August 5, 2002 
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Vikram in Samurai
Samurai is a case of opportunities lost


Vikram is riding a crest with three hits to his credit, namely Dhill, Kaasi and Gemini.

The Tamil film Samurai, therefore, comes to the theatres with this enormous weight of expectations. Apparently, it has been in the making for two years, and it is big budget, coming from the Aalayam banner.

Alas, the net result is disappointing. Why? The story or, more correctly, the worn out theme that is very reminiscent of recent films. Granting the treatment is good, the technique is dissimilar to those used in those other films and is definitely attention-grabbing, these factors alone cannot overcome a shopworn theme.

Thiyagu and his friends kidnap bad elements --- in this instance, evil politicians --- and keep them isolated. When caught, Thiyagu (Vikram) takes to the platform to express his angst, whereby he is obviously voicing the thoughts and feelings of the masses. He then presents the politicians, unscathed, and calls for a change in existing laws --- at which point the common man takes over and ventilates his anger.

Why Thiyagu took up cudgels against political corruption is told through a flashback. You have probably experienced that too, at some level, and would therefore empathise --- but after a bit, it becomes a bit laborious.A still from Samurai

A film that borrows from others of the past gets away with it, but when you rehash recent stories that have not yet had a chance to fade from the audience's mind, you lose impact.
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Directors emulating their mentors is becoming so common as to pass almost unnoticed --- here, Balaji Saktivel emulates Shankar unabashedly. Cinematographer Sethu Sriram comes up with unusual angles and shots --- but there is a 'look at me' about the whole thing; a sort of calling attention to the craft.

The screenplay is appealing, especially noteworthy being the low key, understated depiction of Vikram's love for his batchmate Jaya Seal.

Harris Jayaraj's music is yet another highlight. You wait for the song Oru nadhi oru odam, expecting some great picturisation, but it gets lost in a pop album presentation.

Another minus is in pacing --- thus, as things hot up and move towards a climax, you have a totally unnecessary scene of Vikram and his lady love cavorting in the desert, which only manages to irritate.

Vikram, though, is convincing in his portrayal --- the 'training' scenes where he gains expertise and invulnerability is thrilling and the stunt scenes draw applause.

You leave the cinema hall on a sigh --- you know there is good and bad in the film. And you sigh at an opportunity lost.

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