouna Raagam (Directed by Mani Rathnam)
    2. Angi Nakasthiram (Directed by Mani Rathnam)
    3. Mudalvan (Directed by Shankar)

  11. I think the talisman with the finger hanging from is called, if i’m not wrong, “thirshty or dhrishty”. I can ask around for exact phrase and let u know. Thanks for the review.

  12. Erm, that’s Madam, Sandeep, but thanks very much all the same. 🙂

    More to come soon, and what a line-up of movies ahead for Diwali and Eid through to the end of the year!

  13. Great review sir 🙂 The movie needed some real heavy editing esp in the 2nd half.

    And not just the reference to gays, but the dialogue towards the end of the movie where Kamal says “Here, I’ll hand over your wife” was kinda crass.

    And great site here. Will keep coming for more. Do not disappoint 😉

  14. the comments disgracing homosexuality and the link between psychopaths and homosexuals is worrying. esp when it’s like the norm rather than the exception.

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