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Review by : Behindwoods review board
Starring: Arjun, Haripriya, Vincent Asokan.
Direction: A. Venkatesh
Music: Dhina
Production: T.D.Raja

Watching an Arjun starrer is like walking into a restaurant and ordering a ‘limited meals’; you know what is coming your way, the only question being whether, on the day, it has been well made. It is with similar questions that one enters theaters to watch Vallakottai. The director and the lead actor have declared quite openly that their intention has been to make a regular entertainer that will satisfy all Arjun fans.

Vallakottai – a remake of the 2007 Malayalam superhit Mayavi starring Mammootty – tells the story of a small time criminal with a heart of gold. Starting off inside a prison, the movie shows Arjun being chosen as the lucky prisoner to be released on a special occasion. But, he takes a responsibility upon himself; that of treating one the inmate’s (Prem) younger brother who is currently hospitalized. For that, he needs to make a large sum of money. Knowing nothing else but petty con acts he gets ready to own up responsibility for a serious offence in exchange for a big amount of money. This takes him to a seaside village where he is supposed to camp until the crime is executed. But, the longer he stays in the village, the more he comes to know about the people who have hired him and the people on the other end of the offence. Does he change his mind and the sides that he takes? Where does the mission end and does he finally make the money needed to treat the boy?

The basic premise of Vallakottai is something that has been often seen in Tamil cinema and also in all other south Indian languages. Two warring families; one full of good guys, the other are a band of baddies with the latter baying for the blood of the former. It is into their midst that Arjun lands. Though hired as just a ‘dummy’ to surrender to the police at the right time; he is astute enough to see right from wrong. This is the portion where Vallakottai has a chance to make itself different. Roughing up the local thug who has long lost all the awe that he commanded helps matters; so does the portion where Arjun decides to go ‘under cover’ and protect a couple of ladies from the constant troubles being given by the bad guys. But, overall the proceedings fail to hold the interest of the viewers consistently. The reason for this is hard to point out. It is almost an identical script that had worked wonders three years back in Kerala; but here the zing seems to have gone amiss. The only difference one can find is the overall mood of the flick. While the original had been a very much light hearted fair with comedy forming the backbone of the success; Vallakottai is a bit more heavy (only relatively though) which seems to have misfired. Comedy, taken care of mostly by Ganja Karuppu and Sathyan, which has been give a place of prime importance in the script, fails to create any significant laughs which is a major pitfall. Ganja Karuppu’s character; that of a local rowdy in naught but lame, has immense comic possibilities that have not been translated effectively onto screen. The romantic track of the film that develops slowly and surely; not the bolt out of the blue kind of thing; looks okay but does not do any major service to the overall picture. The reentry and turnaround of Prem’s character towards the end and the mistaken identities game which culminates in the climax do hold the viewer’s interest.

Arjun is his usual taut and tight self in Vallakottai. He is convincing as the small time criminal who is ready to take great risks for his friends. But, one only wishes that he had put in a lot more participation in the comic sequences which would have livened up the movie. As we have seen earlier in films like Giri and Thirumalai, he does have the ability to complement lead comedians. But, his chemistry with Ganja Karuppu and Sathyan is not nearly as effective as the one he has shared with Vadivelu. The action sequences, a highlight in any Arjun film, don’t seem to have reached the standards that are generally associated with Action King standards. Haripriya, the heroine looks fine on screen, getting a role that is a bit more than just song and dance. The bad men group led by Ashish Vidhyarthi do the usual stuff while Ilavarasu chips in as the ‘devil’s advocate’.

Technically, Vallakkottai holds its ground. There is not much to rave about and nothing to complain about either; all departments have functioned efficiently. The ‘Magadheera Magadheera’ song has got an engaging rhythm to it.

Vallakottai takes a plot that has already seen huge success and tries to recreate the same magic. But perhaps director A Venkathesh (Annachi from Angadi Theru) should have taken into account varied regional tastes and the vast difference in styles between the lead performers (Mammootty and Arjun) and appropriately tweaked the script. Nevertheless, Vallakottai is not a total let down; it does have its moments, the portions of action, the instances of laughter and a central plot that is not altogether predictable. But, more care in adaptation to the regional milieu could have made it much more entertaining.

Verdict: Mass masala – falls short by a fair bit!

Tags : Vallakottai, Arjun, A Venkatesh, Haripriya, Ganja Karuppu, Dhina
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