M.Saravanan who started off his career as an A.D with A.R.Murugadoss turned director with Ganesh (2009), a Telugu film which didn’t succeed. But his mentor A.R.Murugadoss gave him a big break by signing him up for Engaeyum Eppodhum (2011), the 1st of the 3 films which Murugadoss went on to produce along with Fox Star Studios. Refreshingly different in terms of plot and narrative, the film also had good music and a relatively fresh star cast, all of which appealed to both the audience and critics. Vikram Prabhu who was earlier more popular as actor Prabhu’s son or veteran Sivaji Ganesan’s grandson made people notice him with his very first film Kumki (2012). A slightly unconventional film for a star son’s debut, the film worked commercially and Vikram Prabhu seemed to have good screen presence as well. Hence with M.Saravanan and Vikram Prabhu coming together for their respective second film Ivan Vera Mathiri (He is different), naturally expectations were bound to be positive.
While Kumki was produced by Thirrupathi Brothers (N.Lingusamy and his brother N.Subash Chandra Bose), Ivan Vera Mathiri (IVM from hereon) is jointly produced by Thirrupathi Brothers and UTV Motion Pictures (similar to films like Vettai and Vazhakku Enn 18/9). With the previous two films jointly produced by them having turned out successful, people were also eager to know if they will register a hat-trick with IVM. The promos of the film were well received and some of the songs too have become popular well before the release of the same. Thus it was but expected that come 13th December this would be a film to look forward to. Considering UTV’s involvement in the film it was a surprise to see that the film has just had a token release outside South India. Thankfully the film has managed to release in the hub for South Indian films in Mumbai, Aurora Cinema and that too 3 shows a day, pretty remarkable I must say. And hence I set off to watch IVM this Sunday by when the reports coming in were encouraging.
Gunasekharan (Vikram Prabhu) is a youngster from a middle class background who seems to be leading a regular life. A visual communications graduate, he is on the lookout for a good job and spends time with his friends freelancing for a creative agency. When the law minister instigates mass violence inside a Law College in Chennai leading to the death of three students, there is a big uproar in the state. But as usual nothing happens, neither do policemen at the scene of the incident try to stop the act nor is anyone interested in getting to the root of the problem. But Gunasekharan decides to bring about a difference and ends up kidnapping the law minister’s brother, Easwaran (Vamsi Krishna) a wanted criminal who is out on parole for 15 days.
Gunasekharan holds Easwaran captive in a secluded toilet which is part of a high rise building under construction. By ensuring that Easwaran remains captive till the parole period is over and by informing the opposition party that the law minister’s brother is missing and that the minister has misused his powers, many things get triggered around the same time. While the minister resigns and the police led by Aravindan (Ganesh Venkatraman) undertake the investigation, Easwaran who has been left free by Gunasekharan is now baying for the blood of his mysterious captor. Amidst all this Guna ends up meeting Malini (Surabhi) an engineering student, who is bowled over by him almost instantly. What happens from thereon is what the rest of the tale is all about.
The film certainly tries to come out as a completely different action film and stand apart from the usual vigilante stuff seen in Tamil Cinema often. But while the attempt is genuine, the results are only half as satisfactory. For one it is nice to see an engaging cat and mouse game between Guna and Easwaran. Unlike in most cases where the hero tries to go after the antagonist, there is a nice reversal of sorts for most part of the film. The locations chosen are also interesting and not the oft repeated locales of Chennai. The action scenes are the highlight of the film and the action director Rajasekar definitely needs to be praised. The rooftop fight in the first half and the climax fight in particular stand apart. Shakthi’s cinematography is also top notch especially the shots across the high rise buildings. Sreekar Prasad’s editing is again commendable and the film is certainly engaging for most part of it.
But there’s a flip side to the whole thing as well. It’s good to see a common man like Gunasekhar trying to make a difference to the society we live in by refusing to remain a mute spectator to the atrocities happening around us. But the core incident which triggers off the whole story in the beginning (supposedly inspired by a real life incident in a Chennai Law College a few years ago) isn’t directly related to the protagonist Guna in any way. His explanation for getting provoked to do the act sounds a little too hard to believe. And while Vikram Prabhu looks perfectly comfortable doing all the action scenes it is a little difficult to accept a regular youngster looking so near perfect with all the stunts. And it isn’t even like he took time to prepare himself etc, some sort of a backstory for making his whole vigilante act emerge would have made it look a lot more credible.
Yes I know that when you are suddenly facing a certain situation your mind may not automatically alert you the way it would normally but still there is a lot of carelessness with which Guna operates, making it easier for the villains to track his whereabouts. (I will refrain from elaborating on the same as it will be a spoiler for those who are yet to watch the movie). Also I fail to understand why the cops are relegated to the background, giving us the impression that they really are no match for Guna and Easwaran. Ganesh Venkatraman may roar with fury in a couple of scenes, but that’s about it as he has nothing else to do in the film. The music by C.Sathya is strictly average with the already popular ‘Loveulla’ (sung by C.Sathya himself and lyrics by Viveka) being the pick of the lot followed by the soulful ‘Ennai Maranthaen’ (sung by Madhusree and lyrics by Na.Muthukumar).
In terms of performances Vamsi Krishna is pretty impressive and is a great choice as Easwaran. From being one of the numerous baddies in Telugu films initially he is now graduating to some really good roles both in Telugu and Tamil films of late. Charmila who was quite popular in the 90’s in Tamil and especially Malayalam films is seen once again here as Malini’s mother (she was last seen in last year’s hit Naan). Surabhi doesn’t really have much to ‘perform’ per se as she just has to look cute & silly for most part of the 1st half. It is only towards the last half an hour or so does she get to move out of this zone. The romantic portions between Malini and Guna look silly but still likeable. Vikram Prabhu has made a good transition from Kumki to IVM, as both the films and the characters played by him in them are totally in contrast. But while he is very good with action and carries off aggression pretty well, he does need to focus on being a little more emotive. Plus he does look a little stiff when it comes to dancing.
So while Engaeyum Eppodhum definitely brought M.Saravanan in the limelight and earned plaudits for its writing as well, when it comes to IVM the writing has been a bit of a let-down. But despite its obvious flaws IVM still works to a reasonable extent thanks to the action, and the main actors who look convincing in their characters. Both Vikram Prabhu and M.Saravanan have a lot of potential; let’s see what they go on to do from hereon.