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A good show
Pavithra Srinivasan | February 20, 2009 15:52 IST
2009 appears to be he year of the underdog. While huge stars are finding their ascent on the slope of success slippery, relatively lesser known names are finding ways and means to route out good scripts and make an impact with their skills.
Cosmos Entertainment's Tamil film Laadam (Horse-shoe), directed by Prabhu Solomon (who has a penchant for a different screenplay with movies like Kokki) certainly strikes you as one of those movies that actually has something called logic in its screenplay. Most of the time, that is.
The opening is something you've been watching on Tamil screens for some time now: While rival gangs of Pavadai (Kota Srinivasa Rao, back in a slightly powerful role, harking to his Saami days) and Vempuli (V Jeyaprakash) rule the roost with a horde of men in Chennai.
A raw and na�ve youth Kunjithapaatham (newcomer Aravindhan) arrives from an orphanage to the city, eager to find a job and improve his life. Enter Angel (Charmee), a happy-go-lucky girl who goes around slipping ad-tags on houses by day, and breaks into empty houses by night but only to eat and sleep. She's a strange character, taking on the identities of the house-owners and spouting cine dialogues every second. Loud, but cheerful.
And then the clash we expect happens: Pavadai's son Pugazh is murdered by his opponent. Meantime, Kunjithapaatham's friend Subramaniam's scooted out of the city because he's fallen back on installments, and Pavadai's men, out collecting installments drag our hapless hero to their den. About to pull out his tooth akin to Chinese torture methods, they're stopped by Pavadai, who raves and rants that they should be out killing Vempuli's son Aditya (Dheeraj) who's coming back home from abroad. Aditya must be dead before Pugazh's 16th day ceremony, he rages.
And what must our loud-mouthed hero do, but talk about men who looked like mountains but have brains of a peanut. What Pavadai needs is a man with intelligence enough to suavely kill Aditya and get away with it.
The scene where everyone's attention slowly turns towards our pea-sized brain Kunjithapaatham, lecturing Pavadai and his gangster-men in such a care-free fashion is a masterpiece.
And then begins a cat-and-mouse game, where Kunjithapaatham is steadily rammed with a horse-shoe in the form of the rival gangs' attempts to murder each other and himself -- thus explaining the movie's title. He gets into the company of Angel as well, who manages to liven up his stress-filled life with her random, silly observations even if it begins to get on his nerves at times.
The first half, with its minute characterization (especially the hulking gangsters who have done a magnificent job -- kudos to the casting!) runs at breakneck speed while the second half slows down a good deal. Some random scenes spoil the show, like Hussein Sagar Lake in Hyderabad, when the movie's apparently set in Chennai.
Harsha's editing is adequate, but the movie could still have done with some tightening; Vairabalan's art-work fits the bill (especially in Aditya's bus), while Sugumaran's camera preserves the intensity and edge-of-seat suspense. Dharan's songs are a lot of noise, except for Siru Thoduthalile, which is mildly hummable. Some background sequences take you straight back to Titanic [Images].
Debutant Aravindhan looks suitably harassed, wide-eyed and frightened out of his wits most of the time ; a definite pre-requisite for the role, and these parts he's handled very well. On the other hand, his part in the climax is jarring -- it ought to have been presented with a bit more impact.
For Charmee, this is the role of a lifetime: she mimics every actor under the sun, mouths the dialogues from the 50s and generally has a blast. Hers is a well-moulded character, bringing in lots of laughs.
V Jeyaprakash is your average suave villain; Kota Srinivasa Rao reminds you of how talented he really is, and how underused, as well. Dheeraj seems to have had a ball with his horrible accent and playing a thorough, sadistic baddie.
Laadam might have a few minor loop-holes but Prabu Solomon's script (even if it's been liberally borrowed from abroad) puts up a good show.
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