Velayudham doesn't take itself seriously and doesn't expect you to either, says Pavithra Srinivasan
Ilaya Thalapathi Vijay has his comfort zone in the form of formula mass films that have a superhero at its epi-centre, destroying evil; saving his world; offering safety and security to those around him: all preferably done with panache and the prowess of a superman.
This time too, he has attempted more of the same with Aascar Ravichandran's Velayudham, directed by M Raja. It is safe to say that the young commander has managed to hit the bull's eye.
Velayudham, remade from the Telugu hit Azad, with suitable modifications, has a story that's as old as the hills but there are a few elements that do add some flavour to the old wine in a new bottle.
There's Bharathi (Genelia D'Souza), a journalist committed to eradicating terrorism, and who loses two of her friends to it. She comes up with a novel idea that might quell the terror: create a fictional character called Velayudham, who supposedly foils all their plans and torches them alive, to boot.
The thing is, there really is a Velayudham (Vijay) a milkman who lives in the tiny village of Pavunoor, and adores his sister Kaveri (Saranya Mohan). Together, the two create havoc in the village, as Velayudham is the kind of filmi brother who will do anything for his darling sibling, and vice versa. There's also the incredibly bouncy Vaidehi (Hansika Motwani), who wears incredibly revealing pavadai-dhavani, and whose presence leaves you in no doubt as to what her purpose in the film is. Her father (M S Bhaskar) is as silly as they come.
When Velayudham arrives in Chennai to retrieve money from a chit fund for his sister's marriage, he gets entangled in an elaborate terrorist plot and the fun really does begin.
The first half moves at a spanking pace, thanks to Vijay's own incredible comic sense. After a long while, you see not the star Vijay, but a genuinely affectionate brother who wants to get his sister married well. His antics, together with those of Speedu (Santhanam) set the audiences rolling right away. It's this Vijay that you've missed, for so long.
Post the intermission, the speed drops considerably and you're treated to more formulaic, mind-numbing stunts that defy every law of physics. But what does it matter when Vijay looms large? He dances well, beats people up, clad in a stylish attire that's supposedly stolen from a Genghis Khan collection (and which is, so it's said, inspired from Assassin's Creed), and wields a samurai sword to the manner born. He's the ultimate super-hero, and makes no bones about it.
Saranya Mohan, as his sister has precious little to do except look adorable and hug him a lot, which she does dutifully. She gets almost as much screen-time as Genelia D'Souza, who, for once, has given up the giggling school-girl act and actually has something to do. Hansika, however, doesn't, and her tittering gets on your nerves after a while.
Santhanam delivers his usual, as is his wont. The rest of the cast: Suri, Shayaji Shinde, Manivannan, et al merely form part of the backdrop.
Of Vijay Antony's numbers, Rathathin Rathame (sung, presumably, to Vijay's sister, but in reality, to Vijay's fans) and Molaichu Moonu linger. V T Vijayan's editing could have been utilised better in the second half, while Priyan's cinematography fits the bill.
With Subha's dialogues adding some pep, director M Raja has set out to provide a masala entertainer that doesn't require you to tax your brain cells. Velayudham doesn't take itself seriously and doesn't expect you to either. In other words, it's paisa vasool.