M.Sasikumar and Samudrakani had teamed up in 2008 to deliver one of the most successful and critically acclaimed Tamil movie in recent times- Subramaniapuram. While Sasikumar wrote, directed and produced Subramaniapuram and with Samudrakani playing the negative lead in the same, the roles were reversed in Nadodigal which released in 2009. This time around the film was written and directed by Samudrakani and Sasikumar played the main lead. In between Sasikumar also went on to produce Pasanga which was directed by Pandiraj and is certainly one of the better children’s films made in India recently. So after Nadodigal the next project from this team was eagerly awaited and when news came out that this time it will be a film to be directed again by Sasikumar, it was met with a positive response. What was also surprising was that it was announced that this time around Sasikumar would be only working behind the camera (writing, producing & directing) and not in front of it. Nothing much was disclosed about the film titled ‘Easan’, except that the film was to be urban centric unlike the other films from the team and that Samudrakani would play an important character.
Though I tried hard to know more about the film there wasn’t much information available and after a while I just told myself that the wait will be better if I remained in the dark about the film’s plot etc. Roughly 2 weeks before the film’s release the first look and the trailer was unveiled. In fact I was not sure of the release date and when the cinematographer of the film, S.R.Kathiir told me that it would be 2 weeks later ( 17th Dec,2010 ) I was taken aback for a while. For these days it’s usually a minimum period of a month that is taken for promoting the film before the release. But when I realized that the film was getting very good theatres with such short notice, I couldn’t help but admire the strategy of the team. Also the past record of the people associated with the film certainly helped. WithKamal Haasan’s Manmadhan Ambu being pushed ahead by a week (initially to release on the same day as Easan), things became even more favorable for the film with a lot of additional screens being made available.
So what is Easan all about? Well at the very outset I’d say that in terms of the basic construct or the genre it’s actually a revenge drama, but not of the type that’s usually seen on screen. The film starts with establishing a range of characters- Chezhiyan (Vaibhav) is a carefree youth and son of a corrupt minister Deivanayagam (producer A.L.Alagappan). Chezhiyan hangs around with his group of friends and keeps crossing swords with Sangayya (Samudrakani), Assistant Commissioner of Police. We then see Chezhiyan falling in love with Reshma ( Aparna Bajpai ), the daughter of Shivaraj a business magnate (modeled on Vijay Mallya). In true cinema style Shivaraj doesn’t initially approve of the alliance because he considers himself to be on a higher pedestal than Deivanayagam. But situations change and reluctantly Shivaraj too approves of the alliance between Chezhiyan and Reshma. So alls well and its party time and just when we are wondering where the story is gonna be heading, Chezhiyan goes missing. And there comes the intermission point.
While one would expect the rest of the film to ideally be a sort of thriller and try to uncover the mystery behind the disappearance of Chezhiyan, the 2nd half of the film is all that and a lot more. While the 1st half of the film is a complete ride into the nightlife of Chennai what with discotheques, pubs, bars, rave parties and beachside revelry of a different kind, the 2nd half completely treads into a different territory. It’s an area slightly more familiar for Sasikumar and team, not that they get the nightlife part wrong. The film works primarily due to the casting and characterization. Samudrakani as Sangayya, the ACP and A.L.Alagappan as Deivanayagam, the corrupt minister lead the show and rightly set the tone for the film.Namo Narayanan as Gopal the man friday of Deivanayagam is also extremely good.
Malayalam filmmaker Blessy plays an important character and the voice of M.S.Bhaskar goes down very well for the character of Karupaswamy. Dushi as Easan and Abhinaya as Poorani are extremely effective. Their characters actually hold the 2nd half in good control and sustain the interest level. Vaibhav as Chezhiyan is good and the role is a marked departure from what he has portrayed in films like Saroja and Goa. But there are also one too many characters and though some of them are well etched and enacted including that of Rao Ramesh, they do not really add to the overall tenor of the film. There are a lot of interesting moments in the film like the scene where Deivanayagam is discussing the industrial proposal with the businessman, but continues to undress/change his clothes or the scene where Sangayya is at Shyamala’s home and interacts with her husband. These are just examples and there are many more such moments in the film. James Vasanthan’s music may not be as popular as that of Subramaniapuram but certainly scores in terms of variety. Be it the peppy Meyyana Inbam or the folksy Jilla Vittu or the breezy Kannil Anbai, the songs go with the flow of the film.
Along with Sasikumar’s writing and narration the other highlight of the film is S.R.Kathiir’s cinematography. Be it in the nightlife of Chennai captured in the various party zones or in the temple festival portions, the visuals are simply interesting. To talk about specific moments or scenes would spoil the fun for those who are yet to watch the film.A.L.Ramesh’s editing helps especially in the later part of the film and Tapas Nayak’s audiography shines especially be it in the energetic party number at the start of the film (Meyyana Inbam ) or the climax. For those who may complain about the length of the film, it’s already been taken care of. With the original length of around 3 hr 10 mins being shown only in the 1st two days, around 20-25 mins have gone on to be chopped from the film. While I have seen both versions and prefer the longer version, at least what is welcome is the fact that the forced editing does not impact too much on the flow of the film’s narrative.
There are moments when you might feel that Sasikumar is trying hard to be different this time around and show that he’s adept at portraying the more urbane and hip side of the society as well when compared to his previous film. But you cannot also but appreciate the fact that the detailing has been fairly good. For those who would compare this film with Subramaniapuram or Nadodigal there could be disappointment in store. But if you are looking at the film with an open mindset and willing to wait till the end of the film before passing your final judgment, it could well be a interesting film indeed. Three cheers to Sasikumar and team for their pursuit to continue to make films of their kind, yet which appeal to people.
Note- This was originally written after the release of the film ( Dec 2010 ) but now re-edited and published again considering Sasikumar being again in the news with his latest film Sundarapandian