After being in the crosshairs in the International circuit for its awards and in the National sector for the struggle with the censor board, Aaranya Kandam produced by SPB Charan and directed by newcomer Thyagarajan Kumararaja has finally hit the screens today.
Aaranya Kandam is a gangster flick that records the events that happen in the life of a few of them on a particular day. It is about normal people caught in unexpected situations and their transformations.
The expectations about the film have been on the high and the team has not disappointed their fans. It is hard to believe that AK is the maiden directorial venture of Kumararaja because the director has structured every frame and character in his film with brilliant dexterity. The manner of narration and screen play is commendable. The major players who help him deliver his aces are his pivot leads, music director, editor and cinematographer which goes on to reiterate the fact that cinema is only a team game.
AK does not follow the usual structure of First Half-Second Half, but sticks to the formula of Act 1, 2 and 3. This may look quite odd for our audiences for it takes more time for the conflict to pop up. And Kumararaja has not resorted to any unnecessary frills anywhere.
Well etched out characters mark AK. Jackie Shroff, the yesteryear dream hero from Bollywood makes his Tamil appearance with authoritative aplomb. His portrayal as the ageing gangster Annachi is commendable and his body language when he attempts to jive and remove his cloths with arrogance in his eyes but weakness in his body is just a sample. The opening scene where his anguish at not able to perform with Yasmin Ponnappa is a treat to watch. Wonder if such masculinity deficient protagonists were shown earlier in our films.
Sampath as the thinking Pasupathy sashays through his role effortlessly and his eyes speak for most parts. Somasundaram as the disgraced Zamindar in debt delivers a superior performance and so does Master Vasanth as his son. Though at times, we may feel that young boy is over-reacting it’s justified through the situations. We see him dominating his father, but at the same time, his childishness is also exhibited suggesting the paradox in such a character.
Wow, is it Ravi Krishna? The lad has lost oodles of weight and looks much younger and his essaying of the naïve Sappai is effective. Although Yasmin Ponnappa’s dialogue delivery creates an impression of a lower IQ girl, the debutant delivers what is needed for the role with ease.
Realistic and natural dialogues spice up the proceedings of AK. Sample this during the final touch-up between Sampath and the young boy when the former asks the latter ‘Unakku appava rumba pidikkuma?’ and the boy replies ‘Appadi yellam illa, aana Appa’. The profundity of this simple phrase is striking. And also Yasmin’s final statement “The best thing about being a woman is in man’s world’ is bound to be a hit with all women. Kumararaja makes amends with his women audience in this pithy expression for his statements of women in the earlier part of the film. The analogy of dhoti with rich and poor is noteworthy and so is the defining of a character by their preference for Rajni or a Kamal film.
The justification that comes through the example of ‘ecological web chain –worms, fish, man’ is appreciable. The flawed human nature is brought out when Somasundaram lamenting about his luck on losing the telephone number doing a complete volte face on receipt of the same.
Intelligent humor is sprinkled all over and is enjoyable. While the major story proceeds as a conflict between Jackie Shroff and Sampath, the ultimate twist during climax is something unpredicted and makes the proceeding all the more worthwhile.
Yuvan Shankar Raja is one of the major plusses for AK. His experiments with different pattern of BGM are brilliant. The solo violins, guitars and mild fill-ins (credits to sound engineer) enhances the visual feel. It is heartening to hear such pleasant sounds in place of the deafening notes that are generally found in such a premise.
Cinematography by Vinod is a treasure for the film. He has avoided using unwanted tones and his placement of angles is appreciable. Transition through editing is simple and neat. The picturization of the climax action sequence between Sampath and Gajendran is done in an interesting manner and deserves loud plaudits.
The only minus point if any, or in fact the movie's biggest plus point is that it is made keeping in mind experimental and true cinema lovers. Entertainment cinema lovers might find the proceeding a little slow at few instances. But at the end of the day, hope every cinema lover embrace such movies so that more filmmakers come forward to experiment with such products.
Verdict: Intelligently made gangster flick