Vedalam Movie Review: Tried and Tested Formula, Works Here in Parts

Playing a larger than life character is something that all Tamil heroes have always been fond of, nowadays even actors who are just a few films old feel the need to play such roles, perhaps with a view of fancying a shot at the superstar’s throne. And if it happens to be a mass entertainer featuring a popular actor then it’s almost a given that the main lead would perhaps portray a larger than life character, often with a righteous instinct as well. When Siruthai Siva decided to work again with Ajith after the reasonably successful Veeram, it kind of looked like a win-win prospect for both of them. After all Ajith had done a slightly classier film after Veeram in the form of Yennai Arindhaal and so a mass film would have been good to balance the act. Also for Siva it would have meant that that he could prove his consistency by turning out another success after Siruthai and Veeram.

Initially “code named” as Thala 56 and later on titled as Vedalam, the film has been in the news ever since it went on floors. Like with any film of Ajith there was quite bit of discussion on social media channels on how good/bad the title was which later extended to discussion/debates on the music and the teaser. For some strange reason the makers even dropped the plans of releasing the trailer and directly released the film for Diwali, today. To be honest I wasn’t quite kicked about the music of the film, though I didn’t really have any complaints about the teaser considering that it didn’t reveal much about the film. Considering that it’s a big Diwali release and managed to get distributed well despite clashing with Kamal Haasan’s Thoongaa Vanam, I was quite keen to watch it on the first day of release. After all I was indeed curious to know if the Siva-Ajith combination could deliver a success, yet again. So does Vedalam quite turn out to be the festival winner? Well that’s what the rest of the post is going to be all about.

Here’s a fictional account of how Vedalam got conceived and how it has finally shaped up. The idea clearly is not to make fun of anyone involved with the film, but just an attempt to make you smile or laugh in the process of reading my take on the film.

1.Siruthai Siva is sitting huddled in a discussion with Ajith one fine evening on their forthcoming project, their second film together after Veeram. Listening intently are also a couple of AD’s to take down notes and offer suggestions if asked for the same.

2. Siva suggests that they come up with a film which has Ajith playing a man with dual shades to his character, perhaps one for each half of the film. The AD’s gleefully nod their heads, saying “super thala, what a start”. Ajith remains unperturbed and asks Siva to elaborate, and Siva explains that the hero in the film is someone with a powerful past, while in the present he plays a simple, affable guy and a total departure from the past.

Vedalam Still 33. The AD’s start clapping cheerfully but Ajith interrupts and asks Siva “hey! Isn’t this the ‘Baasha’ model dude? Come on, haven’t I done this myself in the past, even in a dud like Jana?” Siva assures Ajith that the Baasha model is evergreen and a spin-off would work even today, provided it looks totally fresh.

4. What about the title? Oh! Let’s not worry about that right now, this being Ajith’s 56th film, let’s just refer to it as Thala 56 for now suggests Siva, adding that the title could be announced later. This in turn could be a good promotional strategy as well, with fans speculating over the title. Ajith doesn’t have issues over this.

5. So would I have 2 different getups in the film as well to bring out a distinct change in the character asks Ajith and Siva assures him that he would indeed have 2 different getups, one of them being the regular salt and pepper look that he is portraying of late, and the other similar to say the ruffian avatar from “Red”.

6. So how do we differentiate this film from Baasha itself asks Ajith and Siva says that’s quite simple. Ajith here has no family of his own, yet there would be a family angle coming into the picture, which is part of the transformation process that the hero undergoes. Also way too many Tamil films are being shot and based in Mumbai these days, so let’s shoot in Kolkata instead says Siva.

