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Arasangam, a pleasant surprise

May 09, 2008 18:35 IST

Sometimes, you go to a movie with the lowest of expectations. Either the whole cast and crew is new or it's an old and established one, with its own values, ethics, story and acting set in stone. And when it's a star/politician with a lot at stake both in cinema and politics, you're doubly sure that the movie isn't going to be anything to write home about.

Captain Cine Arts' Tamil film Arasangam (Government) directed by Madhesh and starring 'Captain' Vijaykanth certainly didn't inspire wild hopes of an excellent movie. But fate has a way of throwing you off. This movie is one such pleasant surprise. 

One of the first surprise elements is that Vijaykanth doesn't appear until at least twenty minutes of the movie has passed, which is a very good thing. And when he does appear, there's less of pyrotechnics and fireworks exploding. This time, he's Arivarasu, an instructor at the Police Training Academy. He's intellectual, dignified, intelligent and well-versed in the world's best police training methods. He trains batches of students by conducting simulated police exercises.

So when the police, baffled at the disappearance of his best friend Manoj (Biju Menon) and several assassinations of prominent scientists and entrepreneurs calls him to investigate, it actually makes sense. Not to mention the fact that Manoj is actually his brother-in-law too.

A little interlude of how Aarthi (Navneet Kaur) becomes his wife is rather cutely shot.

And then, when you expect gunshots and fisticuffs, the story surprises you with a logical train of events. Arivarasu, instead of fighting a thousand goons single-handedly, takes mature decisions and follows procedures. At every point he uses his brains and predicts the outcome. And even if such an outcome is rather amateurish at times, you still like the panache with which he does it.

Chandru (Rahul Dev) is the first of many villains who manages to throw our hero off track, and then gets killed just at the right moment. Many more follow as well as an unexpected twist in the tale. The hunt for Manoj takes Arivarasu to Canada which reminds you of shades of Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu.

With Aarthi safe at home as wife, it's the turn of Lara (Seril Brindo), a member of the Royal Canadian Police Force, to show him the ropes. How she does this by wearing skimpy clothes and high heels is a mystery. Fortunately, there's actually something for her to do. And then it's back to saving the country.

This being his 150th movie, Vijaykanth has certainly made several carefully thought out decisions. Firstly, there are no shrill screams about patriotism and long speeches about serving the country, except in the climax. But since Biju Menon also has a part to play, it's evenly matched.

The crux of the assassinations is well-explained, and Vijaykanth takes the time to throw in a few well-placed barbs at the present political scenario. There is no unnecessary bashing up either.

At a strategically important position in Tamil Nadu politics, he undoubtedly understands the need to appear suave, polished and educated -- and indeed, does inspire a certain dignity with his portrayal. It shows a good deal for his maturity that he's chosen a role that fits his age, and has acted with restraint.

Biju Menon in a meaty role this time has done well. An emaciated Rahul Dev looks the part, though he hams throughout. Both the heroines have very little to do but prance around in designer costumes. Sreeman appears very briefly, but makes an impression. So does a clean-shaven and fit Riyaz Khan.

Rocky Rajesh's stunts have hit the mark, only to be expected in a 'Captain' film.

Srikanth Deva's songs are mediocre except for the foot-tapping Kuruvi.

In the end though, its Madhesh's screenplay that wins, showing some signs of intelligence and hard work. Go watch the movie with nil expectations.

Rediff Rating:

Pavithra Srinivasan