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Strictly for Arjun's fans
Pavithra Srinivasan | October 01, 2008 16:55 IST
A police van trundles away from the main road and into an unknown alleyway, complete with khaki clad officials and a grim-looking man in handcuffs. The van stops; everyone gets out and predictably, a gun is placed at the man's head. A shot is fired and with a bang, this Tamil movie begins.
The lean, mean fighting machine is back as "A Common Man" (that's what the tagline says). Sri Raj Lakshmi Films' Dhurai, directed by masala entertainer A Venkatesh, features "Action and Muscle King" Arjun as a common man who is anything but.
It worked a bit in Marudhamalai, so story and screenplay-writer Arjun has decided to kick off the movie with comedy. In tandem with Arusuvai Ambi (Vivek), a Brahmin cook who snorts and bites through his accent and supplies the comedy, you're introduced to Raja (Arjun).
On a cooking assignment at a wedding, he runs into pretty Anjali (Keerat), who catches his interest. A series of unfortunate photographs leads Ambi into Anjali's hands, and she uses blackmail to get closer to a rather unresponsive Raja.
But the real crux of the story lies in Raja -- he cannot remember anything of his past. All he recollects are vague images and memories that disturb him in his sleep. He is hesitant to commit himself to Anjali but his instincts are always geared towards helping others. Cue for a neat little child-rescue mission that tips off his enemies.
After several bouts of fisticuffs, ably assisted by D Iman's eardrum crashing music, a duet with Anjali and a botched Raja Kaiya Vecha remix, Raja tries to escape when a blow to his head triggers past memories. Voila!
You discover that Raja was, a year ago, Dhurai, part of the hugely successful People's Service Part, headed by Deivanayagam (K Viswanath), a pure and public-service minded leader, to whom Dhurai is the obvious successor. Completely devoid of any ambition (naturally), Dhurai is content to look after his farm, in harmony with his beautiful wife Meena (Ghajala) and son.
And here's the surprise: Anjali, a reporter, knows him even at this point, and as she pursues him for interviews, witnesses his glowing character and falls in love. When informed that he's married, she retires from the lists. In a done-to-death story, these are the parts that provide some interest.
Enter party member Dharma (Vincent Asokan, with his expressive eyes completely wasted in this two-bit role), who casts evil looks at Dhurai, leading you to assume that he's plotting dark schemes against Dhurai. After a midnight meeting in which, strangely, without any other party official about succession, Deivanayagam promises Dhurai the leader's post, Dhurai is arrested by DC Eswara Pandian (O A K Sundar) for having murdered Deivanayagam.
Exactly why Dhurai's wife and son are murdered in the grand scheme to get him out of the way is unexplained -- possibly to provide Dhurai with the opportunity of flexing his considerably toned muscles and powerful action moves, as demonstrated by Power-Fast Karuppiah, the stunt director. And if you still haven't guessed how this movie is going to end, then Arjun may as well wash his hands off you.
Despite the innumerable flaws in the screenplay and laughter-inducing situations, you can't help but marvel at Arjun's ability to carry the film on his "broad" shoulders -- even if he frowns his way through and offers no variation in expression.
Vivek has tried really hard to provoke laughter but loses to Arjun in the comedy department. Both Keerat and Ghajala have very little to do in the acting department except wear loads of make-up and ill-fitting dresses.
As many of the movie's characters speak out of sync (presumably in Telugu), the feeling of watching a dubbed film is very strong. G K Gopinath's dialogues lose their power.
A Venkatesh is capable of good work but in this movie, he's had to bow down to the main player. This is Arjun's and the stunt-director's movie, and they know it.
If you're a keen Arjun fan, you'll get plenty of opportunities to whistle and cheer. If not, you can at least doze your way through.
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