Skip to main content

A Dharmic Gangster Movie!

"Whatever is needed is Dharma," or so goes a quote attributed to the philosopher Chanakya prior to the start of Thiagarajan Kumararaja's debut movie, Aaranya Kaandam (the forest chapter). The movie, which is part of Kollywood's new-found passion for off-beat themes, has certainly satisfied its cinematic 'dharma' by looking beyond the traditional masala fare, and still produce a gripping entertainer.

A gangster flick, Aaranya... steers clear of the good v/s bad kind of characterisation, with virtually every character painted in hues of greya departure from the Robin Hood/vigilante-themed movies. Singaperumal (Jackie Shroff), a dreaded gangster, beats up his concubine Subbu (Yasmin Ponnappa) while unable to get it up during intercourse, but makes up for it by handing money to Sappai (Ravi Krishna), his effeminate assistant, asking him to purchase something for her. A kid, Kodukapuli (Master Vasanth), helps his drunkard dad perform his daily ablutions, but steals from a neighbour.

As for the story, Singaperumal and Gajendran (Rambo Rajkumar), who in his attire could put even a Bappi Lahiri to shame, are rival ganglords who do not see eye-to-eye. Singaperumal’s henchman Pasupathy (Sampath) senses a business deal for the gang, which gets struck down by his boss. All of a sudden, everyone starts baying for Pasupathy’s blood. Does he have a solution?

There is never a dull moment in either half of Aaranya..., thanks to the absence of songs and taut editing. Expletives form an integral part of the movie's dialogues, and have been, unsurprisingly, blanked out. Yuvan Shankar Raja seems to have taken refuge in his father Ilayaraja's yesteryear compositions, which he uses as part of the background score. Watch out for the ending, almost a la Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather. This must perhaps be the first Tamil (if not, Indian) gangster movie not to feature an item-number. Gory sequences, in slow motion for added effect, are present throughout the movie.

Shroff, attired in a veshti speaks in halting Tamil, in a measured, gruff tone (he could have been acting in a Mani Ratnam movie!); Sampath fits the bill as a rowdy in a daze (he had a similar role to enact in Venkat Prabhu's Saroja); Ravi Krishna and Yasmin Ponnappa are Aaranya...'s surprise package for the characters that they portray.

Popular posts from this blog

Chennai’s Fourth Estate at War

Touching upon competitive spirit, the legendary writer George Orwell, in an essay dated 1945, had described sport as war minus the shooting. He could very well be referring to the ongoing veiled battle between two of India's English dailies.

When “India’s national newspaper since 1878” and the “Largest read English daily in the world” decide to slug it out over Chennai’s newspaper readership, rest assured that the battle would spill over to the TV media, as was witnessed recently. Cheeky indeed were the ads that thumbed the nose at one another; though, few were in doubt over who the target was.

To the uninitiated, the two newspapers – The Hindu and The Times of India(TOI), respectively – have modus operandi that are as identical as chalk is to cheese, or uppu (salt) is to upma, a South Indian snack. The "war" in question is the race to get hold of the average Chennaiite, and eventually the Indian, newspaper reader’s attention.

And no, this piece of opinion isn’t about the…

7am arivu: Chennai-China Medley Falls Flat

Should ever a book titled ‘The Art of Deception by Flattery’ be authored, A R Murugadoss’ 7 am arivu (the seventh sense) would probably rank atop in its index; it could even be a case study on how to crash land viewers’ expectations after building it up to a crescendo.
The movie begins with a flashback, when we are told that a Pallava princeling (Surya) migrated to China and became the Shaolin master we know today as Bodhidharma. 
Cut to the present. Subha Srinivasan (Shruti Hasan – actor Kamal Hasan’s daughter making her Tamil debut) is a student of genetic engineering whose research causes the jitters to the People’s Republic of China, forcing them to send a spy, Dong Lee (Hollywood actor Johnny Nguyen, who was also a stunt double in Spiderman and Spiderman-2) to bump her off and spread an epidemic in India. (Are we taking a cue from Hollywood, which during the Cold War era vilified then USSR?) Thrown in the conundrum is Aravind (Surya again) a circus artiste, who falls head-over-hee…

Tamil Nadu’s Thala-Thalapathy conundrum