Kuruvi (n) is one of the more common bird species. That's a normal definition. Alternatively, a kuruvi is also a courier who trundles across innocuous products from one country to another. The exact specifications of these transfers remain dubious but it's an easy way of making some loot.
After blockbusters like Dhil, Dhool and Ghilli, director Dharani is back again with Kuruvi, produced by Udhayanidhi Stalin's Red Giant Movies, and starring hit-pair Vijay and Trisha. What with the hype and hoopla surrounding the stars and its proven formula director, Kuruvi arrived with massive expectations, evidenced by the upbeat crowds at the theatre, and screeching fans that did an ecstatic jig the moment the titles appeared on the silver screen.
The first few moments do nothing to dispel that notion. Opening in Cudappah, Andhra Pradesh, amidst arid, rocky lands, villains Konda Reddy (Ashish Vidhyarthi) and Gocha (Suman) make explosive entrances, the spit practically flying off their mouths. As hapless people are forced to slave under the merciless goons in their quarry, Singamuthu (Manivannan, who appears just for a few moments) swears that his son will appear to free them all and take them to a golden future. No prizes for guessing who the saviour is -- or even how the story is going to unfold.
Having said that, here are a few points to watch out in this mass entertainer:
1. The whole Kuruvi concept is a pretty new one, not unlike the basic premise for Azhagiya Thamizh Magan and the first hour is fairly enjoyable, with Vetrivel (Ilaya Thalapathi Vijay) and his best mate Vivek journeying as couriers on the way to Malaysia, trying to get the money to rescue their own home (Why said home is built like a construction site is a question best left unanswered.). But there the kuruvi set-up comes to an abrupt end.
2. Yes, Vetrivel shoots out of man-holes, drives racing cars without the slightest training or know-how, and also effortlessly becomes a kuruvi. As well, in typical 80s fashion, he flies through hundreds of bullets, escapes vehicles, jumps thousands of feet on moving trains, bashes up hundreds of men and manages to get hold of a lover as well -- Devi (Trisha), who naturally falls for his Mask of Zorro get-up.
3. If you expected Dharani to come out with mind-games like in his previous movies, forget it. This little pigeon is built like Bruce Lee, and flexes his muscle every other moment, wearing designer shoes. Aside from a couple of situations where Vel escapes identification from Gocha and outwits the local goons, there's not much of brilliant brain-power. And the scene where Konda Reddy wants to open Gocha's lap-top looks a straight lift from a similar situation in Ghilli.
4. Vijay is a delight to watch even when he's hamming it to the hilt; you only wish he'd been given more comedy situations, as he obviously has a flair for it. You also wish he'd been given some scope for acting. Trisha is tanned and slim, wears tiny outfits and designer saris, which is all that is required of her. That little tyke Kutty looks cute. Ilavarasu acts his part perfectly. Saranya looks authentic even when she's pleading for Trisha's life, while the villains all yell uniformly well. But why does Ashish Vidhyarthi try so desperately to emulate Prakashraj?
5. Babusivan's dialogues are loud, frothy and tear up your ear-drums. The Telugu additions sound authentic, though. Vivek disappears after the first half. The stunt sequences are truly a joy to behold, as Vel dreams up newer and newer ways and weapons to beat up the bad guys.
6. Art Director Maniraj has gone all out, particularly for the song sequences; the sets are colourful, lavish and expensive. Vidhyasagar's music suits the movie perfectly blaring out when necessary, and with thumping songs. Palaanathu and Mozha Mozhannu make a mark.
Kuruvi's got everything to appeal to Vijay fans -- but Dharani the director is lost in this melee of fist-fights and elementary comedy.