Home > Movies > Reviews
Vikram turns up trumps with Dhool
January 23, 2003 16:40 IST
Writer-director Dharani has done it again. With his Dhill hero and old Loyola College-mate Vikram, the director has come up with a Pongal blockbuster that reveals a very sure instinct for the pulse of the box-office.
Dhool, the film under review, sets out to tell the story of a village facing danger from a factory that releases poisonous effluents into the drinking water source.
Vikram, Jyotika and Paravai Muniyamma (the famed folk singer, here seen in a character role), leave for the city to meet the local MLA (Sayaji Shinde), who is also a minister in the state cabinet.
They share a house with Vivek, who hails from their native village. The neighbourhood also contains sexy, half-clad model (Reema Sen) who falls for Vikram.
Almost from day one, Vikram clashes with the female rowdy (Telengana Sulochana) who holds the area in thrall. The clashes get more serious and climaxes in a local election, in the course of which the rowdy kills the 'Gandhian' candidate, and threatens to kill Vikram after the polls.
On election day, Jyotika is molested by a gang member and the hero enters and bashes everyone up.
The rest of the story is about how the hero faces reversals, recovers, and triumphs over the forces of evil.
It is, as stories go, not the newest thing in town. In fact, the déjà vu element is large, with many scenes and even some characters echoing what you have seen before, in films like Gentleman.
Yet, it works, and the credit for that has to go, in large part, to a team that plays as a team; with each member delivering exactly what is required of him or her by a screenplay packed with crisp, breezy scenes and a complete absence of dull moments.
Vikram is at his peak. Unlike main rivals Ajit and Vijay, he is not monochromatic. He seems as much at home with comedy as with action, in romance as in emotional sequences. Another hit or two, and he will have installed himself firmly on top of the Tamil marquee at the expense not only of his contemporaries but also of ageing stars like Kamal Haasan and Vijaykanth.
Jyotika is her breezy self, and has the hit she has needed for a while; Reema provides the glamour, Sulochana is as over the top as her role requires her to be, and Shinde's villainy is believable. Vivek and Mayilswamy, with Ari Giri adding the extra dimension, provide a humour track that keeps you going without ever intruding on the story or slackening its pace.
An interesting dimension is the presence of Malayalam soft porn star Shakila, in a special appearance. Her appearance is greeted with the kind of adulation that confirms her cult status. At a recent showing in a Chennai theatre, one besotted fan went so far as to run up to the screen and kiss his heartthrob.
Paravai Muniyamma deserves special mention not just for her singing, but her use of voice and histrionics in her character role.
The teamwork shows even behind the scenes. Action choreographed by Rocky Rajesh and 'Super' Subbarayan, dances by Kalyan to the music of Vidyasagar (though a couple of numbers are cut-paste versions of foreign originals), and V T Vijayan's editing are all impeccable.
Every element of commercial filmmaking is present and accounted for, in this expensively made entertainer. And the credit for coming up with the perfect mix goes to Dharani.
Obviously a firm believer in the importance of treating a film as a team effort, Dharani plays captain, bringing the best out of his actors and support crew. What strikes you about his style is that it is unpretentious.
He sets out to entertain, he makes no bones about that, and any message he delivers is done with a total absence of pretension. His scripting and narrative style are taut and his pacing flawless.
Just two (three, if you count his unreleased debut under his original name Ramani) films old, Dharani already has signs of being a Manmohan Desai in the making.