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Kamal Haasan is brilliant in Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu
Krishna Kumar

A still from Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu
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September 01, 2006 16:15 IST
The one reason why Kamal Haasan's [Images] Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu might not work is that the movie's framework is too similar to the template of director Gowtham Menon's previous hit Kaaka Kaaka.

The story revolves around an honest cop, for whose dedication dear ones pay with their lives, leading to a no-holds barred hunt for the bad guys.

The one reason it may work is that -- Kamal's excellent performance notwithstanding -- Vettaiyadu is, at a basic level, a director's movie in which the actor has put in a brilliant performance, rather than being a Kamal Hassan [Images] movie directed by Menon.

Not for one moment in the two-and-a-half hour film do you see that larger-than-life screen god called Kamal Haasan. All you see is a slice from the life of this rather middle-aged cop called Raghavan.
In his best performance in recent times, Kamal portrays the character with believable honesty and charm.

After the customary sycophantic title song, the movie opens with the kidnapping of the daughter of a police officer, Arokiaraj (Prakash Raj [Images]). Arokiaraj's friendship with Raghavan dates back to years, and before long Kamal is standing over the grave of the daughter. A bereaved Arokiaraj and his wife move to New York, only to be murdered, in execution style, the movie informs us.

As Raghavan flies down to New York to assist the police with the investigation into the double-murder, the story keeps us engaged with a flashback of how Arokiaraj spots Raghavan and the two combine to curb crime in small town Tamil Nadu. And how Raghavan's wife Kayalvizhi (Kamalini Mukherjee) is compromised for his straightforwardness.

Kamalini's endearing cameo ensures that we are not tired at the end of the long journey to New York.

The first thing Raghavan does after he lands in New York on the murder trail is to save the life of the guest in the adjacent hotel room.
It is a woman trying to commit suicide. She speaks Tamil. She is Aradhana (Jyothika) who has just broken up with her husband and has come to New York to contemplate on starting a new life or to end the old one.

There start two parallel narratives, one littered with a whole lot of dead as Raghavan sets off in pursuit of the killer who snuffed out his friend and his family, and the other where the charms of a middle-aged, daredevil, single cop work overtime unintentionally on the young Aradhana.
Revealing anymore about the story will spoil your trip.
Menon proves that he holds immense potential as he meshes the hunt for the killer and the sub-plot, if you may call it so, seamlessly.

There are dialogues that may sound corny in any other movie: Goading a foreign officer to probe a dead end on a hunch, Kamal tells him: 'Back home, it is called the Raghavan instinct.' In another scene, when a troubled Jyothika tells him that talking to him was soothing, Kamal says: 'Everyone who talks to me says the same thing.'
In probably her best performance till date, Jyothika sparkles in a sober role. With a m�lange of expressions, she makes you believe that a young girl at the crossroads in her life can fall for an older man merely after -- what Raghavan brilliantly terms -- Urayadalgal (a few conversations).

Kamal's and Jyothika's performance almost mask the jarring flaws of other lead characters. Well, almost. The characters of the antagonists are badly etched and Daniel Balaji and Saleem Baig look silly.
The two, who look straight out of a mindless slasher movie, are big disappointments in the movie.
But the most disappointing part is the music. Mr Harris Jayaraj, what has happened to you? The music, which could have taken the movie to a different level, is so loud that it seriously hinders the story flow.
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