By Meera
The Chennai City Gangster trend, Vanakkam Chennai, Idharkkudhane Asaipattai Balakumara


The movie Vanakkam Chennai ends with a Chennai city gangster song which sings the laurels of Chennai. Although am very suspicious of these Tamil, Chennai professing anthems that make us fanatic, this one has caricatures of Superstar and King Khan locked in an arm wrestle. Nobody can take that seriously and that is how the entire movie plays out. In this romantic comedy that Kiruthiga Udayanidhi has spear headed there are factors littered throughout the movie that sparks a new trend in Kollywood.

To begin with, the hero does not sport a six pack. He doesn’t engage in any muscle power showcasing stunts. And as Baradwaj Rangan aptly writes there is no feet-hands-face slow motion introduction number for the hero. He merely arrives as the story unfolds. I had almost forgotten that this kind of casting was possible. The female lead is also not merely an arm candy. She is a smart, suave and a stylish London girl who can take care of herself, thank you very much. She is not portrayed as an odd ball who frantically expects the hero to rescue her from every scene. In addition, she can also kick some ass. To top it off she is a photographer. I mean, when was the last time we saw a heroine in Tamil cinema with any aspirations other than a single minded devotion to woo the hero. The songs are organically woven into the plot. Some of them are mere montages while some are used to convey the mood effectively. No jarring melodies in the Alps in the middle of a suspense filled screenplay. In spite of Santhanam providing comic relief, the movie is largely free of double entendres.

Even though Kiruthiga resorts to several clichéd items like Rosy Aunty and that fiancée from London she gets most of the movie right. In today’s mass hero, stunt and five songs cacophony her locally flavored rom com is a breath of fresh air. It also works to her advantage that her husband provides the cash cushion but Kiruthiga has enough merit to stand on her own. In the measly nitpicking of female directors her vision and taut screenplay is a sure winner.

Idarkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara which swiftly follows Vanakkam Chennai carries a message “Say No to Drinks”. Not Say no to alcohol but to drinks. That defines the entire movie for us. It is trying to break free from the traditional commercial cinema by monikering the hero as summar moonji kumar. But the breaking stops there. Vijay Sethupathi’s lust for different cinema has landed him in a precarious position. In this movie with his drooping locks and well bearded chin it is quite cumbersome to spot the star himself. Yet he is the one that provides several high moments with Annachi, Sound Shankar and Kumudha Happy.

The other hero Bala tries to solidify his position but even his genuine comic lingos falls flat. His romance with Renu is an afterthought and his gimmicks with his Malayali boss reeks of stale bread. Yet Gokul has tried to package an old wine in a new bottle. His greatest visage is that of a character called Baby who has a flower fetish. Between her and Summar Moonji Kumar, the movie has some promise that is only half fulfilled. Like Vanakkam Chennai, this movie also attempts a new trend but doesn’t refresh us as much as the former.

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