When Subramaniam (Prakashraj) opens the door with omelettes in his hand, to his wayward sons Velu (Krishna) and Jeeva, berating them about the lateness of the hour, and about how lacking they are in responsibility, you hunch in your seat, thinking this is going to be your standard movie about a ragtag hero who suddenly makes it big, bashing up a 100 villains along the way.
And considering that the movie in question is Talking Times Movies' Tamil film Alibhabha, directed by debutant Neelan G Sekar and starring director Vishnuvardhan's brother Krishna, there's very little in the way of expectations.
Until, that is, you find that Subramaniam isn't actually a meek householder but a suave thief who's actually in the house to steal its belongings (while simultaneously providing his sons -- also thieves -- with some nourishment), you sit up pleasantly intrigued.
Velu and his cohorts are petty thieves under the 'leadership' of Subramaniam, who runs a fairly successful thieving operation in the city, explaining the concept of a 'Third Man,' a fall guy who takes the rap while they escape with their booty. Velu finds the time to run into pretty Janani (newcomer Janani), who works in a bank and thinks he's a golden guy who helps people get back lost jewelry.
In the meantime, young women are mysteriously murdered all around the city, stumping the DCP Thyagarajan, in charge of the investigations.
Velu gets a sudden and surprise key to an enormous stash of cash -- the proverbial Alibhabha's cave of wealth and fortune. Out on a guy's night, Velu and his friend draw some money from their bank account only to find, instead of their meager resources, a staggering Rs 5,00,000.
Perplexed, the friends immediately begin to throw around the cash, ignoring Subramaniam's advice, who suspects a rat. Just in time, as the Commissioner gets himself killed. Too late, Velu finds out that in this sudden inflow of money and riches, someone has made him the third man -- the perfect fall guy in a conspiracy that has surrounded him like an invisible net.
There are too many suspects. The final answer to the puzzle is a real surprise.
Krishna as the rugged Velu whose specialty is ripping off purses does a commendable job. He's aware that he's no chocolate hero, and has chosen a role that does him justice -- though he could do with some emotion in the serious scenes.
Janani, surprisingly, has more to do than just act coy, and has done a neat job. Prakashraj is extremely comfortable as the father figure, while Thyagarajan, the DCP is a real surprise: his frustration, inability, helplessness and deviousness mirror in his eyes, easily making him the best actor in the show.
But the star, clearly, is Neelan G Sekar, who takes the cake for a near perfect screenplay, with twist and turns you don't expect, a movie that doesn't patronize, and with enough thrills to make this delectable fare.
Certain cinematic frills like item songs and random fights (especially in the climax) do slow down the tempo but what the heck, the rest of the movie takes your mind away from these petty interruptions.
Vidhyasagar's music is so-so. Dhinesh Kumar's camera work makes sure you get the best of the story, neatly wrapped.
With its allusions to the legend of Alibhabha, this latest flick has all the ingredients of a standard masala flick but it's got something more; a darn good story and intelligent screenplay that'll make you stick to your seats. Definitely worth a watch.