Utttama Villain- Dense Denser Densest

Utttama Villain- Dense Denser Densest

By Arvind S Chehtha isn't responsible for the views expressed by the visitor in this column. The visitor claims that this column is his/her own. If the column infringes any copyrights that you hold, please email us at

This post is a compendium of thoughts, analysis and insight on Uttama Villain gathered from not only my viewings of the movie but also through some of my various interactions with a host of people- friends, film enthusiasts and fans of actor-writer Kamal.  This film as a whole wasn't perfect, had flaws, had comedy that worked only in parts and could have used a better hand at directing all leading to a small loss in translation. Agreed. But this post is not about those glitches. Rather it's about how the genius of Kamal Haasan shines as brightly as ever in this three hour long movie. It's my ode to his everlasting stream of ideas and ingenuity. The last few years have been tough for fans of Kamal, the writer. Many of his scripts ranged from brilliant at times to middling; some being overtly self-indulgent; others being called out for the absolute lack of subtlety.  It's taken the man 10 long years  to  bring a script as dense and wonderful as Anbe Sivam. Uttama Villain reaches the bar set by Anbe Sivam et al. The writing is immaculate and is populated with a plethora ideas, theologies and perspectives. It doesn't require an intellectual to figure things out, but it does require patience and an eagerness to delve deeply into what's been offered and how the scenes in general have been conceived.




The general theme of the movie is immortality, the takeaway point in the end being  "Art-The bridge towards achieving immortality.  The movie goes one step further and talks about the buried unexpressed love a person has towards a close one. We, people never express love explicitely but it is all entombed underneath ready to be expunged at the moment of realization that time is catching up with us.


Manoranjan, the dying superstar doesn’t have time to make amends with his wife, to get closer to his disconnected son, to get to know a child born to him that he's never know of. It is a fact that we live a lie everyday by hardly thinking of the impending eventuality of us not existing at one point in time. This movie does a great job of impinging the effect of that moment of realisation.


The line may also refer to undying love of a fan for a star. The movie moreover juxtaposes the real life of the superstar, albeit a dying one with the reel side of his where he plays the infallible Uttaman- a man blessed with immortality. The premise with which this is set up is a parody by itself and at times acts a medium through which Kamal, the writer reaches out to the audience, just as how Uttaman, the reel Kamal reaches out to Manoranajan, the real Kamal.(The saagavaram song for example).


A few viewers didn't like the inclusion of Theyyam and pointed at how minimalistic its effect is in the overall scheme of things and how it's another  "I can do this as well" thing that Kamal struck off from his bucket list. Fact of the matter is, it's not. It pretty much goes hand in hand with the theme of the movie. All of you would have known by now that Theyyam is an ancient dance form still under practice in Malabar Kerala. An intriguing aspect of theyyam is "immortalization" of the mortal who's performing the art form. Out of the 500 odd variants of the art form it is the Vishnumoorthi theyyam that embraces this particular concept most effectively. Theyyam rituals usually have devotees worshiping the artist and seeking his blessing. So the story of Uttaman is not just about a guy who gets lucky by getting deemed an immortal, but is truly one both literally  (a theyyam artist is treated as one) and also figuratively ( an artist never dies).




The movie's all about the fathers, their decisions, the effect of those decisions and at last their redemption.  Manoranjan, Jacob Zachariah, Margadarsi, Poorna Chandra Rao (PC) are all at heart, fathers and it's their actions as the father that progress the story. It is PCs actions as a father to Varalakshmi that makes him scheme against Manoranjan and Yamini; it's Jacob Zachariah's action as a father that brings Manonmani to Manoranajan; It's Margadarsi's action as a foster father that helps create Manoranjan in the first place- Manoranjan is his brain-child and lastly it's Manoranjan inability as a father to both his children that drives him to achieve redemption. The last song- Iraniya Naadagam is also a standing example of this. It doesn't talk about Prahladan but about Hiranyakasipu. It ends unconventionally with Hiranyan alive with Prahladan by his side, much like Manohar and Manonmani being at the side  of Manoranjan. There is another tender moment close to the end, where Manoranjan looks at both Manonmani and Manohar from outside the changing room as the " En Udirathin Vidai En Uyir Udhirtha sadai" looms in the background. This is after Manoranjan redeems himself by connecting to his son at last and also gaining the approval and love of his daughter, a daughter he never knew existed. 




Manoranjan and Uttaman are polar opposites, not just with respect to the fact that one is to die soon and the other is immortal but also because of their choices in similar situations. Both are actors. But you see them take a different stance with respect to that. Manoranjan chose his acting career over thelove of his life (Yamini) while Uttaman considers himself a human being first and then an actor. Manoranjan is a victim of scheming from people he trusts while Uttaman is schemer himself not only to Mutharasan but to even Karpagavalli and Kaakapusundarar. The ultimate schemer. Another contrast is that of the lost messages. Uttaman aka Senguttavan came for Karpagavalli despite her letter for help being intercepted while Manoranjan kept silent when the exact same thing happened with Yamini.



Much like the levels of a dream that you see in Inception, we get the levels of disguises an actor puts. It's like a meta within a meta within a meta. Kamal Haasan acts the role Arumugam who dons the mask of Manoranjan once he hits stardom who plays Uttaman, the immortal in his last movie who in turn plays Hiranyakasipu at the movie's only to reveal in the end that that he was Senguttavan, the neighbouring kingdom's ruler all along.




In the end how meta is Uttama Villain? How close is it to Kamal's real life? Pretty close but not close enough. Some aren't explicit but some are. The ones that are hidden (supposedly) however are that really make things exciting. I have listed the ones that I noticed in the movie below


§  K. Balanchader playing Manoranjan's guru in the film. There are obvious references to server Sundaram "Long long ago so long ago nobody knows how long ago", his first script and Neer Kumili, his first film. 


§  The Kadavul Paathi Mirugam Paathi reference


§  The Singaravela reference in the Single Kisske Lovah song.


§  Chithra Lakshmanan,  a very famous PRO in the 80s playing a PRO here as well.




§  We have Kamal uttering a modern 8th century version of Bharathiyar's Achchmillai Achchamillai along with the starting line of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" in Tamizh


§  Kamal's love of mirrors and reflection is again heavily reflected in Uttama VIllain. The emotionally overwhelmed Manoranjan starting to look at Manonmani's as it seamlessly shifts into the photos of Manonmani with the a more sober looking Manoranjan looking at the photos, Manoranjan's first meeting with Manonmani, The end as we see multiple reflections of Manoranjan's dead body, his children's reaction and his lover's lament all shifting to the projector square showing the movie.


§  Manoranjan after filming the sequence where Uttaman gets saved from the water has a look at the dead fish as the film goes into an intermission break. There isn’t a lot to differentiate between him and the dying fish considering both were caught in the net from water. One is without air, the other is without time.


§  Manoranjan literally unmasks himself as Manonmani reads his undelivered letter to Yamini. He comes clean truly. His next get up change would be that of Hiranyaksipu, the father.


§  The tree of life reference going along with the Udirathin Vidhai line



I am pretty sure there are a lot more things that I must have overlooked. A film as layered and intricate as Uttama Villain probably requires more than a viewing to understand what it really tries to convey. I would like to thank Karthik (Anban), Dr. Chandra, Ashutosh, Venkiram, Ashwath Ram and Sivasudhan Balamanohar for their thoughts on the movie. This write up is as much theirs as it is mine.


Arvind S Chehtha

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