Saturday, October 29, 2011

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. 
Six-pack that packs a punch
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-heels in love with Subha. Perhaps not since the Kamal Hasan starrer Apoorva Sagodharargal has a Tamil cine hero been a circus artiste; the song Yamma Yamma…, evokes memories of the song Unnai Nenachen… from the same movie. 

Chinese spy, a Hollywood hangover?
Surya flaunts his six-pack in a breezy portrayal of the two characters. For a debutante, Shruti gets to portray a substantial role. The narrative in the first half is tolerable, which deteriorates in the latter, with generous doses of implausibility and jingoism. When Subha tells Arvind that Bodhidharman’s qualities can be revived in him, you simply yawn and know which way the movie is headed. Lee, as a hypnotist and a mass-murderer, does a splendid job of whatever is within the realm of a Tamil movie villain. The scenes lifted from Terminator, where Lee goes on the rampage inside a police station, and Matrix-2, when an autorickshaw driver does a Carrie Ann Moss and speeds in the wrong side of the road, are hard to miss.

Murugadoss seems to have planted one foot in Hollywood-style film making; the other is however, trapped in constraints of commercial, mediocre brand of Indian cinema.

Rajagopalan Venkataraman