Vedalam Still 27. So if you still haven’t got the basic plot by now, then here it is. Ganesh (Ajith) moves to Kolkata along with his sister Tamizh (Lakshmi Menon), where she goes on to join a college for design and arts. Ganesh takes up a job as a call taxi driver and his life seems to revolve around his sister. But there’s another side to Ganesh as well, where he was Vedalam, a feared gangster in Chennai. Circumstances pitch him against three brothers, running an international crime syndicate. Soon the past catches up with Ganesh’s present, as he sets out to hunt the baddies. What’s the connection between Ganesh/Vedalam and the bad guys, how does Tamizh figure among all this, what makes Vedalam turn Ganesh etc are what the rest of the film is all about.

8. Siva also assures Ajith that he would ensure that there is something in the film to keep everyone happy as far as possible, be it the fans of Ajith, the family audience and the rest of the audience. Also despite being an action entertainer the film would have more than its share of comedians, what with Soori, Kovai Sarala, Thambi Ramaiah, Bala Saravanan, Lollu Sabha Swaminathan and even Shruti Haasan too handling the comedy aspect in the film.

9. And of course the film would have some interesting stunts; the film would also have portions shot abroad in places like Italy to give it a big scale. Most importantly the film would certainly have a good interval block, making the audience look forward to the 2nd half, assures Siva and Ajith starts to smile finally 🙂 .

10. What about the music did you ask? Well let’s have Anirudh on board, it would be nice to have him compose music for an Ajith film and we are sure that he would come up with at least a couple of chartbusters to keep the fans happy, suggests one of the AD’s. This time both Siva and Ajith smile and nod their heads, and thus Thala 56 aka Vedalam gets made and released as well, what with A.M.Rathnam’s Shri Sai Raam Creations producing the film (after Ajith’s recent films like Arrambam and Yennai Arindhaal).

Vedalam Still 1There are some things that make Vedalam watchable, first of all a decent first half with a few fun moments, here and there. The interval segment is quite well done, setting up the expectations quite nicely for an explosive second half, which sadly doesn’t really match expectations. While Anirudh’s music is quite disappointing overall, “Aaluma Doluma” (lyrics by Rokesh, sung by Anirudh and Badshah) is a rocking number and comes in at the right time as well. Ajith has great screen presence and does super justice to both shades in the character he portrays. He has clearly had a blast playing Ganesh/Vedalam and plays a strong character with a good shade of humour as well. The transformation that his character undergoes is shown well by Siva and Ajith pulls that off quite easily in style. But for all this there are quite a few things which make you wonder why Siva did not focus upon some of the other aspects as well. The star cast features an impressive line-up of actors; most of them either underutilised or perform poorly. All 3 villains, Rahul Dev, Aniket Chauhan and Kabir Duhan Singh are listless; merely looking menacing doesn’t quite help.

None of the comedians actually create any impact as such, surprising considering both Siruthai and Veeram scored well in terms of comedy. Shruti Haasan is totally wasted in the film, neither does her comedy act work, nor does she have any great romantic chemistry with Ajith in the film as such. Thankfully Lakshmi Menon gets good screen time and is also quite effective, in fact her character drives the film to a large extent and her combination with Ajith comes out quite well. So while it was quite nice watching fans this morning perform “paal abhishekam”, dancing to the beats of “tharai thapattai” and generally having a blast at PVR Sion, reminding me of festival releases back in Tamil Nadu, but once you watch the film the same sense of euphoria probably doesn’t really remain. Ajith does look convincing in the larger than life role, but it is a premise which by now has been beaten to death and should be clearly avoided by filmmakers for some time.

Vedalam isn’t as entertaining as Veeram, nor does it break any new ground in any aspect. What it does have is a charming main lead who pulls off a routine role too with conviction and style. Ultimately Vedalam isn’t quite the impressive firecracker it promised to be this Diwali, it instead turns out to be an explosive which loses its impact a tad sooner than expected.

Note-While it is heartening to see Vedalam being played with English subtitles in places like Mumbai,the quality of the subtitling is certainly a concern. Quite a few words have been poorly/wrongly translated and during songs sometimes the subtitles suddenly disappear.

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